Having strong and toned hamstrings is key to having a balanced and healthy body. Not only do they provide stability when you’re lifting weights, but they also help prevent injuries during physical activity. Strong hamstrings are a key part of a strong body, and any personal trainer worth their salt will have you working on them.
To get the most out of your hamstring workout, it’s important to choose exercises that target all areas of the muscle group. So here’s 10 that dude just that, incorporate a few of these into your workouts and you’ll feel the benefit across all your exercises.
Glute Bridge: The glute bridge is an excellent exercise for activating and toning the hamstrings. It works by engaging your glutes and core to lift your hips off the ground, which in turn activates your hamstrings. To perform this exercise, lay flat on your back with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Push through your heels to drive your hips upward until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Lower yourself back down slowly and repeat the exercise for 10 reps.
Romanian Deadlift: The Romanian deadlift is an effective compound exercise that targets both hamstrings and glutes. To perform this exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a barbell in front of you using an overhand grip. Keeping your back flat, bend at the hips while keeping your legs as straight as possible until you feel a stretch on the hamstring muscles. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 8-12 reps.
Single-Leg Deadlift: The single-leg deadlift is another great exercise for targeting the hamstrings as well as improving balance and stability. To perform this exercise, stand on one foot with your other leg bent behind you. Engage your core and keep your back straight while you extend the opposite leg forward and slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in your back leg’s hamstring. Return to the starting position and repeat for 8-12 reps on each side.
Kettlebell Swing: The kettlebell swing is an effective exercise that targets all areas of the hamstrings with just one movement. To do this exercise, start by standing tall with feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in front of you. Send the hips back as if sitting into a chair while lifting the kettlebell up with arms straight. Drive the hips forward and swing the kettlebell to chest height, then return back down and repeat for 10-12 reps.
Bulgarian Split Squat: The Bulgarian split squat is a great exercise that targets your hamstrings while also training balance and stability. To perform this exercise, stand in front of a bench or box with one foot on it behind you and one foot out in front. Lower yourself towards the ground until your knee is at 90 degrees, keeping your chest up throughout the movement. Return to starting position and repeat for 8-12 reps on both sides.
Good Mornings: Good mornings are an awesome way to target all areas of the hamstring muscles in one go! To do this exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a barbell across your back. Keeping your chest up and core engaged, bend forward at the hips while keeping your legs as straight as possible until you feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Return to starting position and repeat for 8-12 reps.
Hamstring Curls: The hamstring curl is an isolation exercise specifically targeting the hamstring muscles. To perform this exercise, start by laying flat on your stomach with a band or cable machine attached around both ankles. Engage your abs and push through your heels to bring them towards the glutes until you feel contraction in the hamstrings, then slowly return to starting position and repeat for 10-15 reps.
Donkey Kicks: Donkey kicks are a great exercise for hitting the hamstrings as well as glutes and hips. To do this exercise, start in an all-fours position with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Lift one leg back until the thigh is parallel to the floor while squeezing your glutes, then return to starting position and repeat on the other side for 10-12 reps on each side.
Step-Ups: Step-ups are a simple but effective way to target both hamstrings and glutes at once. To perform this exercise, stand tall in front of a bench or box with feet shoulder-width apart. Place one foot onto the bench and push through that leg to bring yourself up and onto the bench. Lower back down with control and repeat for 8-12 reps on each side.
Reverse Lunges: Reverse lunges are another great exercise for targeting all areas of the hamstrings as well as glutes, quads, and hips. To do this exercise, stand tall with feet hip-width apart and take a large step backwards while bending both knees to 90 degrees until your rear knee almost touches the floor. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side for 10 reps per leg.
These exercises are effective ways to build strong and toned hamstrings that will promote better overall fitness. Make sure to incorporate rest days into your routine in order to give your hammies time to recover from the drilling you give them when you start sticking any of these in your routine.