A hamstring workout will strengthen legs and improve your rear view. This group of four muscles, located at the backside of your legs, flex your knees and extend your hips. Strong hamstrings mean you can pull off short-shorts at your next race while busting a move up the steepest hills. You have to work to build the shape and strength you desire. Incorporate workouts that include hill running as well as specific weight-based moves to add power to your backside.
Running and the Hamstrings
Running uphill strengthens most of the muscles of your lower body, including the hamstrings. Chris Phelan, USA Track & Field-certified running coach, told “Runner’s World” that hill running is resistance training for runners. Even if you aren’t a hardcore racer, you can intersperse short hill sprints in a treadmill session or circuit workout to tone the hamstrings.
Leg curls and hip hinges help isolate your hamstring muscles. Use a stability ball to do hamstring pushups. Prop the ball against a wall and lie down on the floor to put your feet on it. Lift up your tush and hold momentarily. Slowly lower back down to complete one repetition. You could use a chair if you don’t have a ball. For a harder exercise, try lifting one leg up while you leave the other on the ball. The good morning exercise will certainly wake up your hamstrings. To do the move, place a barbell across the back of your shoulders. Hinge forward slowly from the hips without curving the spine. When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, slowly return to the starting position. You can also do this exercise balancing one leg if you need more challenge. The leg curl machine, in which you lie on your belly and hook your feet under a pad to bend your knees and heave weight toward your behind, is another exercise to add to your repertoire. For all of these, work up to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
A hamstring running circuit alternates weight exercises with hill blasts to keep your heart pumping and burn maximum calories in minimal time. Fitness reports that a circuit workout can burn 30 percent more calories than a traditional routine. Perform sets of hamstring exercises such as the Romanian deadlift, in which you stand with a dumbbell in your right hand and hinge from the hips to lower the weight toward the left shin while lifting the right leg. Between sets, hop on the treadmill for one to three minutes and surge up an incline of 5 percent or more. A typical routine might include three to five hamstring-specific moves with hill surges interspersed between them. You can do between one and three sets of each exercise, depending on your fitness level and allotted workout time. If you prefer to keep track of time rather than the number of repetitions, perform each hamstring strength exercise for a minute and then run for a minute.
You could alternatively hit the treadmill after doing focused hamstring exercises to seal the effects. A sample hamstring workout on the treadmill could involve spending 20 to 30 minutes of gradually increasing the incline for a steady, strong hill. After a five-minute warmup, run for two minutes at an incline of 2 percent. Increase the incline by 1 percent every two to three minutes until you reach an 8- to 10-percent grade. If you want to go longer, you could decrease the treadmill incline in the same gradual manner. If one long hill is more than you can bear, try hill intervals in which you run on a flat at a comfortable pace for three to five minutes and then on a hill for an equal amount of time. Make the hill grades equal between 3 and 8 percent. Alternate the flats and hills to reach your desired cardio workout time.
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.