Hamstrings are essential to balance when you're walking, standing and exercising, but it's a difficult area to work. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise regimen, then add hamstrings workouts to your plan. Start with simple, non-weight-bearing exercises and work up to more complicated moves with weights when you're ready.
Lying Leg Curl
If you are just starting to exercise, start strengthening your hamstrings while lying on the floor to help prevent injuries to your back or to eliminate the risk of losing your balance and falling. Lie on your stomach with your legs straight and tighten your abdominal muscles. Bend one knee to lift one leg, pushing it as close to your buttocks as is comfortable. Release the leg slowly back to the floor, then repeat with the other leg. Perform 10 repetitions per leg, rest for two minutes and repeat the set.
Standing Leg Curl
A standing leg curl helps develop your balance while working your hamstrings. Use a sturdy chair or counter for balance. Face the chair or counter and hold it with your hands, standing with your feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight to one foot, then lift the other foot by bending your knee. Slowly pull it up as close to your thigh as possible, then release. Repeat 10 times on each leg, rest for two minutes and complete another set of 10 repetitions.
Squats work several muscles, including your gluteus, quadriceps and hamstrings. Place pillows on a chair when learning this exercise so you don't have to squat so far. Stand in front of the chair with your feet slightly wider than hip width. Keep your back straight and your knees over your toes while you lower your body as if you're going to sit in the chair. As soon as your body touches the pillows or chair, pull your body back up straight. The wider your feet are, the more you'll work your hamstrings in this exercise. Widen your stance as you gain hamstring strength.
Similar to deadlifts, dumbbell lifts stretch and strengthen your hamstrings. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a light dumbbell in each hand. Hold your hands in front of your body and lean forward at the waist, keeping your back straight as you lower your hands as close to the floor as is comfortable. Tighten your hamstrings to help pull your body up into a standing position. Repeat this exercise 12 times, increasing the weights when you can. Don't perform these hamstring exercises if you have lower back problems or problems with dizziness.
The basic motion of walking works the hamstrings slightly, but you can increase the hamstring workout by walking uphill. The angle of the hill causes you to lean forward slightly, which deepens the workout on the hamstrings. Walking back downhill works your quadriceps more, helping develop the muscles in your legs equally.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Growing Stronger -- Strength Training for Older Adults, Stage 3
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Growing Stronger -- Strength Training for Older Adults, Stage 1
- Ace Fitness: Prone (Lying) Hamstrings Curl
- Monkey See: Fit Over 50 -- Hamstring Exercises