10 Best Hamstring Exercises To Give You Strong Legs

A considerable amount of gym lovers only focus on training their chest, arms, shoulders, and back, neglecting the importance of developing a strong, toned set of legs by doing some of the best hamstring exercises available.

However, the irony is that these same people also dedicate a substantial amount of time each week to cardiovascular exercise, like running, powerwalking, and the elliptical, failing to realize that the hamstring muscles play a dominant role throughout.

When many people say they train their legs, they are – in the main – referring to exercising their quadriceps, the long muscle on the front of the thigh.

However, the issue here is that one neglects the hamstrings, which means one becomes “quad dominant,” a term used to describe the overdevelopment of the quadriceps muscle in comparison to the hamstrings.

Suppose the imbalance between the quadriceps and the hamstrings is sufficient. In that case, one is more likely to experience severe muscle pain and more injuries such as minor or significant tears in the hamstrings. Knee injuries are also common.

It is worth noting that the hamstrings are a relatively fragile and vulnerable muscle, which is why it is crucial to develop a solid set of legs to reduce the risk of injury, not to mention the increase in sports performance you will see.

Without further ado, take your leg development to the next level starting today by doing the following hamstring exercises.

Best Hamstring Exercises

1. Kettlebell Swing

Not only do kettlebell swings target the hamstrings, but they also give your cardiovascular system a workout, they burn calories, and you use many different muscle groups at the same time.

  1. It’s essential to start with your feet hipwidth apart, hips back, knees slightly bent, and your torso at 45 degrees. Grab the kettlebell handle with both hands and extend your arms, so the kettlebell rests between your legs on the floor.
  2. Brace your glutes, straighten your legs, lift your torso, and thrust your hips forward, all in one motion while simultaneously swinging the weight to around the height of your chest, keeping the arms straight.
  3. Return to the start, bringing the bell between both legs.
  4. Complete 10 reps and repeat.

2. Reverse Plank

This exercise is not only good for the hamstrings; it hits the core and upper body well too.

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you and put your hands a little bit behind you, ensuring your palms are down and fingers spread wide. Both hands should be lined up with your shoulders.
  2. Lift your hips and torso by pressing into your hands. Make sure your body forms straight line from head to toe and look up to the ceiling.
  3. Engage your glutes, hamstrings, and core and hold for 20-30 seconds.
  4. Lower down to starting position.
  5. Repeat.

3. Lying Leg Curl Machine

You’ll need the gym to perform this exercise unless you have the luxury of a home gym. Either way, it is one of my absolute best hamstring exercises as it isolates and targets the hamstrings amazingly well.

  1. Select your weight by putting the pin in the pin rack.
  2. Lie on your stomach with ankles locked tight under the rollers.
  3. Hold both hands on the handles on either side of you.
  4. Bring your heels and hamstrings up to your glutes, and ensure your hips stay stuck to the pad and do not rise.
  5. Slowly lower the weight down by extending your knees.
  6. Complete 10 reps and repeat.

4. Dumbbell Deadlift

  1. Hold the dumbbells in both hands at your sides with arms straight.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and lean forward at your hips.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbells to the ground while keeping your back straight.
  4. Return to starting position, ensuring your core is engaged throughout.

5. Walking Lunge

 

  1. Either hold a dumbbell in each hand or use your bodyweight only and stand with feet together.
  2. Take a large lunge forward using your right leg, ensuring your torso is upright. Lower your body until your back knee is about an inch off the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the floor.
  3. Return to standing position, then step forward using your left foot and repeat.
  4. Alternate steps.

6. Single-Leg Bridge

This exercise is similar to the standard bridge, except you’re raising one leg while you’re in it, so it isolates the hamstrings and glutes.

  1. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor about one foot away from your glutes. Allow your arms to rest by your sides.
  2. Contract your abs and glutes while pushing your heels into the floor. Lift your hips and ensure your body is in a straight line, shoulder to knees. Squeeze those hamstrings.
  3. Lift and extend your left leg while simultaneously keeping your pelvis raised. Keep your right foot on the floor.
  4. Hold for 3 seconds, then bring your glutes back down to the floor. Make sure your left leg is raised and extended.
  5. Lower down to the starting position and do the same with the raised left leg before changing it to the right leg.
  6. Keep alternating until you complete 10 reps, then repeat.

7. Traditional Deadlift

Deadlifts are the daddy of all exercises. They work your posterior chain like nothing else. I firmly believe there isn’t a better exercise out there that plays such a pivotal role in strengthening your hamstrings. It can take some practice to master the move, but you can pull some impressive numbers to add some meat to those hamstrings once you have.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms down at your sides, and of course, the barbell at your ankles.
  2. Sit into your hips as much as possible. Be as far back into them as you possibly can, and while you do, raise your body to the standing position. Keep your back straight and track the bar up to your shins (some people graze their shins doing this. I’m one of them)
  3. Lower the bar slowly. You can do this by sitting your hips back again. Keep your gaze at a neutral point throughout.
  4. Complete 10 reps, then repeat.

8. Dumbbell Good Morning

You can use a barbell for this exercise, but it’s unnecessary. Using dumbbells works precisely the same muscles, minus the load on your shoulder and spine, so it’s all good.

  1. Holding a dumbbell to your chest, keep your shoulders down and chest up. Make a hinge at the hips and create a soft bend in the knees until your torso is parallel with the floor, maintaining a neutral back.
  2. Pause for 1-2 seconds and return to the start.
  3. Repeat.

9. Dumbbell Reverse Lunge

  1. Stand with feet nearly shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with arms resting at both sides. Make sure palms are facing in.
  2. Lift your right foot and come back a couple of feet on the ball of your foot, keeping your heel off the ground. Bend your knees, making sure your left quad and right shin are parallel to the floor. Lean your torso forward a little to make your back flat. Do not arch or round your back. The left knee should be above your left foot and engage your glutes and core.
  3. Use your heel to push through the left foot up to the starting position. This is rep number one.
  4. Do the necessary amount of reps and repeat on the other leg.

10. Single-Leg Deadlift

This exercise completely isolates the hamstring muscle of the leg you’re standing on. How much weight you use shouldn’t be a priority; your form should. If you do these properly, you’ll be sore the next day!

  1. With a soft knee bend, stand on the right leg while holding a kettlebell in your right hand. The left foot will be off the ground.
  2. Tilt your body forward by coming from the waist and moving the weight down to the floor while ensuring your chest is up. The left leg should go straight back behind you and go as far back as possible until you feel enough tension in your right hamstring.
  3. As you come back up straight, squeeze your glutes until you end up back in the start position.
  4. Do all necessary reps on the right leg, then move to the left leg.

About the author

Chris Jones

I'm Chris. I have a vast interest in all things relating to health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition. I also love to improve my mindset and learn how to increase my productivity. If you'd like to say hello or ask me a question, please visit my contact page, and I'd be glad to hear from you. Alternatively, you can find me on Twitter (@liveliftlife).

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