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06.03.2015


Hamstrings train better with leg curls that with deadlifts

Training with free weights is generally better than training on machines, but there are always exceptions. If you want to develop your hamstrings, for example, you'll make more progress by doing leg curls on a machine than doing stiff-legged deadlifts with a barbell. American sports scientist Brad Schoenfeld published an article about this in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning.

Study
Schoenfeld got 10 male students, all of whom had been doing weight training for a while, to perform stiff-legged deadlifts and leg curls while he measured the electrical activity in their hamstrings through electrodes hed attached to their legs. The higher the electrical activity is, the more a muscle is working and the more growth stimuli it gets.

The researcher made a distinction between the lower and the upper hamstrings, and the medial and the latter hamstrings.


Hamstrings train better with leg curls that with deadlifts


The lower hamstrings are above the knee joint and upper hamstrings are below the knee joint. The medial hamstrings are on the inside of your leg and later hamstrings are on the outer side of your leg.

Results
The leg curls [LLC] produced more electrical activity in the lower hamstrings than the stiff-legged deadlifts did [SLD]. The leg curls mobilised more muscle fibres in both the medial lower hamstrings and the lateral lower hamstrings than the stiff-legged deadlifts did.


Hamstrings train better with leg curls that with deadlifts


Hamstrings train better with leg curls that with deadlifts


For the upper hamstrings it made no difference whether the subjects trained them with the stiff-legged deadlift or with the leg curls.

The leg curls [LLC] produced more electrical activity in the lower hamstrings than the stiff-legged deadlifts did [SLD]. The leg curls mobilised more muscle fibres in both the medial lower hamstrings and the lateral lower hamstrings than the stiff-legged deadlifts did.

Conclusion
In 2014 we wrote about a similar study but which had reached the opposite conclusion. In that study the subjects did not perform sets to failure; in this study they did.

Source:
J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Jan;29(1):159-64.

More:
The best two exercises for the back of your legs 18.06.2014