Building strong legs is essential for overall fitness and athleticism, and a crucial part of leg strength lies in developing the hamstrings. Strong hamstrings enhance athletic performance and reduce the risk of injuries. Incorporating various hamstring exercises into your workout routine can help you achieve balanced leg strength. That’s why I’ve rounded up 11 effective hamstring exercises for stronger legs, stability, and flexibility in your lower body.

If you’re new to these exercises, remember to start with lighter weights or modifications and gradually increase intensity as you progress. Additionally, always maintain proper form to prevent injury and maximize results.

Whether you’re an athlete looking to improve performance or someone simply aiming for stronger, more resilient legs, these hamstring exercises for stronger legs will undoubtedly help you achieve your fitness goals.

Romanian Deadlifts

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Romanian deadlifts are a staple in hamstring workouts as they effectively isolate and strengthen the muscles in the back of your thighs.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell or dumbbells in front of your thighs with an overhand grip. Keeping your back straight and chest up, hinge at your hips and lower the weight down your thighs. Lower the weight until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, then drive through your heels to return to the starting position, squeezing your glutes at the top. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

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Glute-ham Raises

The glute-ham raises is an excellent bodyweight exercise that targets the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

Start by kneeling on a glute-ham raise machine or a stable surface with your feet secured. Keep your back straight, and lower your torso forward until it’s parallel to the ground. Engage your hamstrings to pull your torso back to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Single-leg Romanian Deadlifts

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The single-leg Romanian deadlift is a unilateral exercise that helps improve balance and stability while targeting each hamstring individually.

Stand on one leg with a slight bend in the knee, holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in the opposite hand. Hinge at your hips and lower the weight toward the ground while simultaneously lifting your non-working leg straight back. Keep your back flat and chest up throughout the movement. Drive through the heel of your standing leg to return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps before switching legs.

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Hamstring Curls (Machine or Swiss Ball)

Hamstring curls, which target the muscles at the back of the thigh, can be performed using a machine at the gym or a stability ball at home.

Here’s how to perform a machine hamstring curl:

Adjust the machine’s settings to fit your height and comfort. Lie face down on the machine with your ankles hooked under the roller pads. Flex your knees to curl the pad toward your glutes, contracting your hamstrings. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Here are the steps to perform this move with a stability ball:

Lie on your back with your feet elevated on a stability ball and arms by your sides for stability. Lift your hips off the ground, keeping your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Flex your knees to roll the ball toward your glutes, engaging your hamstrings. Extend your legs to roll the ball back to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Nordic Hamstring Curls

The Nordic hamstring curl is an advanced bodyweight exercise that targets the hamstrings eccentrically, helping to prevent injury and improve running performance.

Kneel on a soft surface with your partner holding your ankles or secure your feet under a stable object. Slowly lower your torso toward the ground, keeping your back straight and engaging your hamstrings. Use your hamstrings to control the descent until you’re parallel to the ground. Push through your hands or the ground to return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

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Sumo Deadlifts

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The sumo deadlift is a variation of a conventional deadlift that targets the hamstrings, glutes, and inner thighs.

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and toes pointed slightly outward. Grip the barbell with your hands inside your legs, keeping your back flat and chest up. Push through your heels to lift the barbell, driving your hips forward and squeezing your glutes at the top. Lower the weight back down with control, keeping it close to your body. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Reverse Lunges

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Reverse lunges are compound exercises that target the hamstrings and work the quads, glutes, and calves.

Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Step one foot back, lowering your back knee toward the ground while keeping your front knee at a 90-degree angle. Push through your front heel to return to the starting position. Repeat on the other leg. Continue alternating legs for the desired number of reps.

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Good Mornings

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Good mornings are simple yet effective exercises for targeting the hamstrings and lower back.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a barbell across your upper back or dumbbells by your shoulders. Hinge at your hips, lowering your torso toward the ground while keeping your back flat and chest up. Engage your hamstrings to return to the starting position, squeezing your glutes at the top. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Kettlebell Swings

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The kettlebell swing is a dynamic exercise that targets the hamstrings, glutes, and core while improving explosive power.

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, holding a kettlebell with both hands between your legs. Hinge at your hips, lowering the kettlebell between your legs with a slight bend in your knees. Explosively drive your hips forward, swinging the kettlebell up to shoulder height. Allow the kettlebell to swing back between your legs, then immediately hinge at your hips to initiate the next rep. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Single-leg Glute Bridges

single-leg glute bridge hip extension
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Single-leg glute bridges target the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back while improving hip stability.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Lift one foot off the ground and extend it straight toward the ceiling. Press through the heel of your grounded foot to lift your hips toward the sky, squeezing your glutes and hamstrings at the top. Lower your hips back down with control. Repeat for the desired number of reps before switching legs.

Stability Ball Leg Curls

exercise ball leg curl
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Stability ball leg curls are challenging hamstring exercises that require stability and control while targeting the hamstrings and glutes.

Lie on your back with your heels on top of a stability ball and arms by your sides for stability. Lift your hips off the ground, forming a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Engage your core and hamstrings, then roll the ball toward your glutes by bending your knees. Keep your hips lifted throughout the movement to maintain stability. Extend your legs to roll the ball back to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

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