10 Exercises for the Hamstrings

The hamstrings are three muscle extensions made up of the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris muscles. These are located at the back of the thighs and allow the leg to flex through the movements of the knee and extend the pelvis.

The hamstrings are one of the most used muscles during exercise and stretching routines. Do you have any physical training routines? Do you know why we should exercise the hamstrings? In this article, we are going to show you why it is necessary to exercise them and we will give you 10 exercises for the hamstrings that will help you strengthen these muscles and increase their flexibility.

Table Of Content

1. Hamstring exercises – why should they be done?
2. Russian skipping
3. Pelvic lift or isometric bridge with bent knees
4. Isometric bridge sliding feet
5. Hamstring stretch or hamstring curls
6. Nordic curl
7. Hip extension with slight knee flexion
8. Machine Upside Down Leg Curl
9. Romanian deadlift
10. Frog Bridge
11. supine hip raise

Hamstring exercises – why should they be done? 

When injuries are suffered in our body, specifically in the muscles, these can cause recurring pain for a long time and recovery can be very slow.

Injury to the hamstring muscles requires more attention since these muscles are essential to perform a large number of physical activities such as jumping, running, walking, extending the hip, and bending the knee when sitting, among others. Due to their daily use, they are always at risk of injuring themselves again when making sudden movements or movements that require greater strength and intensity.

Among the main reasons why you should perform hamstring exercises we have:

  • They are the muscles that suffer the most in training sessions.
  • To prevent re-injury or susceptibility to injury.
  • To quickly and effectively recover from injuries to that muscle area.
  • To relieve post-traumatic pain after accidents or surgeries that have caused a muscle rupture or other pathologies.
  • To increase and improve flexibility when extending the hip or flexing the knee.

The hamstring or femoral muscles are made up of the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris muscles. These form in the pelvis and end in the fibula and tibia. Its main functions are to flex the knee and extend the hip. There is a wide variety of exercises that can be done to exercise the hamstring muscles, below, we bring you 10 of them so you know how to practice them step by step.

Russian skipping

This no-machine hamstring exercise works muscle power, explosive strength, and symmetry. Practice it to strengthen the hamstring muscles and prevent injuries during your workouts, especially if you practice running.

  1. Stand on flat ground or a running track to perform this exercise.
  2. Calculate about 50 free meters of linear displacement.
  3. Relax your body before starting this exercise.
  4. Move by raising your legs with each stride without bending your knees.
  5. After reaching the end, return to the starting point the same way you did initially.
  6. Repeat this back and forth four times and then rest for about five minutes.
  7. Do 4 sessions.

Pelvic lift or isometric bridge with bent knees

Pelvic lift

This exercise is great for helping you recover from hamstring injuries. In addition, it is very easy to perform and allows you to tighten the hamstrings and glutes, helping to increase the strength in these muscles. To do it, just follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your back, with your back and palms flat on the ground.
  2. Bend your knees.
  3. Make a contraction of the muscles raising the pelvis to its maximum height, without allowing the feet to take off the ground.
  4. Gently lower your pelvis, without letting your buttocks touch the surface.
  5. Perform a series of four sessions composed of 20 repetitions with 30-second rest intervals between sessions.

Isometric bridge sliding feet

Isometric bridge sliding feet

The hamstrings play an important role in leg flexibility. This isometric bridge exercise is great for improving pelvic and knee flexibility, so it will help you become more flexible overall.

  1. Lie on your back with your palms facing the floor.
  2. Put a towel or cloth under your feet so you can slide them freely on the floor.
  3. Bend your knees.
  4. Raise your hips as far as you can and slide your feet out without touching the ground with your buttocks.
  5. Pick up your feet again, lower your hips to the ground without touching it.
  6. Repeat this exercise 15 times.
  7. Rest for about 30 seconds and do the exercise again for about four sessions of 15 repetitions each.

Hamstring stretch or hamstring curls

hamstring curls

In addition to strengthening your hamstrings, hamstring stretching and stretching exercises increase flexibility in your knees, giving your legs the strength to withstand high-impact exercises. You can do these hamstring exercises at the gym on a Smith machine or parallel bar.

  1. Lie on your back under a Smith machine or low parallel bar. You should be able to support it with your arms as you extend them from the ground.
  2. Grab the bar or machine with both hands.
  3. Raise your body slightly and extend your legs as far as you can.
  4. Rest your heels on the ground and, with the strength of your legs, lift your body by bending your knees.
  5. You should be in a bridge position but with your arms attached to the bar.
  6. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement 10 times.
  7. Do 4 sessions resting about 30 seconds between each one.

Nordic Curl

Nordic curl

The Nordic curl is a great exercise to increase knee flexibility and strengthen your hamstrings. You can do it at the gym or, if you prefer hamstring exercises at home, you can find a surface to hook your feet on. We explain how to do the Nordic curl here:

  1. Get down on your knees on a soft surface or mat.
  2. Place your feet on a support that supports them without moving. You can put them under a bench, a horizontal bar, or you can have a partner hold them while you do the exercise.
  3. Drop forward in one smooth motion. As you reach the ground, support yourself on your hands. Focus on controlling the movement with your hamstrings.
  4. Push yourself up with your hands and repeat the movement 10 times.
  5. Do 4 sessions with one-minute intervals between each.

Hip extension with slight knee flexion

This exercise is very simple to perform, but in the end it will strengthen your hamstrings to prevent future injuries.

  1. Lie on your back and find an elevated surface on which you can place your feet. When supported, the extended legs should form an angle of 20 degrees with respect to the ground.
  2. Slightly bend your knees and leave your hands on the floor.
  3. Activate your abdomen and buttocks to raise your hips as high as you can. Hold this position for about 10 seconds.
  4. Go down very gently and repeat the movement 10 times.
  5. Do 4 sessions with 30-second breaks between each.
  6. You can increase the intensity of the exercise, raise one leg by raising the hip and keep it as straight as possible for at least 5 seconds.
  7. Lower your leg and hip gently, repeat the exercise changing legs.

Machine Upside Down Leg Curl

Machine Upside Down Leg Curl

This type of hamstring exercise in the gym is especially recommended for those who suffer from cruciate ligament rupture injuries or suffer from knee hypertension. Likewise, it can also be practiced for warming up in the gym before your exercise routine.

  1. As you can see in the image, lie face down on the machine and bend your knees slightly, with your heels under the pad.
  2. Make sure you don’t separate your torso from the machine and that your legs are kept as straight as possible before beginning the exercise.
  3. To start, bend your legs up as you exhale. Hold the position for 1 second.
  4. Lower your knees again gently.
  5. Repeat the movement 15 times.
  6. Do 2 sessions with 20 seconds of rest between each one.

Romanian deadlift

Romanian deadlift

In addition to strengthening your arms, with this exercise you can improve the flexibility of your knees and stretch your hamstrings with each movement. Practicing it is very easy, you can do it with a bar with or without weights at the gym or with dumbbells from home.

  1. Grab a barbell, weights, or dumbbells.
  2. Place your hands at a slight angle outward. The hands should not be perpendicular to the bar or weights.
  3. To start, raise the bar and lower it by making a small bend in the knees.
  4. Now lightly support the bar on your thighs with your arms extended.
  5. Keep the sword completely straight and begin to lower the bar without bending your knees as far as you can. Don’t force the movement. Pull your buttocks back as you go down.
  6. Climb up carefully until your back is straight again.
  7. Do 4 sets of 10 reps with 1-minute breaks in between.

Frog Bridge

Frog Bridge

In addition to strengthening your hamstrings, this exercise will also allow you to work your glutes without much effort. You can do it at home or with your trainer.

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Bend your knees and lower them to the sides, so that the soles of your feet touch. This position gives this exercise the name frog bridge.
  3. Place a weight of less than 5 kg on your abdomen.
  4. Gently lift your hips up. You can move the weight up if you feel ready.
  5. Do 10 repetitions of the exercise and rest for about 30 seconds. Repeat for about 4 sessions.

Supine Hip Raise

Supine Hip Raise

If you have suffered from a minor hamstring injury, you can practice the supine hip raise to gently strengthen your leg muscles, while also increasing hip flexibility.

    1. Lie on your back, in an inverted quadruped position, resting your hands and feet on the surface
    2. Push through your heels to raise your hips until your shoulders, hips, and knees are fully aligned.
    3. Stay in that position for about 10 seconds and lower your buttocks very gently.
    4. To increase the intensity, rest your elbows on the ground, raise your hips with one leg raised, and push up with the help of the heel that rested on the ground. The raised leg should be completely straight.
    5. Repeat any of these exercises for 4 sessions of 10 repetitions each with 30-second rest intervals.

Ask Doctor Jo Do Hamstring Strain Stretches & Exercises

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