6 Best Hamstring Exercises for Stronger Legs

Training your hamstrings will help you run faster, jump higher, and bear more weight (Image via Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio)
Training your hamstrings will help you run faster, jump higher, and bear more weight (Image via Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio)

The hamstrings are the muscle's middle child. While hamstrings aren't the most attractive part of our body, they are quite useful in sports and everyday activities like sitting, walking, and running after the dog. Weak hamstrings can also put you at risk for injury, cause lower back pain or tightness, and throw off your posture and pelvic alignment.

Whether you're a leg day aficionado or prefer total-body workouts, chances are you're neglecting your hamstrings more than you should be. We tend to choose exercises that target the quads and the glutes, but hamstring strength is just as vital.

Best exercises that target your hamstring

Including a variety of hamstring exercises in your lower-body workout will ensure that you're exercising efficiently while also keeping your regimen balanced. Training your hamstrings will help you to run faster, jump higher, and bear more weight on leg day.

Check out this list of the six best hamstring exercises.

1) Sumo squat

Consider using sumo squats in your workout to target your inner thighs, adductor muscles, and hamstrings. The sumo squat provides the same benefits as a standard squat, but it also increases the inner thigh and hamstring activation.

Here are the steps to do the sumo squat correctly:

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width. Point your toes outward at a 45-degree angle. The rotation of your hips will be outward.
  • Raise your arms to shoulder height in front of you. Hold the dumbbells securely at the shoulders or in a goblet posture in front of your chest if you're utilising weight.
  • Take a deep breath, engage your core, and lower into a squat position by pushing your hips back.
  • At the bottom, pause, exhale, and return to a standing position. Maintain a balanced weight distribution at the heel and midfoot.
  • Perform 12โ€“15 repetitions.


2) Glute bridge

Bridge is a well-known exercise for strengthening the glutes and hamstrings. Beginners should start with both legs together, then graduate to a single-leg bridge by lifting one leg off the mat as you gain strength.

Here are the steps for doing a proper glute bridge:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lift your hips up by pressing through your heels until your entire body is in a straight line from your knees to your shoulder blades.
  • Construct your glutes and hamstrings by holding for a full breath.
  • Return to your original position.
  • Rep each leg for a total of 20 to 15 reps.


3) Bulgarian split squat

Split squats are excellent for developing your lower body, core, and spinal extensor muscles, and this variant lifts your back foot, which enhances hamstring activation.

Follow these steps to ace the Bulgarian split squat:

  • The distance between your legs should be shoulder-width. When you lunge, your front knee should not extend beyond your toes since your front foot is far enough forward.
  • Hold dumbbells in each hand and extend your arms down at your sides to load this squat.
  • Bend your front knee to drop into a split squat/lunge while keeping your shoulders back and core engaged.
  • To return to a standing position, press through your heel until your front leg's thigh is parallel to the ground.
  • Per set, do 8-10 reps per leg.


4) Nordic hamstring curls

For this workout, you'll need a partner or something to lock your heels beneath, and while the actual movement is small, you'll surely feel your hamstrings screaming if you do it well.

Here are the steps to do the Nordic hamstring curls perfectly:

  • Kneel on the mat with your back to your partner who will tie your feet and ankles to the ground (or hook them under something stationary).
  • Maintain a straight torso by pulling back your shoulder blades and lifting your chest. Cross your arms across your chest, and for added resistance, hold a weight plate against your body.
  • Lean slightly forward from your knees, keeping your body stiff and straight, and ensuring your hips stay locked in an extended posture until you feel a suitable stretch in your hamstrings.
  • Pull your body back to the starting position by contracting your glutes and hamstrings.
  • Per set, do 20 repetitions.


5) Lying leg curl

If you have access to a gym, the leg curl machine is an excellent way to target your hamstrings. If you're working out at home, try resting on your stomach with hefty ankle weights strapped on to mimic the motion.

Here are the steps to follow when doing lying leg curls properly:

  • With the pin, choose the weight you want.
  • Lie down on your stomach, feet flush against the footplates, ankles locked under the rollers.
  • Hold the handles on either side of the body platform with both hands.
  • Bring your heels to your buttocks by contracting your hamstrings and glutes. Ensure that your hips remain flush with the machine and do not rise.
  • Slowly drop the weight back down by extending your knees.
  • Perform 10 to 12 reps per set.


6) Reverse plank

The reverse plank is a moderately difficult exercise that works the core, glutes, hamstrings, and upper body.


Follow these steps to perform the reverse plank correctly:

  • On the floor, spread out an exercise mat. Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you.
  • Place your hands behind your back, palms down, fingers spread wide. Each hand should be on the outside of your hips, but parallel to your shoulders.
  • Lift your hips and upper torso towards the ceiling by pressing into your hands. From your head to your heels, your body should be in a straight line. Take a look up to the ceiling.
  • Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds, contracting your core, glutes, and hamstrings.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Perform 5โ€“10 repeats.

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Edited by Sabika
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