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Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises

author image Jen Weir
Jen Weir writes for several websites, specializing in the health and fitness field. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Montana State University, is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and maintains a personal trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine.
Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises
A woman is doing a lunge on a beach. Photo Credit: Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

You don't need a gym membership or your own expensive equipment to develop strength and muscular endurance anywhere on your body. For example, body-weight exercises can efficiently target the hamstring muscles, located on the backs of the thighs. Perform two to three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions to get the best results.

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Hamstring Curl

The hamstring curl strengthens your hamstring muscles while gently stretching the quadriceps. Stand with your feet slightly apart and grab a wall or sturdy chair for balance. Contract your abdominal muscles and stand with your torso erect. Transfer your weight to your left foot and then slowly lift your right heel toward your glutes by contracting your hamstring and bending your knee. Pause at the top of the movement and then, with control, lower your foot back to the floor. Complete the desired number of reps and then perform the curl with your left leg.

You can also perform this exercise lying down. Lie face down on the floor with your legs extended. Slowly bring your right heel toward your glutes, pause, and then lower back down. Repeat the exercise with your left leg.

Reverse Plank

The reverse plank isolates the hamstrings and glutes while strengthening your abdominal muscles. Sit on the floor with your legs extended to the front and your toes pointing up. Place your hands on the floor on either side of your hips with your fingers pointing to the front. Stabilize your core and push your heels and hands into the floor. While you maintain this position, slowly lift your butt off the floor to straighten your hips. Allow your toes to move forward with each lift. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and then return to the floor.

Air Squat

Air squats work the majority of the lower body muscles, including the hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward or slightly out. Stabilize your abdominal muscles and straighten your back. Position your arms to the front to use them for balance. Slowly bend your hips and knees to lower into a squat position, keeping your torso erect. Push through your heels to straighten your legs and return to the starting position.

Floor Hip Extension

The hip extension targets the hamstrings and the gluteus maximus muscles. Begin on all fours with your elbows directly below your shoulders and supporting your upper body. Your knees should be aligned directly below your hips. Pull your belly button into your spine and stabilize your core muscles. Extend your right leg straight behind you. Keeping your leg straight, lift it as high as possible without twisting your hips. Pause at the top of the movement and then lower your leg back to the floor. Complete the desired number of reps and then switch to your left leg.

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