FOUR WAYS TO TRAIN YOUR HAMSTRINGS AT HOME

Squats, Lunges, stairclimbing, running, and bicycling are great options to build and maintain strength in your lower body when you don’t have access to equipment.

The only drawback is that all these activities are primarily geared toward the quadriceps and, to a lesser extent, the glutes. Hamstrings go largely unutilized.

Biomechanically, the quadriceps flex the hip and extend the knee, while the hamstrings do the exact opposite–extending the hip and flexing the knee. They’re a dynamic system of opposing forces that keep your knee and hip in equilibrium.

The problem is that most exercise programs treat the quadriceps and hamstring as though they evolved to need different things to survive. The thinking appears to be that quadriceps need a lot of repetition, pavement-pounding, and burning-sensations to thrive, while the hamstrings are adapted primarily for passive stretching and toe-touches.

This, of course, is not the case. Your hamstrings require just as much strength and endurance as your quadriceps to function optimally—perhaps even more.

When the hamstrings are overlooked in training, it can create a strength imbalance between the front and back of the leg. This alters normal lower body movements, decreases force generating potential, and increases the risk for injury.

To compound the problem, many home-based, low-weight activities make it difficult to apply enough stress to the hamstrings to make them stronger.

Here are four hamstring exercises you can use to hit the reset button on your lower body training. Each exercise targets slightly different parts of the hamstrings and can be done at home with minimal equipment.

Chair Bridge with March 
  • Lay on the ground in front of a chair with your legs bent at ninety-degrees and your heels in contact with the chair or ottoman.
  • Reach both arms towards the ceiling, pulling the backs of your shoulders off ground.
  • Press down through your heels, lifting your hips up. Try to pull the back pockets of your pants to the back of your knees with your hamstrings.
  • Without losing position, lift one leg off the chair, moving it toward your face while the other leg stays in place.
  • Repeat with the other leg, and then back again.
Stability Ball Curl
  • Lay on the ground with your lower legs resting on top of a stability ball.
  • Press your feet and lower legs into the ball to raise your hips off the floor.
  • Flex your knee, pulling the ball toward you as you continue to raise your hips higher.
  • At the top of the exercise your knee, hip, and shoulders should all be in a straight line.
  • Lower your hips and return to the starting position.
  • Progress the exercise by taking one foot off the ball as you bring your hips back down.
Backpack Hamstring Curl
  • Fill a backpack with weights, water bottles, rocks, or whatever you have.
  • Loop the straps around your ankles, tightening them so they don’t slide around.
  • Lie face down on a bench or bed with a pillow or rolled-up towel on your stomach to keep your back from arching.
  • Bend your knees, curling the weight toward your butt.
  • Repeat.
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
  • Use the weighted backpack for resistance again.
  • Holding the weight in front of you, tip your upper body forward while extending one leg behind you.
  • Stop when the weight gets to mid-shin (approximately) or when you feel a stretch in the back of the leg.
  • Press your heel into the ground, contracting your hamstring, and return back to an upright position.

FOUR WAYS TO TRAIN YOUR HAMSTRINGS AT HOME

Squats, Lunges, stairclimbing, running, and bicycling are great options to build and maintain strength in your lower body when you don’t have access to equipment.

The only drawback is that all these activities are primarily geared toward the quadriceps and, to a lesser extent, the glutes. Hamstrings go largely unutilized.

Biomechanically, the quadriceps flex the hip and extend the knee, while the hamstrings do the exact opposite–extending the hip and flexing the knee. They’re a dynamic system of opposing forces that keep your knee and hip in equilibrium.

The problem is that most exercise programs treat the quadriceps and hamstring as though they evolved to need different things to survive. The thinking appears to be that quadriceps need a lot of repetition, pavement-pounding, and burning-sensations to thrive, while the hamstrings are adapted primarily for passive stretching and toe-touches.

This, of course, is not the case. Your hamstrings require just as much strength and endurance as your quadriceps to function optimally—perhaps even more.

When the hamstrings are overlooked in training, it can create a strength imbalance between the front and back of the leg. This alters normal lower body movements, decreases force generating potential, and increases the risk for injury.

To compound the problem, many home-based, low-weight activities make it difficult to apply enough stress to the hamstrings to make them stronger.

Here are four hamstring exercises you can use to hit the reset button on your lower body training. Each exercise targets slightly different parts of the hamstrings and can be done at home with minimal equipment.

Chair Bridge with March 
  • Lay on the ground in front of a chair with your legs bent at ninety-degrees and your heels in contact with the chair or ottoman.
  • Reach both arms towards the ceiling, pulling the backs of your shoulders off ground.
  • Press down through your heels, lifting your hips up. Try to pull the back pockets of your pants to the back of your knees with your hamstrings.
  • Without losing position, lift one leg off the chair, moving it toward your face while the other leg stays in place.
  • Repeat with the other leg, and then back again.
Stability Ball Curl
  • Lay on the ground with your lower legs resting on top of a stability ball.
  • Press your feet and lower legs into the ball to raise your hips off the floor.
  • Flex your knee, pulling the ball toward you as you continue to raise your hips higher.
  • At the top of the exercise your knee, hip, and shoulders should all be in a straight line.
  • Lower your hips and return to the starting position.
  • Progress the exercise by taking one foot off the ball as you bring your hips back down.
Backpack Hamstring Curl
  • Fill a backpack with weights, water bottles, rocks, or whatever you have.
  • Loop the straps around your ankles, tightening them so they don’t slide around.
  • Lie face down on a bench or bed with a pillow or rolled-up towel on your stomach to keep your back from arching.
  • Bend your knees, curling the weight toward your butt.
  • Repeat.
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
  • Use the weighted backpack for resistance again.
  • Holding the weight in front of you, tip your upper body forward while extending one leg behind you.
  • Stop when the weight gets to mid-shin (approximately) or when you feel a stretch in the back of the leg.
  • Press your heel into the ground, contracting your hamstring, and return back to an upright position.