The best two exercises for the back of your legs
If you want to develop your rear upper thigh muscles, the Romanian deadlift – shown on the right – and the glute ham raise are the best exercises. Researchers at the University of Memphis write about it in the June edition of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Lots of bodybuilders and other strength athletes still neglect their rear thigh muscles. The most important muscle groups in this part of the body are the biceps femoris, the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus. Most athletes and trainers refer to these three collectively as the hamstrings.
The researchers got 12 well-trained strength athletes to do four exercises for the hamstrings on different occasions: the Romanian deadlift – a version of the deadlift in which you keep your legs more or less stiff – the good old lying leg curl, the good morning and the glute ham raise.
The researchers used electrodes to measure the electrical activity in the muscle groups, an indicator of how hard the muscles had to work during the concentric and eccentric movements.
The figure below shows that the Romanian deadlift is the best exercise for the biceps femoris. The least effective exercise was the leg curl.
For the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus, the Romanian deadlift was the best exercise for the eccentric movement. For the concentric movement the glute ham raise was best.
The researchers conclude that athletes who want to strengthen the rear side of their thighs and develop those muscles are best off concentrating on the Romanian deadlift and glute ham raises.
J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Jun;28(6):1573-80.
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