Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hamstrings On Monday

Hams…Bulging, full, round hamstrings. It’s one of my goals.

From Wikipedia:

The word ham originally referred to the fat and muscle behind the knee. String refers to tendons, and thus, the hamstrings are the string-like tendons felt on either side of the back of the knee. Another commonly accepted origin is that legs of ham used to be hung by a hook through the space between the thighbone and the tendons behind the knee.

The three muscles of the posterior thigh (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris long & short head) flex (bend) the knee, while all but the short head of biceps femoris extend (straighten) the hip. The three 'true' hamstrings cross both the hip and the knee joint and are therefore involved in knee flexion and hip extension. The short head of the biceps femoris crosses only one joint (knee) and is therefore not involved in hip extension. With its divergent origin and innervation it is sometimes excluded from the 'hamstring' characterization. 

Lots of people will concentrate on the quads and forget the hamstrings, but you really need to train them equally. This is important not only for aesthetics, but for function. If your quadriceps are stronger than the hamstrings, you may suffer an injury.

Working the hamstrings also ensures great glutes, you know they are very closely related!

Monday evenings I train hamstrings with Roy, and just as with the rest of my training it changes regularly. This is week two of this particular workout. I was a little tight from Saturday when I trained legs on my own, but I quickly forgot as I got into the evening.

I arrived at 5:30 and changed and stretched. We started with Glute Ham Raise, and the equipment is elevated in the back, Roy stands in back to ensure it remains stable. I have a 5 pound weight plate grasped to my chest and he said to aim for at least 8 reps. I do real GHR, my body is lowered to the point of being straight out, parallel to the ground,  not all the way down (where the top of my head is pointing to the ground).

I then pull up with my glutes and hamstrings, pulling as far back as possible, squeezing at the top, I am now upright on my knees. The effort should come from the tie-in, you gotta put your head in your hams! I do 10 reps, drop the weight and rest. We do 4 sets, maybe it was 5. We talk little in between, Issac is there training his wife.

Next we will superset hip thrusts and laying leg curl. We start with the leg curl, the weight is heavy enough to allow me complete 8 reps with proper form, but I still struggle, the left leg is weaker, it is catching up but this has always been difficult for me. I tend to stick my glutes up to allow the glutes to help more, and this is not what I should be doing, I tell Roy I need a seat belt….He tells me pull with the hamstring, concentrate on the tie in where it meets the glutes, bring the knees off the pad.

I do 10 reps then immediately over to the Olympic bar on the ground for the hip thrusts, it is at 95 pounds and on the floor in front of the end of a bench. I sit on the ground, upper back against the edge of the bench and bring my feet as close to my glutes as possible. I roll the bar up over my legs and into the fold of my legs/hips.

Push off from the heels, hips up in the air, try not to feel anything in my quads, it needs to be glutes and hamstrings, pushing from the heels, keeping my toes up in the air helps. I hold it for a second at the top squeezing, then back down. I do 12 reps.

A nice long rest and we continue supersetting for 5 sets. 

Just below is a long but extremely good video from Bret Contreras. He explains step by step and shows you had to perform this great exercise. If you are not familiar with Bret, he is one of the most well respected Strength and Conditioning Specialist in the nation. He also dubs himself "The Glute Guy". And good looking to boot!  I can watch him perform these all day long! (Email subscribers will need to navigate directly to my blog to view this).

It’s time; we have actually gone over an hour. I am sitting on the ground, oblivious to my surroundings. Roy said “Sorry we didn’t box Friday, we can do it tonight”. Hmm…can he read my mind? I didn’t tell him I missed it and he couldn’t have read it in my blog, it hadn’t posted yet. I was happy, I would get to box!

He dons the pads, I slip on the gloves and we go at it. 3 minutes on, 1 minute rest. I feel I am stronger but still not strong enough. At one point I punched myself…Roy started laughing and said that was the first time he had seen that, but I don’t mind, I can laugh at myself, it often provides the only comic relief of the day!

7:00, we have gone way over, and I feel like the time flew.

I mix up my drink and we look at some pictures of the most recent competition photos of some friends, we compare them to the previous photos. It’s so interesting how a body can change in only a few short months.

Dinner? Extra lean beef patty (4 ounces), 1 1/5 cups steamed green beans (frenched) and 1 cup of sautéed bell peppers.