The hamstrings are an important group of muscles located along the back of your thigh. Keeping your hamstrings flexible and strong is key for lowering your risk of injuries and improving performance in athletic activities. The good news is there are many effective hamstring exercises you can do in the convenience of your own home, without expensive equipment.
Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises
Bodyweight exercises that use your own weight as resistance are great hamstring exercises you can do easily at home. They require no special equipment and many can be modified to increase or decrease difficulty.
Glute Ham Raise
The glute ham raise targets the hamstrings intensely by having you lower your body from a horizontal position to the floor. Can be done with furniture or a partner assisting.
Standing on one leg with a slight bend in the knee, hinge forward at the hips while keeping your raised leg and torso straight. This challenges balance and hamstring strength simultaneously.
Lying on your back with knees bent, raise your hips off the floor to create a straight line from shoulders to knees. Squeeze hamstrings at the top.
Hamstring Curls on Swiss Ball
Place your lower shins and ankles on top of a Swiss ball. Dig heels into the ball and bridge your hips up, pulling the ball towards you by contracting your hamstrings.
Band Hamstring Exercises
Resistance bands are inexpensive, portable, and great for doing hamstring exercises at home. The elastic bands come in levels of light to heavy resistance.
Banded Single Leg Deadlift
Stand on one leg placed inside a resistance band looped around your foot. Hinge forward from hips, stretching band taut while keeping a flat back.
Lying Hamstring Curls
Lie face up with band securely looped under one foot. Bring heels to glutes, bending knees to contract hamstrings while lifting hips slightly off floor.
Side Lying Hip Abduction
Tie band around ankles and lie on your side. Raise top leg against tension of the band, keeping leg straight. This primarily works the outer hamstrings.
Banded Hip Thrusters
Sit on floor with band around just below knees, feet planted. Bridge your hips up, pulling knees outward against tension of the band while contracting glutes and hamstrings.
Everyday Hamstring Stretches
Consistency with hamstring stretching is crucial for flexibility gains. Here are effective stretches you can do daily at home:
Standing Forward Fold
Hinge straight at the hips to fold your torso towards the ground. Reach for toes while pressing chest to thighs and breathe deeply.
Seated Forward Fold / Pike
Sit up tall then gently round your back, reaching hands towards toes in a seated pike position. Keep back flat if low flexibility. Breathe and hold mild stretch.
Single Leg Hamstring Stretch
Lie face up, looping strap/belt around forefoot of one raised leg. Gently pull leg towards head until stretch felt behind knee.
Prevent Injury, Build Strength
Performing hamstring exercises at home on a regular basis keeps this vulnerable muscle group flexible and strong, helping you pursue physical activity safely. Start slowly and focus on good form. Most importantly, listen your body and don’t push past your limits.