Congratulations. You've chosen strength and health. You've won already. Our passion is to help you get there through knowledge and ideas accumulated on health, strength and fitness over a vast experience. Have fun!

The absolutely no equipment at all Hamstring Workout

 All of us want to be able to train our hamstrings anywhere, any time, till they start to resemble chords of titanium running along the back of our thigh.


Trouble, is, even the most low tech available options to train them aren't without their own set of limitations.

We have all seen the banded hamstring workout. But the question is, even bands need a sturdy anchor point, and most hotel rooms don't even have a sturdy bed. Moreover, after a point, we would really need several bands mated together to offer the kind of resistance that would give our strong hammies, the shockers.

Unless you have a strong anchor point that can handle the wrath of your angry Hamstrings, Banded Curls remain a luxury

We have even tried the swiss ball or trx leg curls. These are superior options, don't get me wrong, but on an international journey, carrying the deflated swiss ball along with an air pump to inflate it would only require you to carry more gear and spend time inflating and deflating it. While the TRX option, solves, this issue, it still requires you to have a very sturdy anchor point, a solid door which opens the right way and the TRX itself becomes an item on the travel list. A lesser used alternative, using furniture sliders can aid, provided you have a smooth enough floor available where you are (another luxury).

With no solid anchor point around, no question of doing the TRX curls

 Then comes the invincible king of bodyweight hamstring training: The Nordic Leg Curl or its not so distant cousin, the Glute Ham Raise. The Natural leg curl, as many call the Nordics, is said to be able to do the hamstring training wonders, with an anchor point as small as something to inert your toes along with half of your feet under it. This kind of set up requires you to train in a plantar flexed position. Now, I have personally tried this set up, and truth be told, I am yet to get around a piece of furniture, heavy-duty enough to counterbalance my bodyweight ( I weigh in the nineties mostly). 

Nordics require you to have a really trustworthy piece of furniture to secure yourself underneath

So, what gives? 

Enter the answer from the Health and Strength icon of the 1910s and 1920s, Earle Liederman.

The Exercise is a self resisted leg curl, where one leg opposes the knee flexion of another. All the resistance that is used is offered by the other leg. Both legs are worked alternatively. You cross your legs at the ankles. If you are working the right leg, the ankle of the left leg acts like a pedal block of the leg curl machine. The term 'non-working leg' would be a misnomer in the case of this hardcore exercise since both your legs are working every time. This also makes it a very efficient choice of leg strengtheners working your leg muscles in both extension as well as flexion.

The above photograph demonstrating the self resisted leg curl and the accompanying excerpt below is taken from the 1925 book Muscle Building by Earle Liederman. I'll let Liederman do the talking:

"Lie on your stomach, bending your knees until your heels almost touch your hips, and push one leg with the other until your legs are straight, forcing yourself to work against as much resistance as your legs will permit."

My personal experience with the exercise suggests it can cause severe cramping the first time you do it correctly, owing to the high degree of the contraction of the hamstring muscle group. Hence ease into it by going through it with lighter resistance till you get the hang of it.

The beauty of the exercise lies in its ability to modulate the resistance as you get stronger without the hassle of resorting to any modality such as a band, or holding weight plates on your top. While executing a set, strive to make the working leg almost immovable by pinning it down with the other leg. Grind through the resistance by a powerful contraction of the Hamstring group of the working leg.

Now, there is one key element to focus on while practicing these 'muscle control' themed exercise where your own body is providing manual resistance against a working muscle group. 

"In the exercise where you lie on your stomach and resist with your legs, you must concentrate strongly on this movement. Otherwise the amount of resistance you work against will become lighter and lighter, in which case you will not progress very rapidly."

What works for me is looking at the total number of reps I am doing that day. It its a ten rep set, the focus should be to resist with such a force that makes the tenth rep an all out effort. If it's a six rep set, prepare your manual resistance from the other leg to a degree high enough to make that sixth rep very difficult.

So, there you have it, a no excuses high intensity hamstring workout that can literally be done in the most impossible of the environments. Try it and let us know in the comments how hard your hammies cramped and how much DOMS you got the next day.