Many bodybuilders frequently notice that their back workouts hamper their ability to perform as well as needed on leg day. It’s true that some back exercises do require the hamstrings remain fully flexed while supporting a great deal of weight. Deadlifts are an extremely heavy compound movement which forces the trainer to keep the hamstrings fully flexed throughout. Hyperextensions are another movement which results in the hamstrings briefly receiving the brunt of your body weight (along with any plate you are holding as well), which can leave the hamstrings very pumped at the end of back day. Your initial reaction might be one of optimistic surprise. After all, who wouldn’t want to add a quick pump to their hamstrings to see some new progress? Training them twice a week means they’ll grow twice as fast, right?
Not so fast, my hamstrung friend. This sort of interference can be very detrimental to your bodybuilding progress. If you complete your back training on Wednesday as many bodybuilders do, then it’s very likely that the full effects of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) will not be felt until 48 hours after your routine. Assuming you train legs on Friday (as many bodybuilders do), there’s a good chance your hamstrings will become pumped, and the movements will become very painful, once the hamstrings are called into play. Many bodybuilders notice it’s almost impossible to squat heavy with the hamstrings still hurting from the training several days before. Movements like leg press are a tad easier to complete with this soreness, but there still exists the possibility of muscle failure of the quadriceps before it would occur without this unwelcome DOMS.
Once hamstring training arrived on leg day, you’re likely in for a world of hurt. Having given them almost a full workout just 48 hours earlier, they will not be ready to be trained again. You will either suffer through a workout for a muscle group that is not yet recovered – resulting in zero growth – or you may sustain an injury. You would never train chest twice in the same 48-our period, so why would you consider doing it with hamstrings?
The solution will vary for every bodybuilder. Some trainers notice that simply moving hamstrings from leg to back day solves this problem. Others will move their back day to Monday, which would result in a full 4 days (or 96 hours) of recovery before hamstrings are trained again. Many bodybuilders agree that training legs first, then giving them 72 hours of rest before the hamstrings are affected on a secondary/support role basis on Monday is acceptable, and doesn’t put them at nearly the same level of risk. Your methods may vary, but it’s also important to remember that this or any sort of training should be goal-specific. If you discover that lifting for back and hamstrings on the same day is limiting your effectiveness or growth, change things up. If you are one of the lucky souls who isn’t bothered, then by all means keep your training constant!