Bodyweight hamstring exercises can be done anywhere and anytime, and are great for hamstring health and flexibility. And we all know that hamstrings are a muscle group with crucial roles in various activities, so this is time well spent.
Your hamstrings contribute to leg development, and strengthening them can lead to more athleticism, lower body aesthetics, and lower injury risk.
That said, is it possible to train them effectively without special equipment? It is, but you must understand how the muscle works and use the correct exercises.
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A Quick Look at Hamstring Anatomy and Function
The hamstrings, or ‘hammies,’ are long muscles that make up the back of the thighs. They originate from the hip bone and attach to parts of the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones).
Their primary functions are to:
- Assist the gluteus maximums (glutes) with hip extension (driving the hips forward to stand up, such as when lifting a weight off the floor)
- Bend the knee, such as when performing a lying hamstring curl
For best results, it’s recommended to perform both types of exercises. In a gym setting, that would mean a combination like Romanian deadlifts (hip extension) and seated hamstring curls (knee flexion).
Training the hamstrings at the gym is not that difficult, as there are plenty of exercise options. However, it gets more challenging to do so at home, especially if you don’t have any equipment.
Loading a hip hinge is difficult, and it can be challenging to come up with creative tactics to flex the knees against resistance. Fortunately, there are ways to get the job done, so let’s discuss.
5 Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises For Effective Workouts Anywhere
1. Nordic Hamstring Curl
If you can set it up at home, the Nordic hamstring curl will allow you to target the back of your thighs quite well and create the necessary overload for long-term growth.
- Get on your knees and secure your feet under heavy furniture (e.g., a couch), or have someone hold them down.
- Bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and squeeze your glutes.
- Inhale and slowly lower your torso forward. Keep your arms in front of you in case you fall forward.
- Lower yourself as much as possible and flex your hamstrings to return to the top as you exhale.
2. Slick Floor Hamstring Curl
This more creative variation of the classic hamstring curl is quite effective. The best part is that you can do it without equipment if you have a slick floor at home.
- Lie on the floor, bend your knees, and have your feet flat on the ground.
- Position your arms to your sides, squeeze your abs, and inhale.
- Push your feet forward, sliding your heels on a slick floor. Alternatively, position workout sliders underneath your heels to reduce friction.
- Extend your knees as much as you can and pause.
- Slowly flex your knees as you bring your heels toward your buttocks and exhale.
3. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
This is one of the best bodyweight hamstring exercises to target one side at a time and build balance.
- Stand tall and flex your abs.
- Lean slightly to your left and raise your right foot an inch off the floor.
- Inhale and slowly lean forward while keeping your back straight. Allow your right leg to travel back.
- Lean forward as much as you can, pause briefly, and stand up.
- Once finished training one side, step on your right foot, and repeat.
4. Reverse Lunge
While primarily a quad exercise, performing lunges backward emphasizes the posterior chain: glutes and hamstrings. (1)
- Stand tall with your hands on your hips.
- Bring your shoulders back, inhale, and squeeze your abs.
- Move your right leg back and plant the foot on the floor.
- Immediately descend into a lunge.
- Extend your left knee and bring your right foot to the starting position as you exhale.
- Take another breath and bring your left leg back.
5. Glute Bridge
Glute bridges are a simple and beginner-friendly exercise to target the glutes and hamstrings.
- Lie on the floor, bend your knees, and plant your feet flat.
- Position your arms to your sides, take a breath, and engage your abs.
- Push through your heels and drive your hips to the ceiling. Squeeze your hamstrings and glutes at the top.
- Slowly lower your butt to the floor and exhale.
Safety Tips And Final Words
Training the hamstrings at home with little to no equipment can be challenging. But, as you can see, there are several bodyweight hamstring exercises that can get the job done.
To make the most of your training, always focus on proper form and warm up well before each session. (2)
Do light cardio (e.g., jumping jacks and high knees) and dynamic stretching (e.g., leg swings) to prepare your body.
Also, focus on activating your hamstrings on every rep. The back of your thighs should be burning up by the end of each set.
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- Edwards, T. (2023, April 14). What muscles do lunges work?. Healthline.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, August 31). The right way to warm up and cool down. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20045517