The hamstring muscle group comprises biceps femoris muscle, semitendinosus muscle, and semimembranosus muscle. These muscles are located at the back of the thigh. Since tight hamstrings can put one at a risk of muscle strains or injuries, one must perform exercises to strengthen these muscles and improve flexibility. While doing so, it is important to follow the right technique to get better results and avoid an injury. Here are some exercises that you could perform.
It is one of the most effective barbell exercises for strengthening the hamstrings. Here are the steps that you need to follow:
- Prop a barbell with weight plates on your shoulders and stand tall with your chest out and back arched.
- Put your left leg forward as if taking a normal step and then bend your knees to go down.
- Don’t let your right knee touch the ground and make sure that the left knee doesn’t get ahead of your toes.
- Press your left heel into the ground, and exhale as you come up.
- Do 12 to 15 repetitions and repeat this leg exercise with your right foot.
The barbell deadlift is another effective exercise for strengthening your back and hamstrings. Here’s what you need to do:
- Place a barbell with weights in front of you and stand as close to it as possible.
- Bend down and grip the barbell with an alternate grip, keeping one hand above the barbell and the other under the barbell.
- Keep your back tight and get up without bending your elbows. As you stand up, the bar should end at your hips.
- Bend your torso forward by slightly bending your knees. Go down till your torso is parallel to the ground.
- Do 2-3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.
Seated Leg Curl
This is one of the best quad and hamstring strengthening exercises. Most gyms will have a leg curl machine, and you can perform this exercise using the machine.
- Sit on the leg curl machine, making sure that your back is tight, chest is out, and head is straight.
- Exhale when you push down your legs, and inhale as you straighten the knees and return to the start position.
- You should feel the stretch in your hamstrings while doing this routine.
- Get on all fours on the floor, so that your torso is parallel to the ground and your thighs are perpendicular to the floor.
- Lift your left leg parallel to the floor, while keeping the knee bent and the foot flexed.
- Stay in this position for a few seconds, and return to the start position.
- Do 15 to 20 repetitions with one leg, and repeat with the other leg.
- Do at least 2 to 3 sets of this exercise.
- Lie on your back, with the right foot extended above.
- Loop the band over the balls of the right foot.
- Hold on to the band so as to create tension in the hamstring and the calf muscles.
- Straighten the right leg as much as you can. Stay in this position for 15 to 20 seconds.
- Repeat this with the other leg.
Besides performing exercises to strengthen their leg muscles, runners must also pay attention to their diet. It is also advisable to consult your physician before starting any hamstring workout routine, especially one which involves lifting weights.