We all know them well; those (mainly) guys in the gym who mainly, or actually only train the muscle groups that can be seen in the mirror. The mirrors are probably always very high, because they don’t pay attention to legs. Legday is the most skipped training day worldwide, so much so that there is a slew of memes about it and some youtubers have become famous for ridiculing these dreaded days. In the winter with your long pants you sometimes get away with it, but in the summer it’s either always long pants on, or with your skewers on the beach. And of course we don’t do that gentlemen! The ladies generally train their legs seriously, so this is a nice article for you too, ladies! We will not only cover the quads, but also the hamstrings. Hamstrings give your legs a complete look, especially from the back. In addition, they are absolutely important to make you less prone to injuries. So take it seriously!
GENERAL TIPS BEFOREHAND
Before we go any further: Also keep in mind that blunt throwing isn’t optimal unless you’re training for injuries and a big ego. Especially because the legs contain very strong muscles, this is good to keep in mind. FOCUS on the movement you do and the muscles you train. No swinging with your entire upper body, no swinging up from your butt or lower back when you do a lying leg curl, etc.
In addition, don’t do any exercises that don’t feel right! I keep saying it, but no exercise is irreplaceable. If something really doesn’t work or hurts a joint, stop doing it and find something that does work, possibly with a good personal trainer / coach. I myself have been messing around with a knee injury for a long time; this was always the reason for legs lagging far behind. Thanks to more knowledge and better thinking, it is now possible to gain decent mass, despite the fact that the injury is still there!
The hamstrings can be divided into 4 different muscles with perhaps a lot less known names than those of the quadriceps. From the inside out (medially to lateral) they have the following names: Semimembranosus, Semitendinosis, and the Biceps Femoris (just like in the arm a long and short head).
The Semimembranosus and the Semitendinosis originate on the pelvis and have their insertion on the tibia. The long head of the Biceps Femoris originates on the pelvis, with the insertion on the fibula.
These 3 muscles are biarticular. This means that they span 2 joints (the hip and the knee). For this reason, they work in both hip extension and knee flexion. We have to take this into account when training, but I will come back to this later.
The short head of the Biceps Femoris spans only the knee joint. Therefore, it only works in knee flexion. The hamstrings therefore consist of 4 muscles that can provide knee flexion and 3 that can provide hip extension.
Finally, the layout of the muscle fibers; the hamstrings are about 50/50 fast twitch/slow twitch, barring personal variation.
The quadriceps can be divided into four different muscles (recently discovered that there is a 5 e and 6 e , but it is also very interesting for now).
Medially (on the inside, the ‘teardrop’) we have the Vastus Medialis. Laterally (on the outside) we have the Vastus Lateralis. In the middle is the Vastus Intermedius. These 3 muscles have their origin on the femur, the thigh bone, and attach to the tibia (the shin bone), over the kneecap. They provide knee extension. The kneecap itself provides a somewhat greater leverage that allows these muscles to deliver more force than they could without.
Finally, we have the Rectus Femoris, which runs across the top of your thigh. This muscle has its origin on the hip and also attaches to the shin. Like some other muscles in the body, the Rectus Femoris is biarticular. As a result, this muscle can also provide hip flexion in addition to knee extension.
The composition of the muscle fibers in the Vastus muscles is approximately evenly distributed over fast and slow twitch. The Rectus Femoris is a bit more fast twitch dominant, so it might respond a little better to heavier workouts.