Hamstring exercises can help stabilize your knee joints and prevent knee injuries. Here are some sample routines.
RELATED: 10 Full Body Exercises To Get You In The Best Shape
In this article:
- Clean Deadlift
- Kettlebell Swing
- Cable or Band Pull-Through
- Single-Leg Swiss Ball Hamstring Curl
- Lying Leg Curls
- Hamstring Curl with Sliders
- Bulgarian Split Squat
7 Hamstring Exercises to Add to Your Workout
1. Clean Deadlift
This would be a terrible list if we didn’t include the deadlift. The clean deadlift slightly differs from the conventional deadlift in that it gives more tension to the hammies instead of the lower back.
Stance and movement wise, you need to bring your buttocks a little lower and place your hands wider. Here’s how to do it:
- Set the barbell close to your shins. Slightly turn your feet out.
- At about shoulder-width apart, grab on the bar with a double overhand grip. Squat down closer to the bar.
- Keep your spine extended, angling your shoulders in front of the barbell and your back as straight as you can.
- Assume an upright position, lifting the bar up while keeping your abs engaged. To avoid contact with the bar, flare your knees out to the side.
- Once the bar is up to your knees, finish the movement by driving your hips closer to the bar until your knees and hips are extended.
Overhand Grip Definition: Also called the pronated grip, this is when your palms are facing away from you.
2. Kettlebell Swing
Aside from training your hamstrings and glutes, performing kettlebell swings also burns tons of calories, boosts your endurance, and improves your posture, preventing lower back pains.
- With your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, stand up looking straight ahead. With a two-handed overhand grip, hold the kettlebell between your legs.
- Arch your lower back and bend your knees ’til the weight is behind and between your legs. Engage your glutes to extend your hips and swing the kettlebell up.
- Allow the kettlebell to swing back between your legs as you bend your hips. Bend your knees slightly.
- If the weight touches your buttocks, you’re nailing the exercise. Reverse the momentum by extending your hips and knees.
3. Cable or Band Pull-Through
A simpler alternative to doing kettlebell swings, cable pull-throughs are easier to learn and easier on the spine.
- Stand close in front of a low pulley with a rope or handle attached. Straddle the cable facing away from the machine, feet set wide apart.
- Start the exercise by reaching through your leg as far as you can, while bending at the hips. Remember to keep your knees slightly bent, too.
- Keep your hands straight and extend through the hip and stand upright. Do not pull outward the shoulders and keep the motion coming from the hips.
4. Single-Leg Swiss Ball Hamstring Curl
Consider it a lower body ultimate workout, this exercise induces direct hamstring activation and provides full-body stability while also training other muscles in your legs. It’s great for training major muscles in the midsection and lower half of the body for strength.
- Prep the exercise ball and your mat.
- Lie on the mat and rest your heels on the ball fully extending your legs and flexing your feet. Keep your arms relaxed on your side and lift your forearms off the floor by bending at the elbows.
- For your starting position, engage your core and contract your glutes as you lift your hips off the floor. Doing so will form a straight line from your heels to your shoulders.
- Then, raise your right foot straight in the air, flexing.
- Use your heel and squeeze your glutes and push down on the ball to elevate your hips as high as possible. Keep your glutes engaged.
- With a strong flexed foot and you left knee bent, pull the ball slowly towards your body.
- When the ball is several inches away from your buttocks, slowly reverse the movement and push your left heel to assume your starting position. Maintain the height of your hips when doing this.
5. Lying Leg Curls
A pretty solid exercise, lying leg curls can effectively isolate the hamstrings from the rest of the posterior chain. It can also promote knee stability and muscle balance.
- Adjust the level of the machine for your height and lie face down on it with lever pads on the back of your legs.
- With a straight torso on the bench, extend your legs fully, and toes straight, grab on the machine’s side handles.
- As you exhale, curl your legs up as high as you can while keeping the upper legs on the pad. Hold for a moment at the peak contraction.
- Bring back the legs to the starting position as you inhale.
6. Hamstring Curl with Sliders
Hamstring curl with sliders works well in targeting the hamstrings, glutes, and core.
- Lie on the floor with your face up, arms at your sides, palms down, legs extended and your heel on gliding discs. Bring your glutes upward about 1-2 inches off the floor while squeezing the muscles.
- Lift your hips as you move your heels closer to your glutes until your heels are under your knees. Slide your heel back to the original position, keeping your buttocks up.
- Repeat the movement.
7. Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian split squat targets the posterior chain that includes the back, glutes, and hamstrings. Unlike doing barbell squats, this is a single-leg exercise which may help and prevent imbalanced muscles.
One of the best dumbbell hamstring exercises, it’s easy to learn and, with proper form, it’s safe to execute.
- To start, set up a regular bench, a riser, or a few plates. Depending on which you find more comfortable, you can either place your front foot with a narrow or stretched out stance.
- Keep the dumbbells at your side, similar to how you would lift two briefcases.
- Bend and bring your rear foot down lowering your hips towards the ground. Continue descending ’til your back rounds and your back knee reaches the floor.
- Return to the starting position. Repeat as desired and switch your foot.
Here is a quick hamstring workout from Anabolic Aliens:
Aside from its importance for knee injury prevention, training your hamstrings gives you greater speed, power, and improved running economy. Add any of these 7 exercises to your routine and pump those hamstring muscles.
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Do you know any other hamstring strengthening exercises? Share them with us in the comments section below!