The hamstrings are three muscles that form the back of the thigh. Exercises for hamstrings flex the knee and extend the hip and are an essential muscle group for overall strength and power.
You can strengthen your hamstrings in a variety of ways — like doing squats, lunges, and deadlifts. However, there's no doubt you'll get even better results with machine exercises. The following gym machine exercises for hamstrings can help you build strong hamstrings in no time.
Best Gym Exercises for Hamstrings
Here's a look at six such exercises for hamstrings:
1) Lying Leg Curl
The lying leg curl is one of the most effective strengthening exercises for hamstrings.
To do this exercise:
- Lie down on your stomach, with your legs extended and feet flat on the floor.
- Lift the heels up off of the floor, and place them between two weight stacks so that they are secured by them.
- Bend both knees to approximately 45 degrees, and hold for five seconds before returning to the starting position.
Repeat for three sets of ten reps each with about two minutes between each set. Rest for 30 seconds between sets.
2) Seated Leg Curl
Seated leg curls are a great exercise for hamstrings. They can be done with or without ankle weights, which makes it easy to change the degree of difficulty.
Here’s how you do this exercise:
- Sit down on the machine, and place your knees under the pads.
- Slowly pull up on your heels till you feel a good stretch in your hamstring, which will probably take some time.
- Slowly lower back down till they almost touch the floor again. If you don’t feel any pain when doing so, keep going. Perform 8-10 repetitions.
3) Standing Leg Curl
This machine helps to strengthen the hamstrings. Here's how the standing leg curl exercises for hamstrings are done:
- Stand facing the machine, and place your left foot on the platform of the hamstring machine so that it rests between two rollers while your right foot is n front of you.
- Grasp the handles or pads on either side of you, if they are available.
- Slowly raise your heels up towards your buttocks till your toes point upwards. Lower them back down till your calves are stretched out. Repeat ten times, and switch sides
4) Smith Machine Stiff-leg Deadlift
Stiff-leg deadlift on the smith machine is a great beginner exercise for hamstrings and advanced trainers alike.
While the classic deadlift is great by itself, the smith machine for hamstrings adds a layer of security and stability to an exercise that may seem risky and unnecessarily harmful to the lower back.
To do a Smith machine stiff-leg deadlift:
- Set your feet a bit wider than hip-width apart.
- Stand up with a barbell at waist level, and bend over so that the bar touches the ground.
- Keep your feet straight and knees locked.
- Pull up while keeping your back flat, and go down slowly till you feel a stretch in the hamstrings.
- Perform 8-12 reps on each leg.
While doing this exercise, keep your arms straight at all times and maintain range of motion so that they don't get hurt by putting too much pressure on them or getting pulled back by the weight of the barbell. Also, try not to lean forward too much, as that will put unnecessary stress on the lower back. That could lead to injury if done incorrectly for extended periods.
5) Smith Machine Romanian Deadlift
The Smith machine Romanian deadlift is a great compound exercise to target the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
To do this exercise:
- Set the bar on pins so that it’s at mid-thigh height.
- Put the bar across your upper back, and rest it against the rack (not your neck).
- Keep your knees slightly bent, and push your hips back as far as you can without having them go past your toes.
- Keep a straight line from your head to heels throughout this movement. Keep your chest up when raising the weight off the floor during each repetition.
- Lower yourself by bending at the knees first before moving your hips forward into a standing position again, using your glutes for added support throughout the entire movement.
- Remember not to fully reset. Come back up before the barbell hits the ground.
6) Leg Press
The leg press machine is a great addition to add to your list of exercises for hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps. The leg press is beneficial for both men and women, as it can help develop stronger muscles in the lower body.
Here's how to do a seated leg press:
- Sit down at the leg press station
- Adjust the weight according to your requirements. Most people can generally leg press more than they can deadlift and squat, so be mindful of how much weight you add.
- Place your feet in front of you on the raised platform.
- Release the lever. You will feel a shift of force onto your feet.
- Slowly bring the weight down to yourself by bending your knees.
- Push back up, but remember not to lock put (hyperextend your knees). That could be fatal and cause irreversible damage to your knees.
- Repeat for as many reps as you can.
With the aforementioned exercises for hamstrings, you can build stronger and healthier hamstrings. You can also perform them as part of a leg workout, or do them on your own.
Start with any of these exercises for hamstrings per leg, and gradually increase the number of sets till you reach three sets per leg. Train hard, and balance these workouts with other variations of exercises for hamstrings. Soon, you'll be sporting a pretty hefty set of hamstrings.
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