Origin and Insertions of the Hamstrings

In today’s video training, you’ll learn how to remember the origin and insertions of the hamstrings. This will prepare you ready for your Level 2 or Level 3 Anatomy and Physiology Exam

You’ll learn:

  • How to remember complex information about the Hamstring group.
  • The origin and insertion,
  • Location,
  • Muscle action,
  • and exercises that work the hamstrings.

You can then use this same method of learning for the other muscles you need to learn for your Level 2 and Level 3 anatomy and physiology exam.

First of all, watch the 9-minute video tutorial and then test your knowledge using the three mock questions at the bottom of this blog.

Watch: Origin and Insertions of the Hamstrings

Origin And Insertions Of The Hamstrings

Where are the Hamstrings?

The Hamstring is not one muscle, but instead a group of three muscles. They are positioned on the posterior thigh (back of the upper leg).

There are 3 muscles that make up the hamstring group:

  • Biceps Femoris: Closest to the outside of your body
  • Semimembranosus: Closest to the midline of your body
  • Semitendinosus: Between the semimembranous and the biceps femoris
Origin and insertions of the hamstrings

What is the Muscle Action of the Hamstrings?

The Hamstrings cross the hip and the knee, and therefore the joint actions of the Hamstring group are concerned with the movement of both the Knee and the Hip

The concentric contraction of the hamstrings create Hip Extension and Knee Flexion

What are the Origin and Insertions of the Hamstrings?

Origin = All three Hamstrings originate on the Ischial Tuberosity which is commonly known as the “sits bones” and is the ring-shaped bone on the base of the pelvis

Insertions = All of the hamstrings insert below the knee however they have slightlydiffering attachment points.

The Biceps Femoris have an F and inserts on the Fibula (which is the most lateral of the lower leg bones)

The Semitendinosus and Semimembranosus are TWINS and insert on the Tibia (this is the larger bone on the lower leg).

Exercises that target the hamstrings

There are two different types of exercises that will target the hamstrings, and that’s because there are two joint actions created from the concentric contraction of the hamstring group.

Exercises that feature Hip Extension in the concentric phase:

  • Squat
  • Leg press
  • Lunge
  • Kettlebell swing

All of these exercises require the hips to extend (straighten) in the concentric phase, which will be a result of the hamstring concentrically contracting. Other muscles also help this action including the Gluteus Maximus.

Exercises that feature Knee Flexion in the concentric phase:

  • Leg Curl Machine
  • Stability Ball leg curl
  • Nordic Curls
  • TRX/ suspension leg curl

All of these exercises require the knee to flex (bend the heel towards the bum) in the concentric phase, which will be a result of the hamstring concentrically contracting. Other muscles also help this action including some of the adductor muscles and the gastrocnemius.

5 simple steps to help you To Remember Muscle Origin and Insertions of the Hamstrings

This 5 step strategy will simplify and structure how you are learning the key muscle information. This is not only great for your exam but also when planning and working with clients.

Step 1: Take Time

Schedule 15-minute chunks spread throughout your week. Make space in your diary for one slot per muscle, rather than trying to learn everything in one revision setting.

Step 2: Image and Name

Use a clear image, like those in our L2/3 Flashcards, of the muscle you are learning. Ensure the name is clearly printed on the image to make it easy to commit to your visual memory.

Look at the image and close your eyes to see if you can remember the image and name together.

Here’s an example of the Hamstrings from our Muscle Memory Sprint Flashcards:

Yes – let me see the L2 Flashcards or L3 Flashcards

Step 3: Your Own Words

In your own words describe the location and the Origin and Insertions of the Hamstrings

So for Hamstring, I might say

“it’s the back of my thigh. It originates on my sits bones to below my knee”

Then double-check the “official” terminology of the origin and insertion so you know for sure.

Step 4: Fibre Direction

Look at the direction of the muscle fibre, as this will help you understand the joint action that occurs when the muscle concentrically contracts.

So as the muscle shortens you can imagine the insertion being drawn closer to the origin.

Step 5: Joint Actions

Visualize the muscle concentrically contracting (fibres getting shorter) and the name of the joint action.

In my example, this would be Knee Flexion and Hip Extension

Then pick an exercise that works this muscle. For example, To target, the Hamstring could choose the Leg Curl.

By repeatedly doing this exercise you can feel the muscle contracting and relaxing, which helps you to commit it to memory.

Test your knowledge with 3 Mock Questions

Look at the Muscle Anatomy and Physiology Mock questions below and jot down your answer on scrap paper or as a note on your phone.

Then scroll down to reveal the answers.

1) What action occurs when the muscle fibres of the Hamstrings concentrically contract?

A. Plantarflexion
B. Dorsiflexion
C. Knee Flexion
D. Knee Extension

2) What is the insertion of the Semitendinosus muscle?

A. Tibia
B. Fibula
C. Ischium
D. Condyles of the Femur

3) Which exercise does NOT work the Hamstring muscles?

A. Squat
B. Leg Extension Machine
C. Lunge
D. Leg Curl Machine


Q1: Answer = C
Q2: Answer = A
Q3: Answer = B

If you want more mock questions like this, then you can download more Free Mock Questions: DOWNLOAD NOW

How to learn origins and insertions?

Learn, Revise & Remember All 50 Muscles In The Level 3 Anatomy & Physiology Exam.

(and the BEST part…You can do all this in as little as 5-minutes a day)

Each flashcard gives you a clear image and six clear muscle facts:

  •  Name and Location
  •  Origin and Insertions
  •  Muscle Actions
  •  Joints Crossed
  •  Primary Planes Of Movement
  •  Exercise Examples

Dedicated to More

Hayley “Origin and Insertions of the Hamstrings” Bergman

Parallel Coaching

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