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Biceps Femoris Exercises

Updated on May 25, 2014

Why Should I Train My Biceps Femoris?

The biceps femoris is a large muscle located on the back of the thigh. It is fast-twitch dominant, which means that it is an integral muscle in regard to force development in athletics. Its role in hip extension and knee flexion are essential in various athletic motions, including jumping and sprinting.

The muscle is composed of two heads, although the long head is the one more often associated with the term. The short head has no role in hip extension and instead only works to flex the knee. The long head, however, does both. Because of this, it is often hard to isolate the short head of the biceps femoris unless less conventional exercises are used. Athletically, the long head is the most important and should be the main focus.

Biceps Femoris Picture

The biceps femoris is a large muscle located in the back of the thigh.
The biceps femoris is a large muscle located in the back of the thigh. | Source

General Training Methods

The biceps femoris is a large muscle that is associated with many basic movements.  Because of this, it is best worked with heavy compound lifts.  The heavy weight helps account for the strength of the muscle and the compound motion assists in translating the strength to athletics.

Since the biceps femoris is primarily a fast-twitch muscle, explosive exercises and ones done over a short period of time, specifically in the 1-4 rep range are ideal.  While it's okay to go over this, your best strength gains will typically be acquired in this rep range.  With that in mind, everyone's body is different, so it's hard to determine your ratio of muscle fibers.  Use these recommendations as a general guideline, but experiment and use what works for you.

Low-Bar Back Squat

This is one of the most basic exercises for building up the biceps femoris.  It's important that you note that this is a low bar back squat, not a high bar.  Higher bar placement will place additional stress on the quadriceps in addition to decreasing the total load lifted.  The low bar position is good because it allows you to break with your hips better and improve hamstring activation while actually increasing the weight.  There is room for both style of squats in a workout routine, but the low-bar is better for hitting the biceps femoris.

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

The normal deadlift hits the biceps femoris very hard, but the stiff-legged hits it even harder.  The idea here is to assume a very slight bend in the knees when lifting the weight.  The amount that you bend your knees is typically a factor of flexibility.  The more flexible you are, the straighter your legs can become.  Note that the idea is to perform the deadlift without activating the knees.

If you'd like to perform straight-legged deadlifts instead, then go ahead.  Note that the amount of weight lifted will likely be less and flexibility will be an issue for most people.


Goodmornings are a good exercise for targeting the hamstrings. While they are generally classified as a lower back exercise, the hamstrings are hit exceptionally hard. This is an advanced exercise that really shouldn't be done without proper supervision or training. It's very easy to hurt your back doing them.  Make sure you start out with a very low weight.

Glute-Ham Raise

This is one of the most difficult exercise to perform, even without weight.  If you are able to do them, then continue adding resistance by using a medicine ball or a barbell.  This exercise is especially good because it hits both heads of the biceps femoris as opposed to only one.  You may need assistance from a partner when starting out.

Leg Curl

This is another exercise that targets both heads of the biceps femoris.  With that in mind, it doesn't come highly recommended for two reasons.  The first is that it typically has to be done on a machine, which deactivates the stabilizes, which can lead the injury or lack of translation to athletic movement.  The second is that many people have knee pain when performing leg curls.  I haven't been able to find any substantial evidence that they cause harm to the knees, but it's worth observing that machines are made for the general population.  The motions that the machine put your legs through might not be entirely natural for your body, which can place additional stress on ligaments or weaker muscles.


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    • ghomefitness profile image

      ghomefitness 7 years ago from Chicago,IL

      Good coverage of the muscle. I have people start with a sissy squat with a low pulley before they work up to a low bar squat. It helps them get their form because balance is an issue for some with the low bar squat. I love the monster girls in the video's :) Up and useful rating.