Hamstrings are the unsung hero muscles of your body. And no, they’re not made of ham and they’re not a string either. These oddly-named muscles in the back of your upper leg are actually some of the strongest in your body.
Though they may not be as noticeable or prominent as a strong chest, biceps, or glutes, the Hamstrings are pretty much the engine that powers the movement in your legs. They connect your hips and your knees to your leg and you depend on them to control the movement when you bend your knees. They’re what propels you forward when you sprint, upwards when you jump, and provides power when you lift a heavy object off of the floor.
Aesthetically, along with well-developed quads, it’s your Hamstrings that make your upper thighs look thick and strong. So if that's a look you’re after, you’ll have to include exercises that stress your Hamstrings every week.
In terms of overall health, these muscles also assist in stabilizing your hips and keeping your spine properly aligned. And since your Hamstrings also connect to the back of your knee, they help keep this critical joint functioning properly.
Much like the rest of your body, strong Hamstrings also prevent injury, especially in those playing sports. Deceleration, running, jumping, and landing- movements you would typically find in basketball or soccer will all reap benefits from well-conditioned Hamstrings.
Your Hamstrings also tend to stretch and contract, especially when we’re at rest. Sitting down for long periods (i.e. at work), actually cause the muscles to contract, leading to a feeling f tightness. Like large resistance bands, it's important to perform exercises that stretch the Hamstrings out so they remain flexible and performing at the maximum output.
Start working out this important muscle group by performing Straight Leg Deadlifts and Lunges during your workout. You should start to feel a healthy burn in the backs of your thighs as you do these movements.
Joel Runyon is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE® - performance lifestyle brand encompassing performance apparel & formulas, IMPOSSIBLE Fitness® programs, and a philanthropy arm. An endurance athlete and entrepreneur - he's also the creator of MoveWellApp and owns Ultimate Meal Plans. Find out what next challenge Joel is crossing off his impossible list here.