4 Hamstring Exercises To Strengthen Muscles & Boost Flexibility
Have tight hamstrings? Contrary to popular belief, stretching isn’t necessarily your answer.
That’s because stretching isn’t a surefire way to improve your hamstring flexibility and restore your range of motion. In fact, if poor alignment is to blame, your hamstrings are already in an overextended position.
In that case, stretching can actually be counterproductive, says Mike Robertson, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training.
The first step in finding relief, he says, is to work toward achieving proper pelvic positioning, which will alleviate tension down the back of your thighs. The second step is to strengthen your hamstrings so they can help you maintain that good alignment in whatever you’re doing, whether it’s sitting, walking, or running.
We have you covered with this simple, two-day hamstring workout recommended by Robertson. The warmup moves will help you first improve your pelvic positioning. Then, you’ll work on strengthening your muscles. You will break up the strength moves: Do the first two on one day, and the second two on your other strength day.
As for how to schedule them? For people running two or three times per week, you can just do these workouts on your off days. But if you are running four or more times per week, you should do these hamstring workouts after your run.
Warmup: All Fours Belly Lift
Get on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the ground beneath your shoulders. Exhale and round your back toward the ceiling. Keeping your back curved, take four to five breaths, then relax. That’s one rep. Do five.
Warmup: 90-90 Hip Lift
Get in the position shown above. Exhale. Lift your pelvis so your lower back flattens against the floor. Maintain that as you breathe in, and then fully out. Hold the end of the exhale for three to five seconds. Take five breaths; hold the exhale on each. Repeat that five times.
Day One: Deadlift
Hold a pair of dumbbells. Hinge at the hips by pushing your glutes back, and lower the weight in front of your legs. Lower the weight as far as your flexibility allows, then push with your hips and thighs to bring it back up. Do three sets of eight to 10 reps.
Day One: Ball Leg Curls
Lie on the floor with your heels on top of a stability ball. Lift your pelvis so that your body forms a straight line from head to heels, exhale, and then use your heels to roll the ball toward your glutes. Do three sets of eight to 10 reps.
Day Two: Single-Leg Deadlift
Hold a dumbbell in your left hand. Hinge at the hips to lift your left leg as you lower the weight down. Return to standing. Do three sets of eight to 10 reps.
Day Two: Nordic Hamstrings
Kneel with your feet secured. Exhale and lower your torso toward the floor. Keep the movement slow and controlled for as long as you can. When you start to accelerate forward, place your hands in front of you. Press through your hands to push yourself back up. Do three sets of three to five reps.