Gearing up for a heavy squat day? There’s no questioning the fact that heavy squatting takes a toll on your body. In addition to the high degree of muscle fatigue you’re without a doubt in for when you squat, you also may find yourself contending with hip pain, knee pain, and even lower back pain if your form is not in check.
Done poorly, squats pose a real threat of injuries. Done properly however, along with a good warm-up, and you shouldn’t have to worry. One ‘warm-up’ exercise that few people ever think of when it comes to leg day training however is hamstring curls.
Here’s what you need to know.
The Hamstring Curl Warm-Up
When you begin your workout with a few sets of hamstring curls, you’re going to activate the hamstring muscles, which then will give you a much sturdier feeling when you move down into your squat position.
This increased stabilization may not only help reduce your risk of knee pain, but could potentially help you lift more weight as well.
In addition to that, most users will find that if they begin their workout with hamstring curls first, they have to do less of a warm-up for their knee joints before moving into the squats.
So if time is a concern for you with your workout sessions and you want to get in and out of the gym quickly, simply switch the order of your hamstring curls and squats. Most people squat first and then later on do hamstring curls. This, however, will entail doing a longer warm-up.
Instead, consider doing your hamstring work followed by a brief knee warm-up and then move directly into squats. You should find this works much better.
A Note On Fatigue
One thing that you do want to keep in mind is that if you are low bar squatting, you are going to put more emphasis on your hamstrings than if you were high bar squatting.
As such, you may not want to do heavy hamstring work prior to this. Lighter, higher rep hamstring curls will be a better bet to get the knee joints warm, to get the blood flowing into the muscle tissues, and to avoid the build-up of fatigue.
Likewise, the same rules would apply if you are not squatting but instead, doing the leg press or any other big compound exercise. The more hamstring involvement in the exercises you plan to do, the lighter the weight load you are lifting should be. Adjust accordingly so that you can still hit your big lifts with the strength and power you desire.
While it’s an unconventional technique and not one that many people would ever think about, hitting your hamstrings first on leg day may provide you with a bit of extra protection for your knee and hip joints, while helping you see maximum results. Try this out at your next workout session.