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Do Heavy "Pulls" Tax the Hamstrings?

Do heavy “pulls” tax the hamstrings?

I’m talking about the Olympic lift variations, NOT deadlifts.

I do full squats. All the time. Heavy. Pause at the bottom. And since during my heaviest squat workouts, I also have clean pulls in the workout, I’m confused if my hamstrings got hit because of the depth of the squat or the fact that clean pulls are generally amazing for all of your posterior chain. In that day, I also had a sore lower back.

I mean, there’s the popular idea that full squats tax the posterior chain. Of course it does, but we can argue about how it only overloads the glutes and lower back and NOT the hamstrings. A long time ago, I had an old bodybuilder cringe when I told him I never do any direct hamstring work, and that the Olympic squat really, truly is only a quad-dominant movement.

So what’s the deal here? Did my hamstrings get worked because of the full squats that I did? Or because I went heavy on the clean pulls?

Thanks very much.

Think about the joint(s) the hamstrings manipulate. Did they flex and extend under a load? Then yes, they were worked. Did you fatigue them the way you would with a more direct work? No.

This only matters depending on what your goals are. If you’re bodybuilding, you could probably use a more direct approach for growth. Otherwise shouldn’t be an issue if you’re getting stronger.

Full range squats hit all of the posterior chain, so do pulls, how much depends on your individual form. For most guys, I would say additional hamstring work is a good plan no matter what your goals are. If you are Bodybuilding you should definitely be doing some separate isolation work. The “Old bodybuilder” is on the money.

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