Recently joining a beginners class in Olympic Weightlifting, I was eager to improve my posture and form after years of feeling like my lifts were lethargic and anything but textbook. At 6’ 4”, I often struggle with maintaining proper form and achieving efficient weightlifting movements. I’m not alone. Tall individuals often face these challenges due to longer limb length and the associated limitations in their hip flexors and hamstring mobility. Fortunately, the banded supine hamstring stretch is a great way to improve our ability to squat down to the barbell, no matter our height.

Being vertically gifted is usually pretty sweet. You never get lost in a crowd and you can reach products on those hard-to-reach shelves, but when it comes to getting down low, like really low, being tall can be a bit of a burden. Long femurs (thigh bones) mean that some serious mobility is required to achieve an appropriate amount of squat depth needed to meet the barbell and then raise it skywards. Practicing this Banded Supine Hamstring Stretch variation will help you to make progress in this area however, and will also allow you to stay in this position for longer periods of time. For those wondering; ‘supine’ means to lie on the back with face upwards. Here’s how the stretch works.

How to do the Supine Hamstring Stretch with a Band

  1. Lie on the floor, on your back with face upwards
  2. Attach a resistance band around the arch of one foot
  3. Keep your leg straight and use your hands to lift the banded leg upwards
  4. Pull the band until you feel a gentle stretch your hamstring (behind the thigh and at the back of the knee). Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute at a level of tension that is comfortable for you
  5. Repeat with the other leg

Executing this exercise 2-3 times per week will improve hamstring flexibility. Be sure to perform each stretch consistently without jerking or bouncing, as this could lead to pulls and injuries. Pro tip: try to keep your stretched leg straight by squeezing on your quadriceps. You could even perform this stretch as part of your weightlifting warmup, with research showing that 10 minutes of stretching and warming up before weightlifting improved stability and balance in sessions.

At the lowest part of an Olympic lift such as the clean and jerk, squatting down to reach the barbell often causes some discomfort as the hamstrings start to shake and hip flexors begin to buckle. Working with this particular stretch will help to condition these areas to become more mobile and flexible meaning that you can squat lower, for longer — making for a more decent lift. While this will highly benefit tall people, the banded supine hamstring stretch can be practiced by anyone who wants to improve their lifting posture.