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How to Strengthen the Gracilis & Biceps Femoris

author image Allison Obershaw
Allison Obershaw is a certified massage therapist and reiki master with certificates in holistic health and foot reflexology. She runs, practices yoga and meditation, forever remaining a student of it all. In her former life, she earned a bachelor's degree in English and wrote screenplays about Confederate vampires and Las Vegas.
How to Strengthen the Gracilis & Biceps Femoris
A woman working her hamstrings on a stability ball. Photo Credit blanaru/iStock/Getty Images

The gracilis and biceps femoris -- the hamstring -- are important muscles, as they both attach to the pelvis and sandwich the knee. They affect simple activities such as sitting or climbing stairs. These muscles are also important in athletic activities like horse riding, hurdling, soccer and sprinting. The main actions of these muscles are to bend the knees and rotate the hips. An additional action of the biceps femoris is to extend the hip. They generally work together to create fluidity in movement of the legs.

Gym Machines

How to Strengthen the Gracilis & Biceps Femoris
The gym offers a wide variety of machines to strengthen your legs. Photo Credit Chris Clinton/Photodisc/Getty Images

Gyms have numerous machines that you can use to strengthen the gracilis and biceps femoris. To work both of these muscles, use leg curl machines and a multi-hip machine. To specifically strengthen the gracilis, a hip-joint adduction machine is recommended. Carefully follow the instructions that are attached to each machine.

At-home Exercise for Biceps Femoris

How to Strengthen the Gracilis & Biceps Femoris
Exercise bands help strengthen the biceps femoris. Photo Credit Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images

To strengthen and stretch the biceps femoris, perform a 90-degree leg lift. Lying with your back comfortably flat on your yoga mat, start with both legs bent. Straighten one leg onto the mat while slowly lifting the other leg with the exercise band wrapped around the sole of your foot. Lift as close to a 90-degree angle that you can get. By keeping your back and other leg as flat to the ground as possible, hold the position for up to a minute. Repeat this exercise three times, and do the other side. When lifting and releasing your legs, do not strain your head and neck. Keep them relaxed.

At-Home Exercise for Gracilis

To strengthen the gracilis, sit on your yoga mat in a simple cross-legged position. With a straight back, place one ankle on top of the opposite knee. Stack your shins one on top of the other and extend your feet. Inhale as you lengthen your torso and sit up straight. Exhale, hold the position for up to three minutes -- taking time to inhale -- and then exhale again. Repeat on the other side. Rotate from your hips and not your knees.

Tips and Considerations

Never do these strengthening stretches without warming up first, as sudden lengthening may cause more damage to already tight muscles. A warm-up can include anything that gets your blood flowing in your muscles. As long as you do between five and 15 minutes of moderate physical activity -- such as walking or stair-stepping -- these poses should be safe for you to enter into.

Work these stretches into your daily routine. If you meditate in the morning, sit in the gracilis position. When you are watching TV in the evening, have a friend help you into the hamstring stretch.

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