Strengthen your leg muscles with these superset hamstring exercises!
Try These Hamstring Exercises for Beginners
Why Do You Need Hamstring Strengthening Exercises?
The hamstrings get injured the most, especially with athletes who really push their hamstrings to their limits. That’s why strengthening them should be an essential part of your workout routine.
At the same time, people who sit all day or don’t exercise tend to develop weak glutes. This results in possible injuries when they’re used suddenly for sprinting or jumping.
7 Best Hamstring Exercises You Should Do
So if you’re looking for hamstring exercises you can start with to build strength or help loosen tight hamstrings, these exercises can help strengthen your hamstrings and glutes. You can also incorporate them into your workout routine.
1. Sumo Deadlift
Fitness Trainer Tim McComsey shows off two exercises designed to give your hamstrings that lovin' feeling they deserve.
The first exercise is the sumo deadlift with a dumbbell.
Follow the instructions below to do this exercise:
- Start in a fairly wide squat position with your knees and toes slightly pointing out.
- Hold the dumbbell with both hands in front of you. Bend down at the hips, keeping knees bent, and come back to the starting position.
- Perform 8–10 reps before moving directly into the lying leg curl.
Tip: The sumo deadlift is not a hip hinge exercise but a knee hinge one. This means you shouldn’t push your hips back first when doing this exercise.
2. Dumbbell Leg Curl
In this next exercise by Tim McComsey, you need to lie down on a bench with a dumbbell between your legs.
Follow the instructions below for this hamstring strength exercise:
- Lie face down on a flat bench and hold a dumbbell between your feet.
- Squeeze the legs and curl the dumbbell 10–12 times.
- You can take a short rest, then repeat the superset.
- Repeat 8 to 12 times. You can gradually increase reps as desired.
Tip: Never use a dumbbell too heavy for you. This forces the body to jerk when trying to lift the weight up which leads to injuries. Always start with a comfortable weight and gradually work your way up.
3. Kettlebell Swing
If you have a kettlebell, you can use it for your hamstring stretch exercise. Follow the instructions below:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart about two feet behind the kettlebell.
Get into the right position by drawing your shoulder blades back and puffing your chest. Level your pelvis with the ground by slightly tucking in your tailbone.
Lower your torso by bending your hips towards the back and grab the kettlebell with both hands.
Without curving your back, lower your torso down and shift your weight to your heels. Bending your knees a bit, lift the kettlebell from the ground and slightly swing it in between your legs.
Once your wrists reach your inner thigh, thrust your hips upward until you’re in a standing position while swinging the kettlebell forward up to eye level. You need to use your hamstring and glutes and not your upper body for this move.
Let the kettlebell fall back down between your legs, bending your knees to a slight squat.
Do 75 kettlebell swings a day, twice a week. If you want to go heavy, only do 50 swings a day. If you really want those muscle fibers burning, complete the 50 swings without interruption.
Trivia: For those looking for faster fat loss, doing 300 swings a day is the talk of the town right now.
4. Walking Lunge
You can do many hamstring exercises at home, like this walking lunge exercise. You can use dumbbells if you have some or your own body weight to do this exercise.
- Stand with your feet together. You can hold a dumbbell in each hand if you have one.
- Keeping your upper torso upright, step forward with your right foot then lower your left leg’s knee just slightly above the ground. Your right knee bends at a 90-degree angle and your right leg is parallel to the ground.
- Lift your body up to standing position and repeat the routine, this time stepping your left foot forward.
- Alternate your lunges.
- Complete 20 reps for each leg and repeat for 3 sets
Tip: Do not do lunges every day. This is a strength-training exercise, which requires a resting period for the muscles to repair and recover. Doing the lunges every day can put undue stress to the lower back, calves, and knees and you might not be able to practice the proper lunge form when this happens.
5. Swiss Ball Leg Curl
The Swiss ball leg curl is one of the best hamstring exercises you can do at home. All you need is a Swiss ball and you’re good to go!
Follow the steps below for this leg curl:
- Lie on your back on the floor with your leg elevated on a Swiss ball. Place your hands palms down on the floor beside your body.
- Squeeze your hamstrings and glutes and brace your ab muscles to push down on the ball as you lift your hips off the ground. Keep your neck relaxed as you hold your hips up into a bridge.
- Bend your knees to roll the ball towards you, bracing your core as you do so.
- Hold this position while stretching your hamstrings and glutes for two counts.
- Then release slowly, extending your legs to go back to the starting position.
- Do 8-15 reps for 3 sets
Tip: When performing the exercise, always keep the body straight at the top of the exercise, and don’t let the hips sag.
6. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
You need a dumbbell or kettlebell for this hamstring workout. To do this exercise, follow the steps below:
- Stand straight while holding a dumbbell at arm's length in front of you. Draw your shoulders down as you puff your chest out.
- Slightly tuck your tailbone to keep your pelvis parallel to the ground.
- Brace your ab muscles then shift your weight to your right foot and slightly lift your left foot from the floor while bending your right knee a bit.
- Your pelvis, spine, and head should make a straight line while keeping your balance as you lower your hand with the dumbbell.
- Keep your chest puffed as you lower your foot back and pull your body back to the starting position.
- Repeat the routine on the other foot. Make sure your toes point towards the ground when you raise your leg.
- For building mass, do 8-15 reps for 4-6 sets. For strength, do 3-8 reps for 4-6 sets
Tip: Never sacrifice the movement mechanics, including spine movement and range of motion, for loading. Always make sure to practice the proper form and motion.
7. Bulgarian Split Squat
You need a 12-inch high bench or a step for this exercise. Here are the instructions:
- Stand in front of a bench, with your body facing the opposite way.
- Step back and place and put your left foot on the bench or step. Your left knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle while your right foot faces the front.
- Straighten your back, keep your gaze forward, and your shoulders pulled back as you slowly bend your right knee low enough for your left knee to almost touch the ground.
- Hold that position for a few counts, then get up to a standing position, stretching your glutes.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times per leg
Tip: Your distance to the bench matters greatly. If you stand closer to the bench, the exercise engages the quads more. This can also result in knee pain. Meanwhile, if you stand farther from the bench, it can strain the hip flexors and the groin for men. Experiment so you can find the best distance you’re most comfortable with.
Watch these Superset Hamstring Exercises from Sunwarrior:
Before doing these hamstring exercises, make sure you warm up your muscles to avoid any hamstring injury.
Couple exercise with good nutrition to achieve overall health and well-being. Get the protein and nutrients you need by adding Sunwarrior Warrior Blend to your daily meal plan.
Do you know other hamstring exercises? Share your workout routine in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 22, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.