When it comes to lower body training, the hamstrings, which are responsible for bending our knees and straightening our legs, don’t get a lot of love. It is a group of three muscles located at the back of your thigh, between the hip and the lower leg. You need to have strong hamstrings so that you don’t have any problems walking or running. All you need to do is incorporate some hamstring strengthening exercises into your training regimen. Read on to find out the best hamstring exercises you can do.
Many people focus more on the muscles they can see in the mirror and neglect their hamstrings when training. If you are one of them, you are making a mistake. Fitness expert Varun Rattan says that if your hamstrings are weaker than your quadriceps (the muscles at the front of your thigh), you may develop an anterior pelvic tilt. It’s when your pelvis tilts forward, causing your lower back to bend excessively.
Additionally, weak hamstrings can make you more susceptible to muscle strains, especially during explosive movements like sprinting or jumping. This is because the hamstrings have to work harder to slow the leg during the swing phase of running or landing after a jump. If they are not strong enough to handle the force, they can become overloaded or tear. So it is important to do hamstring strengthening exercises.
There are many benefits of strong hamstrings:
• It improves your posture and balance
• Reduces the risk of injuries such as hamstring injuries and ACL tears
• Improves your speed and strength
• Prevents muscle imbalances and compensations.
Best hamstring exercises for strengthening legs
You should choose exercises that target your hamstrings and help you build stronger legs. Here are some exercises you can do:
1. Leg curl
To perform the leg curl, lie on your chest on a leg curl machine with your ankles under the padded handle. Curl your legs up towards your buttocks and then lower them back to the starting position, but be slow as you do this. The expert says don’t lift your hips off the bench or use momentum. Keep your hips pressed into the bench throughout the movement and use a slow, controlled pace.
2. Nordic hamstring curl
Kneel on a mat with a partner holding your ankles firmly, keeping your body straight from head to knees. Beginners can use a resistance band and loop it around the chest, while the other end is anchored to a sturdy frame behind their feet. Slowly lower yourself forward as far as possible while resisting gravity with your hamstrings. Use your arms to break the fall and push yourself back up to the starting position. Do not bend at the hips or around the back during the lowering phase. Maintain a neutral spine and lower yourself in a controlled manner.
3. Long handle hip thrust
Lie on your back with your knees bent at 110 degrees and your heels on the floor, hip-width apart. While squeezing your glutes, lift your hips off the floor until they are fully extended. Slowly lower your hips back to the starting position. Do not hyperextend or hyperextend the lower back at the top. Keep your knees in line with your toes throughout the movement.
4. Romanian deadlift
To do this exercise, make sure you are standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell directly in front of your thighs with an overhand grip. Keep the knees slightly bent, hinging at your hips. Lower the weight toward the floor while keeping it close to your legs. Stop before the lower back starts to round. Drive through your hips and squeeze your glutes to return to the standing position. Make sure that the back does not round or arch during the movement. Maintain a gentle bend in your knees and maintain it throughout the movement.
5. Kettlebell swing
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and hold a kettlebell in front of you with both hands. Hinge at your hips and let the kettlebell swing between your legs, keeping your back neutral. Then explosively push your hips forward and swing the kettlebell to chest height, squeezing your glutes at the top. Let the kettlebell swing back down and repeat the movement. Do not round or hyperextend your back during the swing. The knees should not be bent too much or locked at the top. Also, the kettlebell should not be lifted with your arms. Remember, it is neither a squat nor a shoulder front raise.
So fitness enthusiasts don’t forget to strengthen their hamstrings.