The key to a good physique is a proportionate and symmetrical development of the body. To build a strong and beautiful body it is not only about training the upper body, chest, and shoulders, and having six-pack abs. It is also about training the lower body that includes some of the largest muscles in our bodies. Unfortunately, people often ignore working on their glutes and hamstrings once they gain bigger arms and a toned waistline. Most of the times, training these muscles is usually at the bottom of the list. For that ripped, flawless physique, inspired by the superheroes, it is important to strengthen and condition this muscle that is one of the largest muscles in the lower body and it is responsible for many bodily functions, performance, balance, and overall physical health. Read on to know more about why training hamstrings is important and the best hamstring exercises for you.
What are hamstrings? In the human body, the hamstring is one of the posterior thigh muscles, that is located at the back of the leg. It is situated between the hip and the knee and comprises of three different muscles–semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris. These muscles together perform various functions like bending the knee, straightening the hip, rotation of the lower leg when the knee is bent and more.
Why Training with Best Hamstring Exercises Is Important?
Developing and strengthening hamstrings is imperative to overall fitness and many functional movements. The hamstrings are vital to the daily functioning of the human body. It assists in several daily activities such as walking, jumping, running, exercising, balancing, and provides support and stability during some powerful movements. One may not be able to walk or run properly if hamstrings are injured. These muscles play an important role in walking as it acts upon two joints, hips and knees. To achieve fast speed and agility to move past obstructions quickly in sports activities comes from strong hamstrings. It helps in keeping our body in balance and gives it the ability to absorb shock due to some high-speed movements. Shifting weight from knees to hips is also performed by hamstring muscles. Also, it contributes largely to the decelerating movement. In simple words, it helps in stopping suddenly and then changing the direction without tipping over. Besides, it helps in maintaining the right posture and the alignment of the hips and spine. Meanwhile, this muscle might be one of the largest but not the strongest. Hence, it is prone to injury and fracture. Therefore, it is important to incorporate the best exercises to strengthen glutes and hamstrings in daily workout routine for stronger legs.
Why Neglecting Hamstrings is Not the Right Thing to Do?
It is important to make the best hamstrings exercises for strength a part of your fitness routine because weak and under-developed hamstrings can prove to be disastrous for you. It will put you at the risk of injury and fall. Many motions and functional movements will be compromised, and it can lead to knee injuries. It can affect the body balance and posture. At the same time, it may ruin the natural curvature of the back and lead to pain in the lower back.
What are the best Exercises for Hamstrings?
There is a range of exercises to develop, tone, and strengthen hamstring muscles. While some can be performed using the bodyweight as resistance against gravity, other requires equipment like free weights (dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebell) and machines. Here are some of the best hamstring exercises to perform.Romanian Deadlift: One of the best hamstring exercises is the Romanian Deadlift. There is no other hamstring exercise that is better than this one. It is a perfect exercise for developing the entire posterior muscle group. It is easy to learn and do. However, in the beginning, it is recommended to perform it under the supervision of an expert. This workout is similar to conventional barbell deadlift that aims to train the glutes and hamstrings. Its effect can also be felt at the back.
Technique: Grab hold of a bar and lift it to the hip level. Your back should be straight, and shoulders should be flexed. At this point, knees will be very slightly bent as you lower down the bar by moving your hip as far as you can. As you bend forward, you will start to feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Come back to the starting position by standing up tall and repeat the movements.Barbell Squat: Another best exercise for strained hamstring or developing hamstrings is the classic barbell squat. As we all know, squatting is the single most effective movement that impacts hamstrings and makes them stronger. Nonetheless, this exercise is actually a total-body exercise that works on most of the major muscle groups except the chest.
Technique: Make sure you load the barbell with the right weight that you can handle easily. Avoid overloading or keeping it too light. For the starting position, keep the barbell behind your head, supported on your traps. Head and chest should be forward, and feet should be at the hip-width distance. Slowly, begin to go down by flexing knees. Make sure that your hip does not go back, and knees come forward. At this point, knees should be parallel to the feet. Move down further, only to the point where upper leg touches the back of the lower leg. Come back to the starting position.Bulgarian Split Squat: This is an advanced level exercise it is performed by bodybuilders, powerlifters, and athletes for strengthening and conditioning hamstrings effectively. Many fitness gurus and trainers vouch for this exercise and suggest that it is one of the best glute hamstring exercises. Additionally, it is an incredible routine for building core and stability.
Technique: For this exercise, you require a sturdy bench behind you and two dumbbells in each hand. Now, put your one leg behind on the bench and the other leg straight in the front. Keep the dumbbells hanging on the side and begin to flex knees and hip and bring your lower body down. Make sure that the knee is parallel to the foot in front. Hold for a few seconds and come back to the starting position.Leg Curl/ Hamstring Curl: For beginners, lying leg curl is the best hamstring exercise. It is a classic move that is practiced by sprinters, athletes, and bodybuilders to strengthen posterior thigh muscle movement.
Technique: This exercise needs to be performed on a machine. Therefore, it is best to seek the advice of the trainer at your fitness center. For a little introduction, adjust the machine to suit your requirements and you must lie down facing the ground. The torso will fall on the bench and legs underneath below the curling panel. Toes should be straight and grab the handles on the side. Now, slowly begin to curl your legs as much as you can and then hold the position for a second or two and go back to the starting position.Single-arm Kettlebell Swing: In order to perform this versatile exercise with free weights, you need a kettlebell. These are easily available in fitness clubs and gyms. The movements are easy, but it takes time for acing the correct technique. Therefore, expert supervision is recommended, if you are a beginner.
Technique: Grab hold of a kettlebell in front of your chest and make sure feet are a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Slightly, bend knees, straighten the back and look ahead. Bring the kettlebell between your legs and quickly reverse the movement, by extending hips and legs to swing the kettlebell out of your legs, forward and upwards to your shoulder height.
Glute-Ham Raise: This is the best hamstring exercise that is performed using a machine. Experts suggest it is one of the greatest workout routines to stimulate hamstring muscles. Since it requires a machine, it is suggested to seek professional help.
Technique: Adjust the machine as per your needs. Place your feet underneath the footplate firmly and lie down on your chest over the bench. Your knees must be stable and on the pad. Slowly flex your knees and bring your toes under the footplate. Begin to bend forward, until your upper body is absolutely straight. Return to the starting position.Glute Bridge: It is the best bodyweight hamstring exercise that involves major body muscle groups. It is said to be the most effective and best hamstring exercises without weights. As the name suggests, it is great for glutes, too. It is easy to follow and perform. Additionally, this movement is beneficial for those suffering from lower back pains. It strengthens and stabilizes the spine and tones glutes and hamstrings.
Technique: For the starting position, lie down on the back, place your hands on the side and bend the knees hip-distance apart. Engage the core and inhale. Begin to lift your hips into a bridge. Hold this position for a second and exhale as you lower down the body in the starting position.Sprinting: High-intensity sprinting is the best way to prepare your hamstrings for sprinting. You might be surprised to know that sprinting is extremely effective in building strong hamstring. Athletes practice sprint in their weekly routine not only to burn fat but also to build these muscles. Studies suggest that sprinting stimulates hamstring muscles. The more intensely you sprint forward, the more impressive the results are. The most impactful sprinting suggested by the experts is incline sprinting. It is important to perform it at least once a week for a positive outcome.
Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls: Many suggest that using the swiss ball for hamstring curls is more effective than the one performed on the machine. This is simply because the movement is an add-on to the classic glute bridge position that must be maintained during this exercise.
Technique: Place your legs on the swiss ball. Make sure your hips are elevated, knees are straight, and arms are on the sides. The weight of the body will be on the shoulder blades. Engage your core and begin to roll the ball inward and outward.Walking Lunge: The classic lunges and walking lunges are one of the first workouts out routines on the leg workout day. This is simply because these two fundamental forms of lunges exercises are one of the best hamstring exercises as well as glute exercises. Besides, it helps develop balance and coordination in the body.
Technique: A first stand with your feet together and keep your back straight. Keep one foot forward and begin to lower down your body until the rear knee is about to touch the floor. Make sure your front thigh is parallel to the ground. Return to the starting position and this time bring the other foot forward and repeat the entire sequence.
Tips to Perform Best Hamstring Exercises for Effective Results
These are a few of the best exercises to tone hamstrings. Please note that these exercises must be performed properly for impressive and visible results. Sometimes, we do make mistakes that can hinder the progress of muscle development. Therefore, to get the best out of your efforts, make sure that the hamstring exercises are not performed at the end of the workout routine. By the end of the session, hamstring muscles have already reached their exhaustion level and there is no way you can experience the impact optimally. Hamstrings do not need you to overload. It is important that you choose the right weight and aim for 12-14 reps in a set. Isometric holds are a great way to activate the muscles and stimulate growth.
Disclaimer: All exercises should be performed under the guidance of certified professionals. If any medical condition exists, please do seek the advice of the physician before starting this exercise program.