Want to know the best exercises for hamstrings? Your hamstrings are easy to overlook when it comes to your leg training. With them being at the back of your legs, they aren’t always a priority. But they’re still one of the biggest muscle groups in your legs and need to be trained just like anything else if you want to increase your overall strength. That’s where you need the best hamstring exercises for the job.
We’ve compiled this list of our top five exercises for hamstrings. These exercises will definitely leave you feeling the burn and seeing some impressive increases and strength and size. They’re all variable, too, letting you change your purpose and the weights you use.
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Ball Leg Curls
Kicking off our list of exercises for hamstrings is leg curls using an exercise ball. These are the best way to do leg curls since you have the ball for support and added safety (without joint stress). What makes it even better is the other stuff it offers as an exercise too. The ball means not only no stress but more core activation, too.
To do it, lie on your back on the floor with your legs elevated onto an exercise ball. Once you’re comfortable to continue, you need to bend your knees to roll the ball towards you, hold for a second, and then slowly roll it back again. This backwards movement will cause your torso to leave the floor more and more as the ball slides under you, making it great for your back and core.
You can have a list of the best hamstring exercises without some kind of deadlift. They’re an amazing full leg workout in one exercise. The Romanian deadlift is a great variation that completely isolates your hamstrings in a way that very few other leg exercises can actually do. It forces a complete contraction, and with perfect form, it will likely be the most effective hamstring strengthener on the list.
To perform it, you need to start in a standard deadlift position to get the bar off the ground. From there, lower the bar and push your glutes and hips backwards until your hamstrings are completely extended. After that, contract as you bring your hips back forwards to complete the rep. Keep a straight back as always with the deadlift, and you’ll feel the effects in no time.
Staying with some of the bigger lifts on the list, the power snatch is another of the best exercises you could ever choose from too. The power snatch is another compound exercise (which already has a tonne of benefits), but it undeniably still hits the hamstrings hard. It’s reasonably simple once you manage to master it and will likely be in your next workout.
The idea is to start in a standard deadlift position again, but this time, as you lift the bar with your posterior chain, push your hips back slightly again and lift the bar, so it’s above your head. Once you’re at the top, push your hips forward for the extra height rapidly and really hit the hamstrings. With this one it’s getting into plyometric territory, and that’s never a bad thing for power.
Single Leg Deadlifts
Any exercise that involves a single leg will sound extremely difficult, but your hamstrings will thank you for it in the long run. Adding a deadlift to the single-leg situation, and things get even trickier. Luckily, you can use any equipment you like to make it easier. You can use both a kettlebell and a dumbbell for the exercise, depending on which feels the best for you, and the great thing about this exercise is that it puts less stress on the back. It does have its benefits.
Like any deadlift, and as the name suggests, you need to stand with one leg in the air. That’s a good start. From there, lean forward so you can grab the weight (kettlebells have higher handles) and then contract your hamstrings to straighten yourself upward again. Repeat this for however many reps you are wanting to complete one leg at a time rather than alternating for the most efficient way to do it. And remember to keep a straight back.
Last but not at all least, we have swings. This is one of the more iconic exercises on the list, and for good reason too! It does use most of your posterior chain, but it’s your hamstrings that are really setting the weight in motion. It is, however, difficult to not involve your upper body and perform what is essentially a front raise. Really focus on your hips.
With your feet shoulder-width apart and the kettlebell between them, pick it up and push your hips back to begin the backward motion. Then, quickly push forward again using your hamstrings and thrust the weight upward to shoulder height and back down again. Don’t let the momentum build up too much, and keep things controlled.
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If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.