Top Ten Best Exercises for Your Hamstrings

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When people think of working their legs they usually think of their quadriceps. Those muscles only make up half of your upper leg and unfortunately, working them alone can lead to instability and injury. Working the hamstrings (the group of muscles on the back of the thigh running from your buttocks to your knee) can do wonders for both your athletic performance as well as the aesthetics of your legs.

The primary purposes of the hamstrings are to bend your knee and raise your leg behind you. While running, the quads are what push you forward but the hamstrings are what picks your leg up and puts it ahead of you so you can take another step. If you've ever felt like you were running faster than your legs would carry you then your hamstrings are probably too weak.

Doing these exercises are the best way to strengthen your hamstrings and reduce the chances of injury to your lower body.

The Top Ten

1 Hamstring Ball Curls

Use a yoga ball or something about as tall as your things and lay on your back with your feet on the object. Bend your knees so your heels are touching your butt and your hips are raised off the floor. Keeping your body straight, extend your legs out and push the object away till just your heels are touching it then bend your knees and bring the object back to your butt.

2 Floor Glute-Ham Raise

You'll need a partner or something to put your feet under for this one. get on your knees and have someone hold your ankles or place your feet under an object that doesn't move. Slowly lower your body (in a straight line from your knees to your head) forward till you are at a 45 degree angle to the floor then reverse back up to a vertical position.

3 Romanian Deadlift

Standing straight up while holding a barbell (or dumbbells) with straight arms, lower the bar to your shins and raise back up. You will be keeping your legs straight but not locked and hinging at the waist. To protect your back make sure to stick your butt out behind you as you lower.

4 One-Legged Deadlift

Similar to a pistol squat except you keep your raised leg behind U. Stand straight up on one foot and lower down till you can touch the ground in front of you. As you lower be sure to raise the other leg out behind U. Stand back to vertical and switch legs.

5 Lunge Pass Through

Stand holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand. Lunge forward with one foot so your front knee is bent at a 90 degree angle and your back knee almost touches the ground. Pass the weight in front of your body and under the front leg. Grab the weight with your other hand and stand back up. Switch legs and pass the weight back under your leg to the original hand.

6 Seated Hamstring Curl

You'll need some equipment or to jimmy-rig something with what you have. The point is to begin sitting on a chair with your leg (s) straight out in front of you with weight/support around your ankles keeping them straight. Use your hamstrings to bend your knee (s) in opposition to the weight then slowly straighten and repeat.

7 Split Squats

Basically you do a lunge but then jump, switch front and back leg positions in mid-air, then land in a lunge with the other leg forward. Jump back and switch legs again and repeat. More tiring than it sounds.

8 Good Mornings

This is similar to a Romanian Deadlift except you'll use much less weight and you'll put the bar behind your shoulders. Still be sure to stick your butt out to protect your lower back as you hinge forward at the waist. Get your body to a roughly 90 degree angle (parallel to the floor) then bring it back up to vertical.

9 Knee Tuck Jump

Stand straight up and jump as high as you can. While jumping bring both legs up so your knees are bent and as high as possible. Straighten them back out for a regular landing and repeat quickly.

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10 Glute Raises

While people think this only targets the glute, it also hits the hamstring by raising the leg behind you. Get on your hands and knees and straighten one leg. Raise that leg out behind you so it is parallel with the floor and straight, then ower slowly and switch legs.

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