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In the early Mr. Olympia competitions, the lower body didn’t have to be as properly developed as the top half of one’s physique. But as the years went by and the sport evolved, more attention was paid to the how the legs looked, so the athletes had to train them longer and harder. This wasn’t only about the quads and calves, either — the hamstrings had to be on point if you wanted to be in the final callout.

Training hamstrings isn’t fun or sexy, and to be honest, it can also be very difficult at times. The hamstring muscles — the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus — are used in just about everything from walking and running, deadlifting, and squatting. This creates a double-edged sword: on one hand, you’re already hitting your hamstrings with many of the compound movements that involve knee flexion or hip extension (which is a lot of them). On the other, it’s very hard to isolate this body part since it’s responsible for so much movement in our lower body.

Sure, you can hog the leg curl machine for the entirety of leg day, but the reality is that won’t take you very far at all. So once again, we decided to look to the best of the best for training advice.

These five Olympia champions planned and executed their hamstring training accordingly, and accumulated 33 Sandow trophies between them. So how did they make the hamstrings pop from the back and side? Their answers are below and you can put their words into actions for yourself thanks to the accompanying workout at the end.

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