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The BIGGEST Reason Your Legs Don't Grow

You're ignoring 33% of your legs. 

We've covered how to grow massive quads. But even the 5 best exercises for quad growth might not be enough to reach your full lower body potential. 

Chances are you might be crushing the squats, but what about the rest of your leg? If you don't work out the entire musculature of your lower body, you'll be sacrificing both performance and size. 

In fact - in well developed legs - the hamstrings will represent 33% of your total leg size.

Not only do well developed hamstrings look great, but they're also important for preventing injury, and helping your leg produce force in a well-balanced manner.

In this article, we will break down the anatomy of the hamstrings along with the best approach for hamstring hypertrophy.

The Anatomy Of The Hamstrings

Hand Chart

The hamstring muscle group is made up of the biceps femoris long head and short head, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus muscles.

The biceps femoris short head is really only used with walking so we won’t talk about it much.

The biceps femoris is located on the outside, while the semimembranosus and semitendinosus are located on the inside.

All of the muscles originate at your sit bone and insert on the tibia (shin bone). Since the hamstrings cross the hip and knee joints, they contribute to movement both at the hip and knee. 

These movements, hip extension and knee extension, are the two components we will exploit to make your hamstrings grow. 

Hip Extension, Knee Flexion, And Combination Exercises

What Is The Difference?

Hip extension focused exercises are more likely to evenly recruit the hamstrings compared to knee flexion exercises (1), but tend to more fully activate the semibranosus and bicep femoris muscles. 

In contrast, knee flexion focused exercises are more likely to activate semitendinosus muscle.

However there is some overlap, and a combination of exercises is required to get the most effective growth out of your hamstrings. 

The Best Way To Grow Your Hamstrings

As mentioned above, hamstrings aren't completely activated with all movements, especially exercises that tend to focus on only one part of motion, like hamstring curls (1).  

For the most effective hamstring hypertrophy, you will want to attack hip flexion and knee flexion simultaneously AND mix in a balanced amount of isolated hip and knee exercises.

Additionally, exercises that target the posterior chain (like a Romanian deadlift)
 will fully activate the hamstring.

Next week, we'll be covering some of the BEST exercises for hamstring performance and growth. So stay tuned! 


1. Bourne MN, Opar DA, Al Najjar A, et al. Impact of exercise selection on hamstring muscle activation. Br J Sports Med. 2017;51(13):1021-1028. 



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