Top 4 Best Hamstring Exercises for Women



Step-by-Step Instructions and Videos Below

The following best hamstring exercises use free weights (dumbbells and barbells) or no weights at all. They can be done at home or at the gym. Weight training equipment at gyms will also provide variety to your workout routines.

Remember that "hamstrings" refers to the muscles at the back of the thighs, or the backs of our upper legs. They are actually composed of three muscles: Biceps Femoris, Semitendinosus and Semimembranosus.

The exercises listed below are not only effective thigh workouts, but some are also great thigh stretching exercises.

For workouts focusing on other parts of the leg, including calves, quadriceps, and front thighs, see Leg Exercises for Women.

Good Mornings

Equipment needed: Barbell

Targeted muscles: Biceps femoris (long head), semitendinosus, semimembranosus, gluteus maximus (butt)

Step-by-Step

  1. Stand with your feet slightly apart.
  2. Rest the barbell across the top of your shoulders.
  3. Keeping your back very straight, inhale and bend your torso forward until you are horizontal with the floor.
  4. Return to the starting position and exhale.
  5. Repeat the complete movement several times, depending on your particular workout routine.

Best Hamstring Exercises Tips

  • To protect your knees, don't bend forward more than 90 degrees.
  • When you're starting out, you can bend the knees slightly to make the movement easier.
  • Keep your knees straight (never locked) for a greater hamstring stretch.
  • Keep your back straight when bending forward. Never round your back.
  • As with all weight training exercises, do the movement slowly and concentrate on the feel of the muscles.
  • Instead of a barbell, you can also use a light weight staff for this exercise. Doing Good Mornings with a Staff is an excellent warm-up and stretch for your hamstrings. Regular stretching will also help you to avoid injuries when using heavier weights.

Hamstrings at a Bench

Equipment needed: Bench

Targeted muscles: Biceps femoris, semitendinosus, semimembranosus, gastrocnemius (calf muscle)

Step-by-Step

  1. Lie on your belly on a bench; lift your head (your forearms and elbows on the bench to hold up your head and shoulders.
  2. Extend your legs with your knees off the other edge of the bench, feet flexed.
  3. Flex both lower legs by bringing the heels of your feet towards your butt.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement.

Best Hamstring Exercises Tips

  • For the best results, perform the movement slowly and focus on contracting your hamstrings as much as you can when you bring your feet towards your butt.
  • Since this particular version on a bench is done without free weights, you need to do several repetitions for effectiveness.
  • Hamstrings at a Bench can also be done using a dumbbell between your ankles or with added ankle weights.
  • You can do this same movement, but with your toes pointed for a calf muscles workout.

Hamstrings on the Floor

Equipment needed: None

Targeted muscles: Biceps femoris, semitendinosus, semimembranosus

Step-by-Step

  1. Kneel on the floor and lean the front part of your body on your elbows with your lower arms facing forward, hands flat on the ground.
  2. Extend one leg out behind you.
  3. Flex the extended leg trying to touch your butt with the heel.
  4. Maintain the contracted position for two seconds or more.
  5. Extend the same leg and repeat the movement.
  6. After several repetitions, switch legs.

Best Hamstring Exercises Tips

  • For the best results, perform these hamstring exercises without weights slowly and focus on contracting your hamstrings as much as you can when you bring your foot towards your butt.
  • Since this one is done without weights, you need to do several repetitions to feel a burn.
  • Add ankle weights for a more intense workout.
  • You can also do a standing variation with a chair. Stand behind a chair and hold the back. Lift one leg at a time following the same instructions as for the floor routine.

Kneeling Hamstrings

Equipment needed: A partner or something to secure and hold down your feet

Targeted muscles: Biceps femoris, semitendinosus, semimembranosus

Step-by-Step

  1. Kneel on the floor with your arms across your chest.
  2. Have your partner hold your feet firmly; or secure your feet firmly so that they do not move.
  3. Lean your body forward from your knees.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Best Hamstring Exercises Tips

  • No additional weights are used for this movement, however, it is very challenging, so it's best to start with small movements.
  • It's even more important to warm up your muscles before this exercise. You can warm up by doing Good Mornings with a Staff.

Using Weight Training Machines

If you have access to a gym, you can find many different types of equipment to work your hamstrings.

Here are a few other exercises that can be done with special weight training equipment at the gym:

  • Standing Leg Curls
  • Seated Leg Curls
  • Lying Leg Curls
  • Hamstring Curls

To ensure that you're getting the best results from your workout, and to prevent injury, it's a great idea to ask a personal trainer at the gym to show you how to use the machines for the best hamstring exercises and workouts.

How to Get Great Legs All-Around

Killer Quads website

Whether you want to lose fat, build muscle, or just want to shape and tone your legs, the right exercises will help you reach your goals.

A great all-round program for your legs is the Killer Quads program written by 20-year female bodybuilding veteran, Karen Sessions. The title is a little misleading as her e-book doesn't only focus on quads, but on all the muscles in our legs.

You can visit Karen's website to see if her program is right for you. Just click on the link above.

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