How To Work Your Hamstrings At Home (12 Must-Try Exercises)

 


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Want to work your hamstrings at home but don’t know how? 

Fortunately, you can build, strengthen and grow your hammies right in the comfort of your own home. We’ve made a list of hamstring exercises that don’t need the gym to be done and will still let you feel that burn and see results. And don’t worry, we’ve included both equipment and no-equipment options too so there’s something for everyone.

So how can you work your hamstring at home?  

Hamstrings are just like any other muscle that needs to be trained and worked in order to grow. With the right exercises (both with and without equipment), you can target the back of the legs so that you can improve your functional fitness, prevent injuries and have balanced and stronger legs overall.

The Benefits Of Working Your Hamstrings

 


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Hamstrings are the large group of three muscles located at the back of the thighs. 

They are what helps you bend your leg at the knee and are used daily for walking and running as well as going up and down the stairs. However, it’s a great idea to add exercises that target the hamstrings into your fitness routine to further add better functionality as well as to strengthen and grow them. 

Related: Burn 500 Calories Working Out At Home

How To Warm Up The Hamstrings (Before Working Out)

Like every muscle group, it’s important to ensure that you adequately warm the hamstring muscle before engaging in any physical activity. 

Unfortunately, hamstrings are quite susceptible to injury and it isn’t uncommon to see people suffering from a torn or pulled hamstring. 

Here are a couple of hamstring stretches that’ll help you warm up before you start exercising:

1. SIMPLE HAMSTRING STRETCH

    1. Sit down with your legs extended out

    2. Bend forward at the waist, keeping your knees locked out. Extend your arms and reach forward. You should feel a gentle pull at the back of your legs.

    3. Hold this position for 30 sec to one minute

    4. Then return back to the starting position and repeat 2-3 times.

2. ONE LEG HAMSTRING STRETCH

    1. Sit down with your left leg extended out straight before you. Your right leg should be bent so the sole of your feet is aligned with your left thigh.

    2. Bend forward at the waist towards your left foot, reaching out with your arms, feeling a gentle pull in your hamstrings on your left leg.

    3. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. Then return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

3. STANDING HAMSTRING STRETCH

    1. Stand your right leg crossed over the left.

    2. Bend slowly at the waist, reaching down towards the floor. Make sure your knees are locked out and your legs are straight.

    3. Hold this stretch for 30-60 seconds before returning to the starting position.

    4. Repeat, this time crossing the left foot over the right.

It’s important to note that with these stretches, at most you should feel a gentle pull. You shouldn’t keep pushing it until you feel pain otherwise you may pull the muscle and have the opposite effect. 

If this means you can’t reach your toes or the floor, that’s fine! 

Just go as far as you need to go to feel a stretch. Over time, you’ll find that your flexibility will increase and you’ll be able to bend further.

Hamstring Exercises 

So now it’s time to work those hamstrings. 

The FitBod app can help you train your hamstrings by designing at-home workouts for you. Or, keep reading to see our compilation of a list of exercises that will work your hammies. 

We’ll show you moves that can only be completed using only your bodyweight but also give you options to add in equipment when available.

1.  GLUTE BRIDGE

 


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Can be performed without equipment: Yes

Equipment option: Weighted plates OR dumbbell OR kettlebell

  • Begin by lying down on your back. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground.

  • Engage your core and glutes. Use this to push your glutes up so that your shoulders to your knees make a straight line.

  • Pull your navel back towards your spine, making sure your abdominal muscles are on. Squeeze your glutes.

  • Then slowly lower yourself back to the ground.

The glute bridge will work your glutes as well as strengthen your hamstrings. While doing this exercise, don’t let arch your back too much so that you’re hyperextending by lifting your hips too high. Also, don’t let your hips drop so that you’re sagging. Find that sweet spot in the middle ground that gives you that straight line between your shoulders and knees while engaging your core.

For the equipment options, take your plate, dumbbell or kettlebell and hold them on your hips so you’re adding extra weight to push up against.

2.  SINGLE-LEG GLUTE BRIDGE

 


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Can be performed without equipment: Yes

Equipment option: Weighted plates OR dumbbell OR kettlebell

The single-leg glute bridge is the same exercise but using only one leg at a time. This will further challenge you as well as focus the attention on each side which is really great if you find that one side is sufficiently stronger than the other, or if you find it difficult to activate both sides equally.

  • To do the single-leg glute bridge, begin in the same starting position as in the glute bridge we talked about above.

  • This time though, extend your left leg so that it’s straight up in the air with your right foot still on the ground. An alternative to this is crossing your left leg over so that your foot is resting on your working knee.

  • Now anchor your right foot, engage your abdominal muscles and glutes and lift your hips to create the straight line between your shoulders and knees. You should feel it in your right hamstring.

  • Return to the starting position.

  • Complete all your reps on the right side before switching to the left.

Similar to the bilateral glute bridge, for the equipment options, hold your plate, dumbbell or kettlebell at your hips for extra weight.

3.  HAMSTRING WALKOUT

 


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Can be performed without equipment: Yes

Equipment option: Small weighted plates 

  • Begin in the same starting position as in the glute bridge.

  • Lift your hips up as if you were performing the glute bridge.

  • Now, start taking small steps with your feet until your legs are straight. While you’re doing this, ensure that your core and glutes are still engaged and your hips are up. Keep the weight in your heels and if you need help with this, lift your toes off the ground.

  • Once your legs are completely extended, start walking your feet back up to starting position.

  • Then, repeat.

The hamstring walkout is a great way to activate those hamstrings and get them working. It has a longer TUT (time under tension) than some other movements might have because you’ll need to take 5-8 steps just to extend your legs before coming back up again, all while keeping your core and glutes engaged as well.

If you have the equipment to do so, place your small plates on your hips to provide extra weight as you walk out. Make sure that you’re still able to maintain engagement with your hips while doing this with the added weight though.

4. HAMSTRING SLIDERS

 


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Can be performed without equipment: No

Equipment option: Sliders

Alternatives: If you don’t have sliders then what equipment you can use will depend on the flooring you have. For wooden floorboards, a towel can replace the sliders. If you have carpet, then a plastic bag will suffice.

  • Begin as you would with the glute bridge, with your knees bent. Your feet should be on the ground and for this exercise, place your sliders (or towel or plastic bag) under your heels.

  • Engage your core and glutes and lift your hips off the ground, making sure you’re in a straight line. 

  • Now, extend your legs so that they are straight, sliding your heels away from you. Once you’ve extended as much as you can, engage those glutes and hamstrings and return to the starting position, curling the sliders back toward you.

  • Repeat.

The key is to keep your feet moving equally at the same time and making sure your core, hamstrings and glutes are completely engaged. 

If you would like to add weights to this exercise, then put your small weighted plates on top of the sliders. YOu should only use small plates in diameter though as you still need to move with the sliders underneath them.

5. FLOOR GHR 

 


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Can be performed without equipment: Yes (but you’ll need a partner)

Equipment option: Weighted plate

For the floor GHR (glute ham raises), you’ll need a partner to hold your ankles for you. 

  • Kneel on the ground but sit upright so that your torso to knees is in a straight line and your legs are behind you.

  • Your partner is going to hold your ankles down, acting as a weight.

  • Then, slowly lower your torso as close to the ground as possible in a controlled movement. Engage your glutes and hammies to do this and keep your back straight.

  • Once you are as close to the ground as you can go while keeping your form, return to starting position. If you need help getting there, use your hands to push off the ground in a smooth motion.

  • Repeat.

Remember, you need to bend and straighten at the knees only, not your hips, and embrace your core to prevent from hyperextending your back and overarching it. 

If you want to add weight to it, then you can hold a plate to your chest as you perform the exercise. A dumbbell or kettlebell can be used but a plate may be more comfortable.

6. ROMANIAN DEADLIFT

 


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Can be performed without equipment: No

Equipment option: Barbell OR dumbbells OR kettlebells

The Romanian deadlift (RDL) works your hamstring and glutes more than the conventional deadlift, so if you’re looking to target your hammies, this is a great variation to add to your routine.

You can perform these with a barbell, dumbbells or even kettlebells so pick up whatever equipment you have and let’s get started.

  1. As opposed to the conventional deadlift which begins with the weight on the floor, RDL starts with you standing up, holding the weight in front of you with your arms straight using an overhand grip. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. 

  2. Keeping your knees slightly bent, engage your upper back, core and glutes and slowly lower the weight to the ground while pushing your hips back.

  3. Anchor the feet in the ground and press the hips forward to return to starting position. 

7. SINGLE-LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFT

 


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Can be performed without equipment: Yes

Equipment option: Barbell OR dumbbells OR kettlebells

This unilateral lower body exercise will help us target each side individually and is a great variation if you have any muscle or strength imbalances. It’s similar to the RDL but using, you guessed it, one leg at a time.

  • Begin standing up, holding the weight in front of you with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your knees should be slightly bent.

  • Raise one foot slightly off the ground. Whichever foot remains on the ground is the side you’ll be working first. To keep your balance, contract your core and glutes as well as your standing leg.

  • Bend at your hips, lowering your torso. Keep your back straight, holding the weight close to your legs. Your raised foot should extend out behind you.

  • Push your hips forward to return to your starting position.

  • Repeat.

It’s a good idea to perform the single-leg RDLs using only your bodyweight first before progressing to weighted ones. To do this, aim to reach down to the ground with your hand before coming back up but be careful not to lean your weight on your arms when you get there.

8. GOOD MORNINGS

 


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Can be performed without equipment: Yes

Equipment option: Resistance band

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. If you’re using a resistance band, stand on one end of the resistance band with the other looped around your neck. 

  2. Keep your torso straight and your knees slightly bent. Bend at the hips making sure that your back is straight.

  3. Keep hinging until your upper body is parallel to the floor and you feel a stretch at the back of your thighs.

  4. Press your hips forward and straighten up again to the starting position.

The resistance band should provide some force in this hinge movement. Though, if you don’t have a band, then it can be done with your body weight. 

9. STANDING BANDED KICKBACKS

 


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Can be performed without equipment: Yes

Equipment option: Resistance band

  1. Stand on your left leg so that your right foot is raised. Loop the resistance band around the right foot while holding the other end in front of you. When your right leg is bent, the band has slack in it.

  2. Lean forward slightly from the hips.

  3. In a controlled movement, kick your right leg back until it straightens. The band should provide resistance against this. If there isn’t enough resistance, then hold the resistance band further down in your hands to make it tighter and shorter.

  4. Then, bend your right knee again and bring it back to the starting position.

  5. Once you finish your reps, switch to the other leg.

This is a great exercise that not only works your hammies but also your core, glutes and balance. If it’s too hard to balance on one leg at the moment, then hold a chair in front of you until you can do it without support.

Final Thoughts

These hamstring exercises are a great way to work your hammies. With options covering different types of equipment and bodyweight variations, there’s sure to be something that you’ll be able to add to your workout routine in the comfort of your own home.


About The Author

 


Emily Trinh

Emily Trinh

 

As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.