If you are on a mission to build toned leg muscles, improve muscle contour, build strength and get the look of contoured legs, you need to add hamstring exercises to your strength routine. there is.
Sure, strengthening your quadriceps and glutes is also a top priority, and squats, deadlifts, and hip thrusts can help with that, but there are a variety of lower-body exercises to tone your legs. is essential. Are you paying as much attention to your hamstrings as you do your squats?
Here are 10 of the best hamstring exercises for toned legs without a leg curl machine in the gym. Get the best resistance bands and read on.
Hamstring Exercises: Benefits
The hamstrings run behind your legs and help you squat, walk, and perform lower-body exercises. Three muscles form the hamstrings: the biceps femoris, the semimembranosus, and the semitendinosus. Hamstrings must be strong to stabilize the body and support hip extension and rotation and knee flexion.
Strong hamstrings keep you stable and mobile so you can move efficiently. Increasing the flexibility of these muscles also helps you perform your daily tasks and reduces your chances of injury as you age. In addition to developing your core and glutes, hamstrings protect your lower back from injury and pain.
7 Best Hamstring Exercises to Build Stronger Legs Without Weights
You don’t need weights for these hamstring exercises, but using dumbbells, resistance bands, or the best kettlebells will add extra resistance to your muscles and, when done regularly, will increase mass and strength and improve definition. To do. This is the principle called “progressive overload”.
1. Nordic curl
This is one of the most difficult movements to master and puts a lot of stress on your core muscles, hips and hamstrings. Place a yoga mat or pad under your knees and kneel with your feet firmly against a wall. Strengthen your core and keep your back tall. Slowly lean forward with control without rounding your back, pause, then slowly return to the starting position.
Try not to push your butt back. If possible, lower your chest to the floor, lower your hands, and push explosively back to the starting position. You can also attach a resistance band around your waist and tie it in the back, or you can hold weights in each hand to make the movement more difficult.
2. The inchworm strikes
If you want to learn more about this hamstring exercise, I recently did the inchworm exercise daily for a week.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees slightly. With your hands on the ground in front of your feet and keeping your arms and legs as straight as possible, start walking your hands forward into a plank position. Pause and reverse the steps back to the starting position.
3. Prone to striped leg curls
Start by lying on your stomach. Wrap the resistance band around the back pole (or similar stationary object). Place one leg through the band just above your ankle and extend the other leg on the floor. Extend your banded leg away from your body, curl your leg toward your buttocks, and bend your knees. Keep your hips square.
This is a leg curl variation that is much more accessible than the regular hamstring leg curl.
4. good morning
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Place your hands behind your head and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Strengthen your core. With control, straighten your spine and lower your chest toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. This is not the same for everyone as everyone has a different level of mobility. Pause, then return to standing and tighten your glutes.
You can also stand on one end of a resistance band and wrap it around your upper back to make the movement more difficult, or add a barbell. Learn more about barbell rows and Good Morning here. Either way, good morning works your posterior chain muscles, including your hips, glutes, core, and hamstrings.
5. Staggered RDL
The Staggered Stance RDL allows you to focus on one leg at a time. Start on your left foot and place the toes of your right foot hip-width apart on the floor in line with your left heel. Squeeze your core to keep your back flat, bend your hips forward and drive your buttocks back and lower your chest toward the floor. Pause, get up in your car and switch sides.
You can also add resistance and make the exercise more difficult by holding weights close to your chest, holding weights in each hand (see video above), or placing a barbell across your upper back. Learn more about how to do the Romanian Deadlift here.
6. Back hamstring curl
Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart and pressed into the floor. Place sliders under both feet. You can also use things like dish towels and T-shirts. If you want to know more, we recently discussed the pros and cons during the alligator drag sit-up fitness challenge.
Move your hips toward the ceiling and tighten your abs. With control, slide your feet and straighten your legs without letting your hips drop. Keep building your core. Pause and move your feet toward your buttocks.
7. Elevated single-leg gluteal bridge
Place a box or bench in front of you and lie on your back. Place your left heel on the edge of the box and extend your right leg away from your body and into the air. Move your hips toward the ceiling, squeezing your glutes and pressing into your heels. Pause and slowly lower your buttocks to the floor. Switch sides.
You can add weights to your lower back for extra resistance, or wear activation bands above your knees to further strengthen your leg muscles. Learn more about how to do glute bridges and single leg glute bridges. The example above needs to be done from the floor, and once you’ve successfully completed the hamstring exercise, move on to the box.
The best way to target your hamstrings during your workout is to program a combination of knee flexion (think leg curl) and hip extension (think hip hinge) exercises. To best train your hamstrings, combine each movement into a circuit or pick a few and add them to your existing routine.
To run as a circuit, start your first exercise for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds. Move to next and repeat. Complete 4-5 rounds, or as many rounds as you like.