5 Best Hamstring Exercises for Women to Get Stronger Legs

There are several hamstring exercises women can do to get stronger legs. (Photo by Pavel Danilyuk via pexels)
There are several hamstring exercises women can do to get stronger legs. (Photo by Pavel Danilyuk via pexels)

Hamstring muscles are located on the back of your thigh. Walking, running, jumping and cycling are a few activities that involve the engagement of your hamstring muscles.

As they are extensors on your hips and flexors on your knees, hamstrings play a key role in helping undertake various activities and improving your overall athletic performance. Thus, it's worth incorporating hamstring exercises into your daily routine to get stronger legs and have a well-rounded lower-body workout session.

Best hamstring exercises for Women

To keep your hamstrings strong and in peak condition, include these five exercises in your leg workout day:

1) Sumo squat

Sumo squats are an effective exercise for your adductor muscles, inner thighs and hamstrings. The benefits of a sumo squat and a traditional squat are the same, but with a sumo squat, you’ll enhance the activation of your hamstrings and inner thighs.

How to do it:

  • Stand wider than your hip-width distance. Keep your toes pointed outside at a 45-degree angle. Keep your hips rotated outward.
  • Extend your arms at your shoulder height in front of you; tighten your core, and push your hips back.
  • Lower your body into a squat position, and hold at the bottom position. Make sure to keep your weight distributed equally in your heel and midfoot.
  • Do ten to 12 reps.

2) Single-leg deadlift

A single-leg deadlift isolates the hamstring muscles of your standing leg. You can use a kettlebell or dumbbell to keep your form correct and hamstrings working.

How to do it:

  • Stand straight on your left leg, and keep a soft bend in your knee. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand. Your right foot should be off the floor.
  • Push your body forward by pushing through your hips and moving the dumbbell towards the floor.
  • Make sure to keep your chest lifted and your right leg straight back behind you.
  • Go far as you can till you feel a stretch in your left hamstring.
  • Stand back up, while squeezing your glutes and returning to the initial position.
  • Complete the desired number of reps on the left leg. Switch to your right.
  • Do ten reps on each leg.

3) Bridge

The bridge helps to strengthen and isolate your glutes and hamstring muscles. It's a beginner-level exercise that is suitable for all fitness levels.

How to do it:

  • Place a mat on the floor, and lie down straight on your back. Bend your knees, and keep your feet flat on the floor but away from your butt. Your arms should be on your sides.
  • Engage your abs and glutes, and push your heels into the ground. Simultaneously lift your hips till your body gets in a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
  • Focus on squeezing your hamstrings, and pause in the position for a few seconds.
  • Lower you body to the initial position, and repeat.
  • Complete 15 reps.

4) Kettlebell swing

Kettlebell swings are one of those exercises that help burn calories, enhance cardio endurance and target several muscle groups in the upper and lower body. In addition to targeting the muscles, this exercise specifically helps enhance the activation of your hamstrings.

How to do it:

  • Place a kettlebell in front of you, and hold it by its horn. Keep your shoulders relaxed and down.
  • Stand with your feet wider than your hips, and keep your toes angled out.
  • Keeping a straight back, push your hips back, and move your torso forward to grab the kettlebell with both hands.
  • Do not bend your knees; instead hinge at your hips to bend down.
  • Holding the kettlebell, engage your core; move your shoulders back, and start the movement by squeezing your hamstrings and glutes to extend your hips.
  • Swing the kettlebell slowly in front of your chest, and make sure to keep your body weight towards your heel.
  • Do ten to 15 reps.

5) Lying leg curls

The lying leg curl is a very effective isolation exercise that particularly targets your hamstring muscles.

How to do it:

  • On a leg-curl machine, lie straight on your stomach. Adjust the pad according to your height such that it rests comfortably above your heels. Your legs should be fully stretched.
  • Hold the handles on either side of the leg-curl machine.
  • Lift both your feet, keeping your hips on the bench and pulling your ankles gently towards your glutes.
  • Slowly lower your leg to its initial position.
  • Do 15 reps.


Training your hamstring muscles can go a long way in keeping your legs and lower body healthy. If you are a beginner, start with a light weight and fewer reps before gradually increasing the weight and reps as you gain strength and confidence.

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