The hamstrings are one of the largest muscles in the body, so it’s no surprise that they demand doing exercise regularly and a lot of work to build. While you can do hamstring exercises on machines, we advocate the use of free weights because they allow for a greater range of motion and more effective muscle activation.
The following five exercises are some of our favorites for building strong and healthy hamstrings:
Best Exercises To Build And Boost Your Hamstring Muscles
1. Single-Leg Deadlift
Incorporating single-leg deadlifts into your routine is a great way to build your hamstrings and balance. This exercise will work out most of your hamstring muscles as well as some from the glutes, which will give you more power in this movement, making it easier to perform many repetitions without losing form or getting fatigued from working these areas too much.
To perform the exercise:
- Stand on one leg with your other leg extended behind you.
- The front foot must be flat on the ground and the rear foot off of it with toes pointed up.
- Bend down at the hips keeping your back straight, and pick up a dumbbell or kettlebell by bending at the knees.
- Once you have lifted up the weight, hold it for a second, then slowly lower it back down again until both knees are bent.
- Repeat this action for 10-15 reps before switching legs and repeating again for another set of 10-15 reps per side.
2. Glute Bridge
As a compound exercise, the glute bridge will engage your core and hamstrings. This means it targets two of your biggest muscle groups.
To perform this exercise:
- Lie on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Lift your hips so that only your lower back is touching the ground, forming a straight line from head to heels. This is your starting position.
- Holding this position, raise one leg off of the floor while keeping both legs straight. You can keep them together or slightly separated.
- Return to starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.
Step-ups are great for developing your hamstrings and glutes, which can help you improve your balance and coordination. They also help strengthen the quadricep muscles in your thighs, as well as strengthen the calves of your legs. Step-ups are a great way to increase overall fitness levels, while improving muscle tone.
To do a step up:
- Stand behind a box or a bench and raise one leg in front of you.
- Take this raised leg forward and place it on the bench.
- Push through and step up.
- Find your balance and hold for a few seconds.
- Return to the starting position and repeat with the same leg.
- Once you’ve completed 10-12 reps, switch over to the other leg and repeat the same.
4. Sumo Squats
Sumo squats are a variation of the conventional squat. However, this places more emphasis on glutes and hamstrings. The wider stance of this squat encourages your hamstrings to stretch more, deepening and enhancing muscular contractions.
To do the sumo squat:
- Stand with your feet twice as wide as shoulder-width apart and point your toes out at a 45-degree angle.
- Next, lower your hips toward the ground by bending at the knee.
- Keep in mind that this is not a full squat, and you have to focus on keeping your upper body upright so that it doesn’t lean forward.
- When you have reached a 90-degree angle where both knees are bent and only one foot is on the floor, push up with both legs and return to a standing position.
- Continue for 10 to 12 repetitions per set three times per week if you’re new to this exercise or five times per week if you’re more experienced with it.
- If done correctly, these squats will increase hamstring strength while also improving posture due to improved core stabilization!
5. Hamstring Curls
Hamstring curls are a great exercise for building your hamstrings. They can be performed on a seated or standing hamstring curl machine, or on the floor with your body weight as resistance.
To perform this exercise:
- Lie on a hamstring curl bench, and place your feet against the pad of a seated hamstring curl machine.
- Make sure that your toes point down and that you bend from the hip, not the knee.
- Hold onto handles firmly with both hands before you pull the plates up so that they’re forming a right angle to the bench.
- Slowly lower the plates just before your knees touch the platform below by bending at hips until your calves are fully stretched.
- Hold this position for two seconds before returning back up again without resetting.
- Repeat 15 times per set.
These are five of the best exercises you should be doing to build and boost your hamstring muscles. They all provide different benefits, but they are all great for building strength in your legs. We know that not everyone has access to a gym or equipment, but don’t worry! There are plenty of exercises that you can do at home without any equipment or weights!
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