You may not notice the back of your own thighs very often, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about them at the gym. Hamstrings are important for a strong athletic performance and protecting the knee. Plus, with strong hamstrings, you’ll likely be more confident to strut your stuff on the beach. Warm up by walking or jogging for 10 minutes and then aim for three sets of each hamstring exercise. To get real results, workout your hamstrings alone or work them before any other muscle at least one day per week.
Do the hamstring curl. Get into a plank position with your hands flat on the floor and your legs straight. Place a dumbbell on your lower right thigh and bend your knee to hold the weight in place in the crook of your knee with your calf. Lower your knee to the floor and then lift it up to hip level. Lift and lower 15 times and then repeat with the other leg.
Perform the reverse-grip deadlift row. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing the wall in front of you. Bend your knees slightly, tighten your abs and lean forward with a flat back, bending your hips 90 degrees. Look forward. Lift the weights up to the sides of your body and lower them back down as if you were rowing. Keep rowing for several minutes. Stand back up.
Complete the exercise-ball leg curl. Lie on your back on the floor and place both of your feet on top of an exercise ball. Your legs should be straight. Bend your knees as you move the ball toward you, lifting your hips off of the ground. Hold for 2 seconds. Straighten your legs, moving the ball away from you. Repeat 15 times.
Stretch your hamstrings. Stand in front of your exercise ball with your feet together. Place your left heel on the exercise ball with your leg straight. Flex your foot. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
- Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercises. If you feel pain while stretching, stop.
Though constantly traveling the world, Julia Williams is based in Chicago and has been writing since 2006. Williams holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting. She is also a licensed fitness instructor, specializing in Pilates since 2003 and has written hundreds of articles on exercise and health.