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Workout Routines

The Best Hamstrings Workout for Beginners

They may not be glamor muscles like biceps or abs, but your hamstrings are probably one of the most all-important muscle groups a lifter could ever call upon. (Plus, they make your jeans look way better.) Here’s the ideal hamstring workout for a novice.

Hero Images / Getty
45 min Duration
6 Exercises
Yes Equipment

Most of us have tight hamstrings from hours of sitting at a desk, navigating behind a steering wheel, or wedging ourselves into an airline seat.

That’s a dangerous problem, because tightness locks up our hip flexors, shuts down our glutes, and makes the hamstrings less efficient. Tight hamstrings are a product of tight hips, which are a product of inactivated glutes. That’s one reason hamstring strains and lower-back pain are so commonplace these days.

For example: People who take up running after long periods of inactivity often have hamstring issues since their hammies are in no position to execute the long, fluid strides necessary for proper running. The same is true in the weight room, in which we’re calling upon our hamstrings to execute challenging movements like deadlifts. Without fully functioning hamstrings, we’re not going to get the benefits of many of these moves, at the very least. We’re also more likely to suffer injury.

Admittedly, hamstrings aren’t very sexy. Rarely does someone admire a set of hammies the way they lust after shoulders, arms, quads, and calves. But without strong and flexible hamstrings you’re going to have a tougher time developing pretty much anything else.

DIRECTIONS

To work the hamstrings you’ll need to address them both directly while also targeting the glutes. We’re going to perform this beginner hamstrings workout with three sets of these six exercises performed in a circuit to loosen those hamstrings and strengthen your posterior chain.

Exercise 1

Handwalk
3 sets
10 reps
-- rest
Start with legs straight and hands on the floor. Keeping the legs straight, walk your hands out. Then walk your feet back up to your hands, keeping your legs straight. Take baby steps using only the ankles. Avoid using the hips, knees, and quads.

Exercise 2

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
3 sets
10 per leg reps
-- rest
Balance on right foot, keeping abs tight and shoulders back and down. Bend at waist with both hands out to the sides and extend left leg back as you fire left glute. Shoulder and heel should move together, forming straight line. Return to start position.

Exercise 3

Sumo Squat to Stand You'll need: No Equipment How to
3 sets
10 reps
-- rest
Bend at waist, grabbing underneath big toes. Keeping arms straight inside knees, pull hips down until they’re between ankles and lift chest up. Tuck chin and straighten legs, holding on to toes as you straighten the hips and knees.

Exercise 4

Swiss Ball Leg Curl
3 sets
10 reps
-- rest
Lying face-up on floor, put hands on physio ball, pulling toes toward shins. Squeeze your glutes until body is in a straight line from ankle to shoulder. Keeping hips raised, pull heels in toward glutes. Let ball roll back slowly as you straighten legs.

Exercise 5

Romanian Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
3 sets
10 reps
-- rest
Start with a lower weight and work up. Form is especially key to getting full benefit from the RDL; don’t think of the exercise as bending forward but rather as sitting back with your torso moving forward instead of staying upright.

Exercise 6

Bent-over Single-arm, Single-leg Row
3 sets
10 reps
-- rest
Extend the corresponding leg of your lifting hand back behind you. This not only challenges you to work each side independently, as with a traditional one-arm row, but also work hamstrings while inevitably lowering the dumbbell deeper.

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