Hamstring Exercises - Are Your Hamstrings As Strong As Your Quads?

Strong Hamstrings Are Critical For Speed, Power, and Injury Prevention

Hamstring exercises are often overlooked, but they are vitally important for several reasons. Injury prevention is at the top of the list.  Athletic performance is next.  Finally, they play a big role in the overall shape of the leg. So aesthetically speaking, if you’re looking to tone and tighten your legs, you can’t overlook the hamstrings. 

Too often you see people working every part of their lower body except their hamstrings.  Maybe they don't think about them because they can't really see them.  But think about balance.  The hamstring muscles live on the opposite side of the same bone as the quadriceps muscles.  The quads extend the leg and the hamstrings bend the leg.

It's important to have strong quadriceps, and people get that.  You see them working on their quads all the time.  But does it make sense to have your quads way stronger than the hamstring muscles that live right behind them and compliment every move they make?  Of course not.  They all work together to move you. 

When you think about working out your legs, you need to include your hamstrings exercises.

In fact one of the main contributors to hamstring injuries is having the muscles in the front of the leg significantly stronger than their counterparts in the back of the leg.   

Your hamstrings control bending and flexing of the leg.  That makes them central to walking, running, jumping, cycling, and bursts of speed.

Whether your focus is sports, a weekend 5K, or a good, solid boot camp workout, make sure your hamstrings are strong, flexible, AND warmed up.  If you forget about your hamstrings, they could remind you they are there in an ugly way.  Don't get sidelined because you blew of your hammies and took them for granted.

If you are trying to sprint, cut, jump, or anything else athletic, and your hamstrings are not as strong as your other leg muscles, they could fail.  And if that happens, you are on the bench

The hamstring exercises below are not just there to make you look good - even though they do that.  They are there to keep you in the game and performing at your best.

Don't forget that there is an added benefit.  The hamstring is a large muscle. Developing your muscles, particularly your large muscles, helps burn fat and cellulite.  

Injury Prevention

Since hamstring pulls are fairly common, let’s talk about prevention. The hamstrings can become injured or torn if they are overloaded before they are ready. Warm them up slowly and get them ready to work.

Start with at least some brisk walking or light jogging to get some blood into the muscles.  Do not try to vigorously stretch a cold muscle. 

Then go to a basic toe touch. Standing with your legs straight, bend at the waist and reach for your toes. Do it slowly. When you get to the bottom or as far as you can stretch, hold it for at least 20 seconds. 

If you can’t touch your toes without bending your knees, keep at it until you can. There are more stretching exercises coming to this site.

Remember, it’s a lot easier to prevent a hamstring injury than it is to heal from one.

Single Leg

Single Leg Deadlift

Single Leg Deadlift

I did the same old hamstring curl exercise on the machine at the gym for years.  Then I tried a few sets of the single leg deadlift.

What a HUGE difference!  The single leg deadlift is amazing for the hamstrings and so much more.

Good Morning

Good Morning Exercise

Good mornings naturally fit in with hamstring exercises as well as back exercises. They are very demanding on the lower back. When done right, they are excellent for improving lower back and core strength as well as hamstring strength and flexibility.

Hip Extension

Hip Extension Exercise

The hip extension exercise is great for the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. 

Just like all of the other great boot camp exercises, no equipment needed – do them anywhere!

The basic floor movement is a very good beginning exercise. The modifiers will give you an extra challenge when you're ready for it.

Resistance Band Leg Curls

Resistance Band Leg Curls

There are a bunch of different ways you can work out your hamstring using a resistance band. The exercises are fairly simple, but check out this page to get the basics right. Then it’s just a matter of fixing one end of the resistance band so it doesn’t move, attaching the other end to your ankle, and curl the leg.

Exercise Ball
Leg Curls

Exercise Ball Leg Curls

The exercise ball leg curl is a nice leg exercise because not only are they a great hamstring exercise, they also work the gluteals and core muscles.


Glute Kickbacks

This is an easy exercise that targets the butt and hamstrings, and doesn’t require any equipment. Fits right in with your boot camp leg workout.

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