For as many times as we hear athletes say they want a tighter ass or toned core, never once have we heard the phrase, “Wow, I just really wish I could have stronger hamstrings.”
Like Back Day, we notice a few of you targeting Hammys as your scheduled rest day; and, like Back Day, we want to explain what you’re missing out on. Because as Katie continues to shove down our throats, the human body is a closed system, and every muscle group plays into another.
If you’re looking for that perky ass, those glutes aren’t going to raise unless you train the muscles directly below them. But aesthetics aren’t the only reason you should strengthen these muscles. Your hamstrings allow you to perform explosive moments, prevent knee pain, and help balance-out one of the most dominant muscle groups in the human body.
Why You Shouldn’t Skip Hammys: Balance, Function, and Aesthetics
Balance: Your Hammys Take Pressure off Your Knees and Low-Back
If you’ve learned anything from this blog series, hopefully it’s this: You can’t overtrain one muscle group while ignoring others and not risk injury. And two of the most commonly injured areas—your knees and your low-back—are linked to your hamstrings.
“The back of your body works together as a closed system—your ass, hamstrings, and low back,” explains Katie, “So developing the muscles in your hamstrings takes some of the force off your back.” Training your hamstrings takes pressure off your spine and redirects it to your legs, decreasing the likelihood of a low-back injury.
And for those of you who keep saying your knees hurt, it’s time to start pinpointing where that pain comes from. Most people are quad dominant, which can put pressure on the knees. If your knees bother you during class, it could be due to dominant quads without strong hamstrings to counter balance them.
Function: Some of the Most Common, Everyday Movements Start with Your Hamstrings
If you think hamstring exercises are limited to hammy curls and deadlifts, allow us to challenge that way of thinking.
Movements you perform in your regular, everyday life require your hamstrings. Take a second and think about doing a dumbbell deadlift—now picture picking up a laundry basket full of clothes. Now think about digging your heels into a scooter as you start a hamstring curl—now imagine your heel striking the payment as you walk down the street.
And if everyday movements aren’t big enough motivators to convince you masochists to stop skipping Hammy Day, allow us to form one more argument. If you want to get better at explosive movements—if you want to bound like Katie or box-jump like Chris—you have to strengthen your hamstrings. When your legs elongate in these explosive movements, your hamstrings are where that power comes from. And not only do they help you lift-off, but your hamstrings allow you to accept that force on the way down, landing softly and preventing injury.
Aesthetics: Whether Your Brain Tells You so or Not, You Want Toned Hamstrings
If your eyes gloss over at the thought of toned hamstrings and the only three words you associate with that muscle group is, “I don’t care,” we have one question:
You sure about that?
The back of the legs are sexy. At one point in history, someone capitalized off this idea and realized they could create an entire product line accentuating the back of your legs, and heels were born. When we walk on the balls of our feet—as when we wear high heels—our calves and hamstrings are flexed.
—And that’s when you get the physique we all claim to want: chiseled legs and a lifted ass.
You Cannot Ignore Your Hamstrings Without Ignoring Other Parts of Your Body
The most commonly overused muscle group (your quads) are balanced out by your hamstrings. Two of the most common injuries (your low-back and knees) can be prevented by strengthening your hamstrings. And one of the most aesthetically-coveted muscle groups (your ass) cannot be built without your hamstrings.
Your body works as one unit. We will repeat this until the end of the series and again until we’re red in the face. So if you came to class today for Ass Day, hopefully you were there yesterday for Hammys.