5 Exercises for Stronger Hamstrings — No Deadlifts Required

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You don't need deadlifts to make your hamstrings stronger with these moves.
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There's no shortage of benefits to deadlifts. This move strengthens your core, legs, glutes and even your back. But even the most avid weight-lifter will admit that there's only so many times you can perform this exercise in one week without feeling achy, especially in the lower back.

When you need a deadlift alternative, give one of these five at-home hamstring exercises a try, courtesy of Ridge Davis, NCSF-certified trainer and creator of Ridgid Bootcamp. Your hamstrings and lower back will thank you!

1. Lying Sliding Hamstring Curl

1. Lying Sliding Hamstring Curl
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Ridge Davis
Skill Level All Levels
Body Part Legs
Impact Level Low-Impact
  1. Start lying on the ground face-up with a towel beneath both of your feet.
  2. Keeping your body as straight as possible, press into your heels and raise your hips toward the ceiling, arms at your sides.
  3. With your heels on the towel, glide your feet out away from your body, keeping the hips raised.
  4. Then, reverse the motion and pull the heels toward your glutes.

Tip

The goal is to keep your hips lifted throughout the entire movement, Davis says. Your hips will want to drop while the heels drive in, so don't let that happen.

2. Quadruped Mini Band Leg Curl

2. Quadruped Mini Band Leg Curl
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Ridge Davis
Skill Level All Levels
Body Part Legs
Impact Level Low-Impact
  1. Loop a light resistance band around your toes and come onto all fours, hands in line with your shoulders, knees in line with the hips.
  2. Kick your right leg back behind you until the leg is straight. This is the starting position.
  3. Bend the right knee, raising the bottom of your foot toward the ceiling.
  4. Pause here for a moment.
  5. Then, straighten the right leg.
  6. Once you finish all your reps on the right leg, switch sides.

3. Single-Leg Glute Bridge

3. Single-Leg Glute Bridge
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Ridge Davis
Skill Level All Levels
Body Part Butt and Legs
Impact Level Low-Impact
  1. Start by lying on the floor face-up with your feet flat on the ground and knees bent.
  2. With arms at your sides, raise your right leg off the ground, pointing it straight up (you can also pull the knee into your chest). This is your starting position.
  3. Press into your left heel and drive the hips up toward the ceiling, raising your glutes off the ground.
  4. Extend as far as possible and pause for a moment.
  5. Then, reverse the motion and return to the starting position.
  6. Once you complete all your reps on one side, repeat on the opposite side.

Tip

To make this deadlift alternative more challenging, place your stationary foot on an elevated surface, Davis says. This will give the exercise a wider range of motion and force you to recruit more muscle.

4. Dumbbell Donkey Kickback

4. Dumbbell Donkey Kickback
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Ridge Davis
Skill Level All Levels
Body Part Butt and Legs
Impact Level Low-Impact
  1. Start kneeling on all fours, hands in line with your shoulders and knees in line with the hips. Keep your core engaged and back flat.
  2. Place a light-weight dumbbell behind your right knee and squeeze it in place.
  3. Kick your knee up toward the ceiling, keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees.
  4. Raise the heel up toward the sky as far as you can go without arching your lower back.
  5. Reverse the motion slowly, bringing the knee to the ground.
  6. Once you finish all your reps on the right leg, repeat on the left.

Tip

No dumbbells? No problem! Try one of these creative at-home dumbbell alternatives.

5. Reverse Plank

5. Reverse Plank
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Ridge Davis
Skill Level All Levels
Body Part Back and Legs
Impact Level Low-Impact
  1. Start sitting on the floor with your legs extended, feet hip-width apart.
  2. Place your hands on the ground behind your glutes, keeping your back tall.
  3. Lift the hips off the ground, keeping your neck neutral and core engaged.
  4. Hold this position by squeezing the glutes and keeping the hips lifted.


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