T Nation

Building Hamstring Strength


I found this thread but its locked. So thought I'd start a new one -

Let's hear what you all do for hamstring strength but please say what kind of weight, rep and ramping scheme you've found works best.

I've really got nothing to contribute as my hamstrings are my weakest part I've done Romanian DLs and GHR but still not getting much improvement so I'm guessing its my scheme that needs work.

I also just switched and after my Deadlifts (Sumo) am going to start doing Safety Bar Box Squats. I did 5x5 this week but a guy tonight told me he would do 6 sets of doubles instead with as wide a stance as I can to hit the hamstrings.

I'm open to any and all ideas and have access to just about every PL device imaginable


Good mornings have helped me quite a bit as well as RDLs and SLDLs. I use them as assistance work on 5/3/1. Weight wise I always go light and really make sure I feel the hamstrings stretch, but a lot of people use them as max movements on a Westside split so I presume they work well in that usage as well.

Leg curls are a cool idea every once in awhile as well, definitely not as useful as GMs, RDLs, and SLDLs though.


box squats.......focusing on sitting BACK onto the box . in the past I wasnt doing them right ; my knees would be out over my feet when my ass was on the box . I was always too focused on adding weight , neglecting technique . now Im using a box plus 2.5 boards ( seems pretty high for 5'6") with 135 pounds wide-stance DE style . learning to sit BACK is hard as fuck at first......probably a sign of shit hammies . I'll drop the board height over a couple months time until I'm just using the box , which I think is a good height ( 14" I think )......then I'll start adding more weight .

been doing this 3 days after squatting heavy/ish ( working back to 5RM after hernia surgery) along with some pull-thrus and upper back work , and the difference in hamstring/glute recovery is outstanding .

never cared much for hamstring curls . dont have GHR bench....tried them ghetto style.....too much fuckin' around .


Hip-Driven movements are the most important.
I like SLDL off a box (the plates never touch) as an assistance movement. Never less than six, usually 8-12 reps. At least bodyweight if not more, performed without pausing between reps.
I like RDL much heavier. At least three reps, usually no more than six. In the area of 2x bodyweight. Light touch on the ground.
I also like GMornings, 'proper' Box Squats and think Pull-Throughs have thier place.
Unlike many....I always include some hamstring curls in my programs. Never as a ME movement...usually at least 8 reps, working to one set at failure.


My hamstrings are crap, so I won't really contribute yet, but looking to steal some ideas from here. I was told to work up to doing 100-rep leg curls with ankle weights 4x a week before replacing 2 of those days with machine leg curls, as well as work on a nice slow squat decent, sitting back and really attacking the hammies.


If it was me I don't think I'd be doing the ankle weights idea, but the machine curls and a box squat would definitely help if you used them properly.


Maybe it's not so much the exercises but the consistency that builds good hammies. Mine get at least two big movements per week and two small movements per week i.e. GM/SLDL and DL/RDL, leg curls and GHR's. So after squatting I'll hit up GMs or SLDLs and a few days later I'll deadlift/RDL. Follow each day with GHRs or leg curls.

KB/DB swings are a great great warm-up exercise for the hammies. Sometimes if they are really hurtin I'll do some light SLDLs in addition before squats/deads.


Nothing ever did it better for me than deadlifts (conventional, semi, sumo, snatch grip, deficit, whatever), box squats, and GMs. For learning how to activate them I found swiss ball leg curls, machine leg curls, and box squats to be the most useful.


I would recommend throwing a few sets of bw glute ham raises in before every workout. start off easy, 3 sets of 5 or so, going very slow on the negative. Add another set or more reps every week, till you are getting around 50 ghr's before every workout. Your hamstrings will come up fast.

Maybe its because I am short, but I never gained much from SLDL's. I have found high rep good mornings to be very good for hamstrings, as well as a ton of squatting. KB swings for conditioning post lifting are also a good way to get additional work in and coordinate your hips and hamstrings for deadlifts.






I've made some pretty substantial improvements in hamstring strength since starting at my new gym/ with my new training group. In terms of the main lifts: I've widened my squat stance, and started to train my sumo more.

Anyway, some other stuff ive done lately:
-Brought up my RDL. I think this movement is really underrated, about to start a three week block of RDLs in the 60-80% range, I'm expecting a lot of carryover.
- GHR (duh). I do these two ways: on monday I focus on lots and lots of bodyweight GHRs. Sometimes I'll do a few sets to failure, or I'll do several sets of 10. I want to work my total volume up to 100 reps. On thursdays, I do heavy weighted sets ( 3-5) of 5.
-Deficit sumo Deads. Just finished up a 3 week block of these, crazy difficult. We would do a few speed singles in the 40-50% range, and then work up in double between 70 and 80%.


RDLs are pretty awesome. I do extended-ROM RDLs standing on a box for general posterior chain work and they are pretty excellent.


Def add in some glute work in with all of this. Youll see a larger strength gain if you hit them hard on top of the hammies since they help with every hip movement.

With that said, the best for good exercises for strength in hammies are listed.
GHRs will be your friend. Try to keep at them, focus on trying to get a lot of sets in during the week. Banded, weighted, BW, explosive are all good options, so use them all.
GMs are also good, of course.
Wide box squats helped me quite a bit, so much that my quads are lacking now.
Curls and Dl+variations are good too, just make sure to work the glutes well. Glute bridge, hip trusts, anything by Bret C. should help in that dept.
Good luck.