The hamstrings get no love. Whenever I mention leg exercises, guys always want to talk about squats, lunges, and leg presses (and, yeah, the occasional deadlift.) Still, the hamstrings, along with the glutes, are the powerhouses of the lower body. They're crucial to sprinting speed, muscular balance, and lifting heavy weight.
But most guys are only training them one way, even though the hamstrings have two functions: knee flexion (like doing a leg curl) and hip extension (like locking out a deadlift). I'm guessing WBB readers know all about deadlifts but rarely do leg curls—which, by the way, is the opposite problem of most people.
But we all know the "non-functionality" of lying leg curls. So the question becomes, how can we train our hamstrings for both functions with one exercise? Enter the SHELC (Supine Hip Extension Leg Curl).
This is an incredibly difficult exercise that takes time to master, but once you get the basic movements down and build up through the progressions, your hamstrings will be bigger, stronger, and less prone to injury.
Here's how to do it:
Lie on the floor with your ankles and heels on a Swiss ball. Spread your arms with your palms down for a good base of support (once you get better at the SHELC, you'll do them palms-up with your hands closer to your body).
Now, lift your hips off the ground, making a straight line with your body. This is the starting and ending position.
Curl the ball underneath you while simultaneously squeezing your glutes and lifting your hips off the floor. In the final position, you should have your heels on the ball and have a straight line from your knees to your hips.
Reverse the motion till you're back in the straight line with your hips off the floor. That's one rep.
(For those of you who've mastered this already, try the single-leg SHELC. Follow the same cues, but do it with one leg.)
This exclusive article (and others) can be found in the latest Wannabebig Serious About Muscle Newsletter - September 2nd, 2010
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