Everything You Need To Know About Strengthening Your Hamstrings

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Strong hamstrings improve your overall strength, flexibility, balance and boost athletic performance. Reverse Hyper is a great beginner exercise for someone with weak hamstrings. Exercises like split squats, Russian leg curl and single leg deadlift can quickly improve hamstring strength. Sliding leg curls strengthen both knee flexion and hip extensions at the same time.

Strengthening the hamstrings will improve your overall strength, and boost athletic performance. In fact, these exercises will help loosen the hamstrings a bit. They will also strengthen the gluteal muscles – which are vital for core and full body strength. Now say goodbye to weak hamstrings – here are some of the best body-weight exercises for strengthening the hamstrings.

Hamstring Strengthening Exercises

1. Single Leg Deadlift

The single leg deadlift targets the hamstring more than most leg exercises do. It will also improve your flexibility and balance. It might take some time to execute this exercise if your legs are weak, but it is definitely worth it.

How To Perform

  • Stand upright with feet together.
  • Bring the torso forward and downwards as you simultaneously lift the left foot backwards. The supporting knee should be slightly bent.
  • Keep your back straight and go down until you touch the floor on one hand or both – depending on your flexibility.
  • Return to starting position by lowering the leg and raising the torso at the same time.
  • Repeat until failure and do the same number of reps for each leg.

See demonstration video

2. Split Squats

If there is one exercise that is always in my workout routine, it is the split squat. It stretches and strengthens the hamstrings.

How To Perform

  • Stand upright with hands on the waist and then place one foot on a surface behind you (surface should be your knee-height).
  • The rear foot should be bent at a 90 degree angle and front foot should remain straight.
  • Lower yourself by bending the front knee.
  • Go down until the rear knee almost touches the floor and the front knee is bent at a 90 degree angle.
  • Then slowly rise until the front foot straightens, then repeat.

See demonstration video

3. Russian Leg Curl

I am not a big fan of this exercise because it puts pressure on my knees. But, some people do not feel any discomfort while doing it, so you can give it a try. It is an advanced exercise that can increase hamstring strength fast.

How To Perform

  • Kneel on a pillow or a soft surface to reduce pressure on the knees.
  • Ask someone to press your heels on the floor or wedge your feet under a rail or a steady couch.
  • Keep the thighs, hips and torso aligned in a straight line.
  • Tighten the glutes and lower yourself – use the hamstrings to support the body.
  • Once you get on the floor, use the arms to push yourself off the floor and reverse the movement.
  • Try to engage the hamstrings when doing this exercise.
  • For more hamstring activation do the exercise without hand-support.

See demonstration video

4. Reverse Hyper

It is a great beginner exercise for someone with weak hamstrings.

How To Perform

  • Place your upper body (lie on your stomach) on a sturdy and high table that is about your hip-height.
  • Your hips should be on the edge of the table and the knees straight.
  • Use your arms to keep the torso on the table and then raise your legs and squeeze the glutes at the top.
  • Slowly lower the feet to starting position and repeat.

Tip: avoid rounding your back when doing this exercise.

See demonstration video

5. Sliding Leg Curls

This is a great hamstring exercise which strengthens both knee flexion and hip extensions at the same time. You need a smooth floor to do this exercise.

How To Perform

  • Lie flat on your back with knees bent and arms on the side – place your feet on a piece of cloth to ease the sliding, or use sliding exercise discs.
  • Slide your feet forward until the buttocks almost touch the floor. Then slide back to starting position, and repeat.
  • Keep your hips extended throughout and avoid sinking the hips when doing this exercise.

See demonstration video

With these exercises you will be able to strengthen your hamstrings and even loosen them up. Lastly, I got a few remedies for pulled hamstrings, if you injure yourself during training.

What To Do If You Pull or Strain Your Hamstrings

This is not a treatment method of any sort, you should see a doctor if you pull or strain your hamstring. These are just remedies you can use before you see the doctor.

1. Use Ice

Place ice on the pulled hamstring to reduce pain and inflammation. Do this for immediately after the injury. You can even apply it several times a day for 10 – 15 minutes. This may not help a lot if it is a major injury. But, it will help relieve the pain before you see a doctor.

2. Rest From Training

Never train a muscle when it is injured. Especially not the hamstring since it is so sensitive. Give the muscle time to repair and avoid putting pressure on it.

Final Word

Just because the hamstrings are out of sight, it does not mean you should ignore them. Just add some of these exercises to your regimen and do remember to stretch the hamstrings after your workouts.

Brian Syuki

Brian Syuki is a fitness expert who teaches people how to get leaner and healthier using bodyweight exercises and proper nutrition.

Brian Syuki

Brian Syuki is a fitness expert who teaches people how to get leaner and healthier using bodyweight exercises and proper nutrition.