Recently our local gym was refurbished. After nearly two decades of the same old kit, this came as a welcome change and much anticipation rippled through the members.
It is thanks to a new director who’s vision is to bring our Alpine resort up to par with others. He is well qualified for the position too, an ex judo Olympic medallist, speaks four languages fluently and earned a degree and masters in sports science and sports management. We cheered at his arrival.
We now have a nice range of high end Life Fitness equipment. There are fixed bars, plenty of chest apparatuses, even more back pulls and pulleys of differing ranges and angles, a shoulder press and fly… so far so good.
Then a leg press and leg extension and while looking for the hamstring and glute options, I stumbled into the infamous, overrated, nearly purposeless, mostly useless abductor and adductor machines, taking up three square metres of valuable gym space.
My heart sank at the sight of these inner and outer thigh machines. No hamstrings, no glutes but a few thousand spent on the girly, twin machines that no trainer worth their salt would waste time putting their client on.
The importance of hamstrings
Not wishing to sound like an ungrateful punter I asked the director his thinking behind this, he replied that hamstrings and glutes were for the more advanced exerciser…
Of course hamstrings get worked in most squats and lunges but so do the inner and outer thigh. Am I alone with my thinking here? Aren’t hamstrings important enough to have their own machine filling up gym space? For any knee rehab patient (and that’s 70 percent of our locals in a ski resort and something I have detailed personal experience of), hamstring curls are the light, the future, the way off crutches and back onto the pitch or ski slope…
So here’s a rant about how hamstrings make a difference…
- They balance posture
- They bring more power
- They tie in with the backside which affects the back dynamics
- They look good, they make the backside look better
- They count!
Which is why in my more minimalist studio (which has no hamstring machine) you’ll see low anchored bands and a cocktail of creations all based around amplifying the function of the back of the leg and optimising a backside. It is my favourite part of the body (not necessarily on my body which is always ‘work in progress’!), this is the part that sets an OK figure off from a fit and sexy one.
Which maybe our focused, judo Olympian understandably, didn’t rate as vital.
Hamstrings, inner and outer, upper and lower all feature big in my world
Standing kick backs, lying curls – precariously on a ball with a weight wobbling between the trainers, dead-lifts, single leg dead-lifts, lunges at open angles… all to create a functional, worthy, working, shapely hamstring that ties into the backside well. So yes, this is a great booty exercise!
That leads us to another fine mapping of muscle, that a glance at a muscular system chart, shows the complexity of the glutes, with fibres crossing up, down and around; it’s a piece of art and worth maximising and maintaining!
And to literally top it all off – the lower back; a well conditioned and strong erector spinae curving into the glutes, completes the finishing lines perfectly.
So there is always time to put some subtle shape into the side you never see of yourself. Turn a flat or low backside into a shapely high one and add some contours to the hamstrings (without a hamstring curl machine!) with the exercises below. And barely any kit is required!
In Part 2 Joey Bull provides exercises and instruction to help us lift, shape and tone our backsides!
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