Welcome to Hamstrings for Dummies!

I've seen many a dude in the various gyms I've been to putting in massive amounts of effort - towards the muscles they can see that is. A lot of neglect is evident in the rear delts, erector spinae and probably worst of all in the hamstrings. You can have big bad ass quads that rival Branch Warren's, but if you don't have the hamstring development to match them, you will quite frankly look like an idiot. I think in reality though, large and separated quad development is not very possible without at least some hamstring development. The purpose of my writing here, is to give a quick understanding of the anatomy of the hamstring and how best to train it for maximal hypertrophy and strength.

The Hamstring; or its true name - Biceps Femoris, is a large muscle mass lying on the posterior or rear part of the thigh. As its name "biceps" implies, it is made up of two "heads." The long head of the hamstring originates just near the pelvic outlet near the inner part of the rear of your thigh, just under your butt cheek (sorry for the clinical terminology ) and inserts just alongside the outside of the knee where it connects to the tibia and fibia. The shorter head of the hamstring originates from almost as high as the gluteus muscles do and just before insertion splits above the knee joint.

The function of the hamstring is flexion of the knee joint, extension of the hips and outward rotation of the hip when the knee is flexed. It serves as an antagonist muscle to the quadriceps. Which given thought - these two muscles must work against 4 muscles; to wit, it MUST be properly trained to prevent injury!

Now with a full understanding of the anatomy and function of this important muscle group we can plan a full out assault to make it grow! Try this routine for a few weeks and see the changes happening! I wouldn't recommend bringing this level of volume to your hamstrings unless you are advanced in bodybuilding. Additionally, do not continue this program for greater than 4 to 6 weeks without at least a 2 week de-load. This is also intended to fit into a 4 to 5 split routine and should not be performed more than once every 6 to 7 days.

Warm-Up - This muscle is prone to injury so a thorough warm up is a must!!!!
5 Minutes on Elliptical or Stationary Cycle
1 set - very light weight Single Leg Curls x 20 reps each leg

Good Morning w/ Band - Requires a 41inch band. If one is not available you can perform this the old fashioned way with a barbell; I simply prefer the varied resistance for this particular exercise that you get from a band.
Using the 41 inch band, stand with both feet on one end. Bend forward with the knees just slightly bent and feet spread no more than 12 inches. Wrap the other end of the band around the back of your neck. Keeping knees in position, stand straight up. Slowly lower back to the starting point being careful not to round the back.
Perform 3 working sets x 12-15 repetitions

Romanian Deadlift - Apparently Romanians are known for their killer hamstring development!!!
Put a barbell in front of you on the ground and grab it using a pronated (palms facing down) grip that a little wider than shoulder width.

Bend the knees slightly and keep the shins vertical, hips back and back straight. This is the starting position.

Keeping your back and arms completely straight at all times, use your hips to lift the bar as you exhale.

Once you are standing completely straight up, lower the bar by pushing the hips back, only slightly bending the knees. Take a deep breath at the start of the movement and keep your chest up. Lower the bar to the mid-shin level, then return to the starting position. Hold your breath as you lower and exhale as you complete the movement.

For variation try any of the following:
1. Perform stiff legged deadlifts using the hack squat machine. Basically you position yourself the reverse way in the Hack Squat machine and flex at the hips while keeping your legs straight. Your butt should be in the air at this point and you should feel the stretch at the top of your hamstrings. Return to the start position by extending at the hips and bring the hips forward back to the start position.
2. Perform the Romanian Deadlift on a platform and extend the range of motion as far as possible without injury.
3. Perform the Romanian Deadlift with dumbbells (this is a personal favorite of PoB and IronInsanity).

Perform 3 working sets for 6 to 10 repetitions.

Glute-Ham Raise - Requires equipment
Begin by adjusting the equipment to fit your body. Place your feet against the footplate in between the rollers as you lie facedown. Your knees should be just behind the pad.

Start from the bottom of the movement. Keep your back arched as you begin the movement by flexing the knees. Drive your toes into the foot plate as you do so. Keep your upper body straight, and continue until your body is upright.

Return to the starting position, keeping your descent under control.

Perform working 3 sets with body weight to failure If you are going above 15 to 20 reps on this (doubt you can!) start holding weights.

Leg Curl Machine w/ toe variations
Using the leg curl machine you will perform 6 reps with the calves in contraction (imagine standing on your toes) then 6 reps with the toes pointed outward. Repetitions must be performed slowly.

Perform 3 sets of 6 repetitions with toes pointed downward supersetted to 6 repetitions with toes pointed outward.

For a disgustingly painful variation on this exercise that will likely make you cry add resistance to the eccentric movement. The easiest way to do this is to get a training partner to try and push your legs down on the negative while you resist their efforts.

Ok, so you've made it through. Two post workout suggestions. Before you leave the gym, hit the floor and lightly stretch out the hamstrings and/or foam roll them. Once that is done, head to home depot and get one of those handicapped bars that you put in the bathroom by the toilet... Cause you're not gonna be able to get on and off the throne for the next couple of days