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Hamstring Strengthening Exercises


At-Home Hamstring Strengthening Exercises

You don’t have to commit to an expensive gym contract to get in good hamstring strengthening exercises. While weight and the various equipment found in a gym setting are no doubt beneficial to bettering one’s health, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get a good workout in the privacy of your own home. The key to seeing an improvement in your muscle tone is to understand how the muscles work. What we commonly refer to as the hamstrings is actually a trio of muscles or tendons that are found in the back of the thigh, just above the knee. The hamstrings are crucial in helping us walk and run, so strengthening this area will definitely prove beneficial.

The first of our hamstring strengthening exercises is called the walking lunge. You don’t need any accessories to do this exercise, although small dumbbells in each hand would aid in strengthening your upper arms as well. Begin in an upright standing position. Move one leg forward as if you were going to take a step, but instead of keeping your legs straight, allow your knees to bend so that you appear to be kneeling in what I like to call the “will-you-marry-me” pose, only you don’t want to make knee-to-floor contact. Hold this position for a few seconds before standing straight again. It’s important that you push off with your back leg and move forward so that you can move straight into the next lunge.

This next exercise, the hamstring curl, requires an exercise ball (or something of equal size and rolling ability). Lie on the floor with your back straight and your face looking toward the ceiling. Prop your outstretched legs on the exercise ball. When you’re ready to start thrust your pelvis upward so that your upper back and shoulders remain on the floor but your lower back and pelvis are elevated. Use your legs to roll the ball inward. Your goal is to create a rough 45 degree angle with the back of your legs. Repeat this about twelve times for the first few days, then increase the reps when you feel your body is ready for more of a challenge.

Wall sits are an exercise that I always associate with punishment for fooling around in gym class, but they really are an excellent workout for your hamstrings, not to mention your butt! –And the best part is that you don’t need anything other than a wall and non-slip shoes. Stand with your back against the wall. Position your feet about a foot away from the wall and spread them until they are shoulder-width apart. Let your body drop until your back and thighs create a 90 degree angle—like you’re sitting in a chair. Hold this for a count of five seconds, then push yourself back up the wall. Repeat this ten times, then increase the number as you need to.

Another no-accessory exercise is kickback. You’ll need to get down on all fours, so a gym mat or carpeting might save your knees a little hassle. Spread your hands so they are shoulder width apart. Your knees shouldn’t be directly under your pelvis, but slightly behind. Lift one leg behind you, towards the ceiling as high as you can get it (like a horse kicking something really high). Bring your knee back downward, but don’t allow it to have contact with the floor before repeating the movement. Do ten reps for each leg, then increase the number as necessary.

There is no doubt that you can find success with these hamstring strengthening exercises as long as you stick to a good routine. If you are somewhat a newbie to exercising, you might want to perform this set of exercises twice a week until your body gets used to the workout. Once you feel comfortable with this—or start feeling less of a “burn” when you exercise—try bumping your routine up to three or four times a week until you get the results you want. Good luck!


 


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