A Brief Guide to Hamstring Exercises

When you think of exercises, what do you typically think about? Working out your arms, chest, and back muscles? Those are important muscle groups to work on. But did you know that there are also some great hamstring exercises out there? In this post, we will go over a few reasons why hamstring exercises can be beneficial for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Hamstring stretches are great for people who spend long hours sitting down or running around all day long! Stretching can help loosen tight muscles so that you can keep them healthy when working out those other muscle groups. The most important thing to remember about stretching is not to overdo it- especially if you have been inactive for some time.

Best Hamstring Exercises

Best Hamstring Exercises

Sumo Squats

If you’re looking to work on your adductor muscles and hamstrings, then consider adding the sumo squat to your arsenal. This is a very simple exercise that requires minimal equipment, so it’s perfect for people with limited strength and mobility. To perform this hamstring stretch correctly:

  1. Stand feet slightly wider than hip-width. Point your toes about 45-degrees outward. Your hips will be rotating outward. 
  2. Place your arms out in front of you (shoulder height). 
  3. Inhale, squeeze your core and push your hips back, dropping into a squat position. 
  4. Pause at the bottom, exhale, and thrust back into the original post. 
  5. Do 10 to 12 reps.

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings boost endurance, burn calories, and target multiple muscle groups. They’re also a great exercise when you need to jump-start your metabolism. To perform the kettlebell swing correctly:

  1. stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hinge at hips while reaching arms straight out in front of your body. 
  2. Swing one kettlebell between legs as far back as possible then thrust hips forward explosively, swinging weight to chest level before dropping it down below shoulders again and repeating for desired reps. Perform the movement by squeezing your glutes and hamstrings to completely extend your hips as you reverse the hip hinge.
  3. Do 15 to 20 or perform for 45 seconds

Single-Leg Deadlift

The single-leg deadlift works the hamstring muscle of the standing leg. For optimal results, perform with a light kettlebell or dumbbell to maintain good form but heavy enough to feel the muscles working.

  1. Stand on your right leg, slightly bending your knee. With a kettlebell in your right hand, lift your left foot off the floor. 
  2. Lean your body forward and shift the weight toward the ground, keeping your chest upward. Go as far down as you can until you start feeling the tension in your right hamstring. 
  3. Return to the starting position, squeezing your glutes.
  4. Do 8 to 10 reps on each leg. 

Basic Bridge

The basic bridge move strengthens the hamstrings and glute muscles. Since it is a beginner-friendly exercise, it is suitable for most fitness levels. 

  1. Set an exercise mat on the ground. Knees bent, feet flat on the floor about a foot away from your butt, lie on your back. Arms should be at your sides.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles and glutes, push your heels into the ground, lifting your hips off the floor until your body reaches a straight line from knees to shoulders. Really squeezing those hamstrings. 
  3. Pause in the elevated position for 10 to 20 seconds
  4. Lower to the original position
  5. Do 10 reps. 

Reverse Plank

The reverse plank is an intermediate-level exercise that focuses on the core, glutes, hamstrings, and upper body. Add the reverse plank to your core workout for a total upper body finisher. 

  1. Sit down with your legs in front of you. 
  2.  Palms down and fingers spread wide, place your hands behind you. Your hands should be outside of your hips and in line with your shoulders. 
  3. Push into your hands to lift your hips and upper body upward. Your body should be in a straight line from your heels to your head. Look up. 
  4. Engage your core, glutes, and hamstrings and hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds. 
  5. Lower to the original position. 
  6. Do 5 to 10 reps. 

Traditional Squat

When it comes to the best exercise for hamstring development, you can’t beat squats.  Squats work the entire lower body and core, so you can use them to get a full-body workout in.

  1. Stand with feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Squeeze your core and gently bend your legs and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, raising your arms in front as you lower yourself. 
  3. Keep your head straight ahead. 
  4. Hold the bottom position for a few seconds, exhale, push through your heels, and return to the original position. 
  5. Do 12 to 15 reps.

Lying Leg Curl

The lying leg curl is an exercise that targets your hamstrings. To get the most out of this move, you’ll need access to a leg curl machine. Most gyms have them. Some gyms also have standing or seated leg curl machines. 

  1. Set the roller pad, so it rests above your heels. 
  2. Lie down on your stomach, making sure the roller pad rests on top of your lower calves. Make sure your legs are fully extended. Hold the handles on either side of the machine.
  3. Raise your feet while keeping your hips fixed on the bench, flex your knees, pulling your ankles towards your glutes.
  4. Pause for a few seconds, then gently lower your leg to the original position. 
  5. Do 12 to 15 repetitions. 


To get the most out of your workouts, adding in some hamstring exercises is an excellent way to stay in shape and keep your routine balanced and fun. Want more killer workouts?

Affiliate Disclaimer

Please understand that in some cases we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.