9 Best Hamstring Exercises At Home That Can Help Build Stronger Legs

Including these hamstring exercises at home in your training regimen can help develop strength and stability in your legs

stability ball hamstring curls image-2

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Hamstring exercises at home allow you to target and work your hamstrings without paying for an expensive gym membership.

Best hamstring exercises at home for building and strengthening your leg muscles

stability ball hamstring curls - hamstring exercises at home

Incorporating hamstring exercises at home into your training routine can help target the muscles at the back of your thighs, allowing you to enhance lower body strength, stability, and functional movement.

Many hamstring exercises at home may also engage other muscles, such as the glutes, quadriceps, and lower back muscles, to varying degrees, allowing you to build and strengthen them.

Related: 10 Best Hamstring Exercises That Can Help Build Strong And Powerful Legs

Below are the best hamstring exercises at home that can help target and work your hamstrings.

Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

dumbbell Romanian deadlift - best hamstring exercises at home

The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is one of the best hamstring exercises at home for targeting and strengthening the hamstrings.

Many regard the Romanian Deadlift as one of the most effective exercises for hamstring development.

The RDL works the hamstrings and other muscles, including the glutes, lower back, and hips.

The hamstrings are responsible for the hip extension movement when performing the RDL. They also help to control the lowering phase of the exercise.

Romanian Deadlift (RDL) involves holding a pair of dumbbells or a barbell, standing with feet at shoulder-width and knees slightly bent. You then hinge at the hips while keeping your back straight.
Next, you lower the weights towards the ground, feeling a stretch in your hamstrings, and then return to your starting position.

For best results, focus on feeling the stretch and contraction in your hamstrings throughout the exercise.

The Romanian Deadlift is one of the best at-home hamstring exercises for strengthening and developing the hamstrings, improving hip mobility, and boosting lower body strength.

Steps to follow for the Romanian Deadlift (RDL) hamstring exercises at home

Nordic Hamstring Curl

nordic curls - best leg curl alternative exercises

The Nordic Hamstring Curl is an exceptional exercise and one of the best hamstring at-home exercises for targeting and strengthening the hamstrings.

The movement focuses on the eccentric or lengthening phase of the hamstring muscles, which is crucial for injury prevention and strengthening the hamstrings.

The Nordic Hamstring Curl targets all three main muscles that make up the hamstrings and are some of the best hamstring exercises at home for developing strength, stability, and flexibility in the lower body.

The exercise involves kneeling on the floor with a partner holding your ankles or using an anchor to secure your feet.
You next lower your upper body slowly towards the floor, ensuring you resist the pull with your hamstrings, and then push back up.

Steps to follow for the Partner-Assisted Nordic Curl hamstring exercises at home

Stability Ball Hamstring Curl

The Stability Ball Hamstring Curl can target and strengthen the hamstrings.

The exercise involves using a stability ball to create an unstable surface, requiring extra effort from the hamstrings to help stabilize and control the movement.

That makes it a challenging movement, yet it is one of the most accessible hamstring exercises at home that engages the hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles.

The Stability Ball Hamstring Curl targets the hamstrings as they work to curl the ball toward the glutes and control its movement during the extension phase. It also engages the glutes and core muscles to maintain stability.

The exercise combines strength, stability, and balance training for the hamstrings, making it one of the best hamstring exercises at home.

To start the movement, lie on your back with your heels on the stability ball.
Lift your hips off the ground, bend your knees, and curl the ball towards your glutes using your hamstrings.

Steps to follow for the stability ball hamstring exercises

Lying Hamstring Curl

The Lying Hamstring Curl is another excellent exercise for targeting and strengthening the hamstrings. It is also one of the most popular hamstring exercises at home for isolating and working the hamstrings.

You will usually perform the exercise with a leg curl machine which allows you to adjust the weight and position yourself correctly for optimal engagement of the hamstrings.

However, you can use resistance bands, ankle weights, or a dumbbell for the lying hamstring curl if you train or exercise from home.

Steps to follow

  • Place a dumbbell of appropriate weight between your feet
  • Lie face down on your stomach, fold your arms, and place them below your neck.
  • Ensure the dumbbell is firmly between your feet.
  • Engage your core and maintain a stable position throughout the exercise.
  • Bend your knees and slowly curl the dumbbell as far as possible towards your buttocks. Focus on squeezing the back of your thighs as you perform the movement.
  • Pause and return the weight slowly to your starting position, fully extending your knees.
  • Repeat up to 15 reps.

Tips

  • Start with a lighter dumbbell and increase the weight as you get stronger.
  • Focus on maintaining a slow and controlled movement throughout the exercise. Do not swing or jerk.
  • Keep your core muscles engaged to stabilize your body and prevent excessive arching or sagging of the lower back.

Single-Leg Deadlift

single leg deadlift - compound leg exercises and hamstring exercises - vid-01

The Single-Leg Deadlift is a unilateral movement that works on one leg at a time.

It is a highly effective hamstring exercise at home for developing and improving balance and stability.

The exercise targets the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

It involves hinging forward at the hips with one leg lifted off the ground, placing a significant load on the hamstring of the working leg.

The exercise involves standing on one leg and hinging forward at the hips while lifting the other leg straight behind you.
Next, lower your upper body until it is parallel to the ground, feeling a stretch in your standing hamstring.
You then return to your starting position and switch legs.

Steps to follow for the single-leg deadlift hamstring exercises at home

Yoga Forward Fold

The Yoga Forward Fold, aka Uttanasana, is a yoga pose for stretching and strengthening the hamstrings.

It is one of the best hamstring exercises at home for targeting the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, calves, and lower back.

You elongate the entire back of your body when you perform the Forward Fold, creating a deep stretch in the hamstrings.

The pose helps to improve flexibility and lengthen the muscles in the back of the legs. It can also gently release the lower back to help you to relax.

Steps it follow

  • Stand with your feet at hip-width, toes pointing forward.
  • Inhale and lengthen your spine by lifting your chest.
  • Exhale, hinge at the hips, bend from your waist and allow your upper body to fold over your legs.
  • Relax your head and neck, and let your arms hang towards the floor, or rest your hands on your shins, ankles, or the floor.
  • Keep a slight bend in your knees if necessary.
  • Hold the position for several deep breaths, gradually relaxing and deepening the stretch.

Good Mornings

good morning with dumbbells back extension alternative exercise

Good Mornings are one of the best compound hamstring exercises at home that focuses on the posterior chain muscles, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

Good Mornings target the hamstrings by placing a significant load on these muscles during the hip hinge movement.

They help develop hamstring strength, stability, and power. They also engage the glutes and lower back as supporting muscles.

You can do the exercise with just your body weight or a pair of dumbbells

Steps to follow for the Good Mornings

Bulgarian Split Squat

bulgarian split squat - front squat alternatives and hamstring exercises at home

The Bulgarian Split Squat primarily targets the quads and the glutes. But it also engages the hamstrings, making it a valuable exercise for hamstring development.

It is a unilateral exercise where you elevate one foot behind you on a bench or an elevated surface with the other foot planted on the floor, making it one the best hamstring exercises at home that can help correct imbalances in your hamstrings.

Although the exercise emphasizes the quadriceps and glutes, the hamstrings help to stabilize the knee joint and assist the movement.

The hamstrings are engaged to control the movement and help maintain stability as you descend into the squat position, helping to tighten and strengthen them.

We recommend you focus on maintaining tension in the back leg throughout the exercise for better engagement of the hamstrings. That will help activate them as stabilizing muscles.

Steps to follow to do the Bulgarian Split Squat

Air Squats

Air squat - hamstring exercises at home

Air squats are compound exercises for targeting the lower body muscles, including the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. While they are not as hamstring-focused as some other exercises, air squats can still engage and strengthen the hamstrings to some extent.

Air squat involves performing a squatting motion without any additional weight or resistance.

The movement involves bending your knees, lowering your hips, and then pushing through your heels to return to your standing position.

The hamstrings act as stabilizers when squatting and help with the hip extension.

The hamstrings work eccentrically to control the descent as you lower into the squat, and they then engage concentrically to assist in the upward phase of the movement.

While air squats may not isolate and directly target the hamstrings as much as exercises like Romanian deadlifts or hamstring curls, they provide a comprehensive lower-body workout and can help strengthen and develop the hamstrings.

Ensure you keep your weight on your heels, push your hips back and engage your glutes and hamstrings as you stand up. That will help target the hamstrings better.

Additionally, performing squats at a slower pace or incorporating pauses at the bottom of the squat can increase the time under tension for the hamstrings, providing additional stimulus.

Air squats are versatile exercises that can help build overall lower body strength. Making them part of your hamstring exercises at home routine can help condition your muscles for other strenuous movements.

The Hamstring Muscles – An Overview

Functions of the hamstrings

The hamstrings are located at the back of the thigh and have three main muscles: the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus.

  • Biceps Femoris
    The biceps femoris is the largest of the hamstring muscles. It runs along the back of the thigh. It has two heads: the long head and the short head. It helps with hip extension and knee flexion.
  • Semitendinosus
    The semitendinosus is on the medial or inner side of the back of the thigh. It assists in hip extension and knee flexion and also helps to stabilize the knee joint.
  • Semimembranosus
    The semimembranosus is also on the medial side of the back of the thigh, beneath the semitendinosus. Its functions are similar to that of the other two hamstring muscles, including hip extension and knee flexion.
  • The hamstrings work with other muscles, such as the glutes and quads, to perform various movements and maintain lower body strength and stability.

Some of the many functions the hamstrings play include

  • Flex the knee joint
    Flexing the knee joint is one of the leading functions of the hamstrings. They bend the knee to pull the leg back towards the buttocks when the hamstrings contract.
  • Extending the hips
    The hamstrings assist in extending the hips, which involves moving the thigh backward when running, walking, climbing stairs, and similar activities.
  • Deceleration
    The hamstrings act as powerful eccentric stabilizers by helping to control and slow down our movement when approaching the end of a sprint or jump.
  • Stabilization of the knee joints
    The hamstrings help to stabilize the knee joints to help protect from injury when walking, running, jumping, or doing similar activities.
  • Helping to maintain proper posture
    The hamstrings work with other posterior chain muscles to help stabilize the pelvis and keep it in a neutral position. Thus they can help you maintain a proper posture.
  • The hamstrings can help prevent injury.
    Strong and flexible hamstrings are crucial for injury prevention, especially when doing activities involving explosive movements.
    Building and strengthening your hamstrings can help reduce the risk of strains, tears, and other hamstring-related injuries.
  • The hamstrings work with other muscles, such as the glutes and quads, to perform various movements and maintain lower body strength and stability.

Benefits of hamstring exercises

Hamstring exercises can help improve lower body strength, functional movement, and injury prevention.

Some of the many benefits of hamstring exercises include

  • Increased Strength
    Hamstring exercises can help strengthen and build the hamstrings, helping you with various activities like running, jumping, and explosive movements.
  • Improved Muscle Balance
    Hamstring exercises can help maintain a balance between the thigh muscles. That can help with proper joint alignment, reducing the risk of imbalances and associated injuries.
  • Enhanced Performance
    Hamstring exercises can help increase power, speed, and agility and improve athletic performance. That can help with explosive movements such as sprinting, jumping, and quickly changing direction.
  • Preventing Injury
    Strengthening the hamstrings with hamstring exercises at home can help stabilize the knee joints to help them absorb and control forces and impacts during physical activities. That can help reduce the risk of hamstring-related injuries, including strains and tears.
  • Hamstring Exercises at home can help with Posture and Alignment
    Weak or tight hamstrings can contribute to poor posture and lower back pain. Including hamstring exercises at home in your fitness regimen can improve posture and alignment and reduce strain on the lower back.
  • Hamstring Exercises at Home can help Functional Movement.
    The hamstrings help in various functional movements, such as walking, climbing stairs, and getting up from a seat. Strengthening the hamstrings can make it easy to do these everyday movements, making them more efficient and reducing the risk of strain or discomfort.
  • Enhanced Flexibility
    Regularly performing hamstring exercises can help widen the range of motion in the hip and knee joints, helping to enhance mobility.

Benefits of hamstring exercises at home

Performing hamstring exercises at home offers several benefits. These include

  • Convenience
    Hamstring exercises at home remove the need to travel to a gym or fitness center. Thus you can work out whenever it fits into your schedule and in the comfort of your own space, saving time and effort.
  • Few or No Equipment
    Hamstring exercises at home require minimal equipment or just your body weight. That makes it accessible for exercisers who may not have access to gym equipment.
  • Cost-Effective
    Home workouts can save money on gym memberships or fitness classes. That means you can achieve a challenging and effective workout without breaking the bank by opting for hamstring exercises at home that use just your body weight.
  • Privacy and Comfort
    Exercising at home allows for privacy and a comfortable environment where you can focus solely on your workout without distractions. That makes it appealing for exercisers who prefer a more personal and intimate setting.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability
    Home workouts provide the flexibility to tailor your routine to your needs and preferences. You can choose from several at-home hamstring exercises and modify them to match your fitness level or address any limitations or injuries.

Final words from LiveLIfe

These hamstring exercises at home can help develop strength, stability, and power in your leg muscles.

Incorporate them into your lower body exercises for better mobility and lower risk of injury.

  1. Behm DG, Blazevich AJ, Kay AD, Mchugh M. Acute effects of muscle stretching on physical performance, range of motion, and injury incidence in healthy active individuals: a systematic review. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016;41(1):1-11. doi:10.1139/apnm-2015-0235
  2. Hegyi A, Csala D, P├ęter A, Finni T, Cronin NJ. High-density electromyography activity in various hamstring exercises. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2019;29(1):34-43. doi:10.1111/sms.13303

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