The hamstrings are often neglected in training programmes - sacrificed for quad and booty gains.
However, in order to ensure muscular balance, it's vital to incorporate exercises that work your hamstrings into your workout.
Particularly, if you’re sat down for most of the day as over time this will actually shorten your hamstrings!
Here are 5 exercises that will help you to build some serious hamstrings (you might be doing some without even knowing!).
Romanian deadlifts (or stiff leg deadlifts) are great for working your hamstrings. Unlike regular deadlifts which put a lot of the workload onto the lower back, Romanian deadlifts place the majority of the workload onto your hamstrings.
Start with your feet hip-width apart and the barbell at thigh level. Keeping a neutral spine, bend at your waist, tilting your hips backwards and pushing your glutes back.
Sit into your heels and, while keeping the bar close to your shins, lower as far as your flexibility will allow – just make sure you’re not straining your lower back. Once you are as low as your hamstrings will allow, use your hips to drive the weight back upwards to your upper thigh.
If you’re looking for more of a challenge, start stood on a platform which will allow for the weight to travel lower, therefore meaning you’re getting a greater stretch in your hamstrings.
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Bulgarian Split Squats
These bad boys are great for building leg muscles, including those hamstrings.
Grab yourself a bench and, holding a dumbbell in each hand, rest your back foot onto it. Some people go narrower, some wider – just make sure that your front foot is placed firmly on the floor at a position that is comfortable to you.
Once stable, lower your hips towards to ground, keeping the majority of your weight through the foot that is planted on the ground.
Once you have lowered down, push off of the ground with your front foot. Do this for 8-12 reps and then repeat on the other leg.
Lying Leg Curls
Don’t be fooled – just because you’re lying down does not make this move easy.
If you’re looking to specifically target the hamstrings alone, then this is the exercise for you.
Most gyms will have a specific machine designed for this exercise (if not, you might find a seated leg curl that will serve you just as well!).
If you’re doing lying leg curls, make sure you can rest your stomach. Set the weight to one that challenges you but does not require you having to pull from your lower back – your hamstrings should be taking the load. Keep the movement slow and controlled and don’t fully lock out.
Kettlebell swings are an excellent movement for developing strength, building power, and growing those hamstrings!
Start with your feet shoulder width apart, your chest up and the kettlebell in front of you. Squat down, keeping a neutral spine and grip the kettlebell handle with both hands.
Stand tall and shift your weight into your heels and push your bum backwards. Driving through heels, power your hips forward and send the weight swinging upwards.
Keep the movement controlled and make sure you’re driving from your lower body and not pulling from your upper body.
Not just for your quads. Back squats are infamous for being one of the best compound exercises for building strong, muscular legs.
If you want to work your hamstrings, shallow squats won’t do – the deeper your squat, the more your hamstrings are recruited.
Carefully unrack the bar and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your core and squat down, pushing your hips backwards whilst keeping a neutral spine. Your hamstrings really begin to engage when you break parallel, meaning when your hips are lower than your knees.
Drive back up and squeeze your glutes at the top – might as well build that booty at the same time, right?
Which is your favourite hamstring exercise?
Let us know in the comments below.