Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises: Essential Hamstring Exercises You Can Do At Home

Leg day is always going to be challenging. If you’re doing it correctly, every time you train your lower body, you’ll be working multiple muscle groups, including your hamstrings. Targeting your hamstrings especially will perform miracles if you’re looking to build strength and be more resilient against hamstring strains and tears.

Here are eight of the best hamstring exercises you can do without a machine or free weights. These will challenge those “leg biceps” and help you develop a stronger posterior chain using only bodyweight. 

Best Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises

1# – Banded Hamstring Curls

  1. Wrap the band tightly around a sturdy object.
  2. Lie on your front on a bench with one end of the resistance band wrapped around your ankles. 
  3. Curl your heels by contracting your hamstrings. Hold at the end range position for a few seconds.
  4. Slowly extend your legs and return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat this between 10-20 reps for 4 sets. 
  6. Increase the size of the resistance band to increase the difficulty. 

#2 – Bodyweight Elevated Hamstring Curls

  1. Lie on your back with your heels on an elevated surface such as a bench. Your knees are stacked on top of your hips and your palms are pressed into the ground by your sides.
  2. Drive your heels into the ground to elevate your hips up until your body is in a straight line from head to knees. Squeeze your core and hold the top position for a few seconds.
  3. Slowly lower down and return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat this between 10-20 reps for 4 sets.

#3 – Nordic Curls

This is one of the best bodyweight hamstring exercises out there. A 2017 study suggests that Nordic hamstring curls decrease the risks of hamstring injuries by increasing eccentric hamstring strength. 

  1. Begin in a tall kneeling position with your hips extended and feet secured. Ensure that you have some kind of padding to kneel on to increase comfort on your knees.
  2. Secure your ankles by fitting them under a sturdy object such as a rig or have someone hold them down.
  3. Slowly fall forward. As you do this, contract your hamstrings to fight against gravity and maintain the hip extension.
  4. Place your palms on the floor as you reach the ground and get a full knee extension. 
  5. Push up back up to the starting position or use your hamstrings to do so.
  6. Repeat this between 5-10 reps for 4 sets.

#5 – Leaning RDL

  1. Start in a tall standing position with your feet hip-width apart and arms down by your sides.
  2. Lower down into a squat by bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Keep your core tight 
  3. Flex your legs straight by hinging your hips back and reaching your hands down to touch your toes. Keep your back straight.
  4. Return to the squatting position.
  5. Repeat this between 10-20 reps for 4 sets.

#6 – Elevated Single Leg Glute Bridge 

  1. Lie on your back with your heels on an elevated surface such as a bench or a chair, and arms resting by your sides. Your knees are stacked on top of your hips. 
  2. Extend your right leg straight.
  3. Drive through your left heel to lift your hips until your body is in a straight line. Brace your core. Hold at the top position for a few seconds. 
  4. Lower down to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat this between 8-12 reps on each leg for 4 sets. Work on both legs in a single set.

#7 – Single-Leg RDL

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your sides. Lift your left foot off the ground slightly.
  2. Sit your hips back as if you are being pulled from a string attached to your waist. Allow your right knee to bend slightly. Keep your left leg straight and in line with your body throughout the movement. 
  3. Continue to bend at the waist until your right-hand touches the ground while keeping your back flat.
  4. Drive through your heel and push your hips forward and return to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat this between 8-10 reps for 4 sets. Work on both legs in a single set.

#8 – Good Mornings

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms by your sides, and knees slightly bent. Wrap a resistance band around your neck and shoulders with your feet standing on the other end of the band.
  2. Brace your core and exhale as you hinge at the hips, pushing your hips backward and upperbody forward. Stop until your torso is parallel to the ground. 
  3. Inhale as you return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat this between 10-12 reps for 4 sets.

#9 – Quadruped Leg Curl

  1. Begin on all fours with your shoulders stacked on top of your wrists and your hips stacked on top of your knees. Brace your core and keep your back straight. 
  2. Extend your right leg so that it’s in line with your body. 
  3. Curl your right leg by contracting your hamstrings and pulling your right heel towards your glutes. Hold at the end position for a few seconds. 
  4. Slowly extend your leg back.
  5. Repeat this between 10-12 reps for 4 sets. Work on both legs in a single set.

#10 – Single Leg Box Squat 

  1. Place a chair or a plyometric box behind you. The height of the elevated surface should be around knee height. 
  2. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and your right leg slightly off the ground. Straighten your arms in front of your body and engage your core. 
  3. Slowly lower by bending your hip, knee, and ankle on your left leg. Lower until your glutes touch the elevated surface.
  4. Drive through your left foot to extend your legs and return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat this between 10-12 reps for 4 sets. Work on both legs in a single set.

3 Benefits of Training Hamstrings

  1. Injury Prevention 

Your hamstrings are one of the most injury-prone muscles in your body. The hamstring plays a key role in stabilizing your knee joint, along with maintaining hip and torso positioning. Without adequate hamstring development, which often comes from over-developed quadriceps, the chances of injury to the knee joint and hamstring increase. 

  1. Improve Functional Strength 

Training your hamstrings will have positive effects on your functional motions such as walking, running, and sprinting. Due to the role of hip and knee flexion, your hamstrings are one of the muscles responsible for your ability to run fast. The stronger your hamstrings are, the quicker you can stop and change directions. 

Empirical research has found that hip extensor muscles (hamstrings and glutes) are the main contributors to sprinting force. The hamstrings especially play a major role in horizontal force production during sprinting. 

  1. Better Posture and Alignment

Strong hamstrings stabilize your hips and keep your spine correctly aligned. When the hamstrings are tight, it causes your pelvic area to tilt forward. Otherwise known as posterior pelvic tilt. This will put excessive strain on your lower back muscles. Strong and flexible hamstrings keep your knees and surrounding encircling tissue in alignment. 

The Takeaways: Ten Best Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises

More often than not, your hamstrings are likely to be weak and often neglected. Especially with our modern habit of prolonged sitting, which weakens the hamstrings and makes them stiff. Luckily, you can practice these ten best bodyweight hamstring exercises at home without having to use any weights.

Regardless of whatever you do on a day-to-day basis, taking the time to work on your hamstrings provides some serious benefits to your body. A few of the main benefits include improved athletic performance, posture, and alignment, and reduces risk of hamstring-related injuries. 

If you’ve found this article useful, I suggest you read my previously written articles to broaden your knowledge: 

If you’d like to be personally coached by me and have all the guesswork thought of and planned for you in a step-by-step program, you can subscribe to one of our training programs and get 1-to-1 support from an expert coach. 

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