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5 Best Hamstring Exercises (10-Minute Hamstring Workout)

The best hamstring exercises to strengthen your legs. Deadlifts, modified hip thrusts, hamstring curls and swings – these are the 5 best dumbbell hamstring exercises at home or at the gym. Add these exercises to your next leg day, or complete this 10-Minute Hamstring Workout as a quick burn on its own.

When it comes to the legs, the glutes tend to get most of the focus. But there’s another important (and often overlooked) muscle group that is equally important: the hamstrings.

Enter today’s workout: the five best hamstring exercises at home. Use it as a finisher for your leg day workout or as a quick and efficient leg workout on its own.

Grab your heavy dumbbells – the hamstrings are big, powerful muscles and a great place to try increasing your weights. This is a naturally low impact workout that is ALL strength training, focused on the muscles in the back of the legs.

Your hamstrings are a key part of functional daily movement, assisting with tasks like bending your knees and extending your hips.

The hamstrings and glutes also work together to add explosive power to your workouts. That means training your hamstrings is especially important for runners and HIIT-lovers.

Woman performing a single leg deadlift as part of hamstring exercises roudnup

Hamstring Exercises FAQs

What Is The Best Workout For Hamstrings?

End your leg day with hamstring isolation exercises (like the ones in this workout) to build definition and strength in the back of your legs.

What Are The Best Exercises for Hamstrings?

The best hamstring exercises include deadlifts, good mornings, hip thrusts, dumbbell or kettlebell swings, and hamstring curls. These exercises strengthen the hamstring muscles from multiple angles.

What Are Benefits Of Having Strong Hamstrings?

The hamstrings’ most basic function is hip extension and knee flexion. The hamstrings are vital for power moves, such as sprints or jumps. Strong hamstrings allow you to accelerate and add explosive power to your movements.

What Muscles Make Up The Hamstrings?

The semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris muscles make up the hamstring muscle group. The hamstring muscles run along the backs of your legs, from the hip to just below the knee.

woman performing hamstring curl on an exercise ball as part of hamstring exercise workout

5 Hamstring Exercises At Home

Build definition in the back of the legs with this quick and effective hamstring workout: the best hamstring exercises!

A focused hamstring workout designed to strengthen the hamstrings and add power to your daily movements.

Add this hamstring burnout to your home workout plan 1-2 times per week to build and maintain strength in the lower body.

Workout Equipment:

Medium Set of Dumbbells. Option to add an exercise ball for hamstring curls.

I recommend between 5-25 lb dumbbells depending on your fitness level. We used 10, 15 and 20 lb dumbbells in today’s workout. Option to drop weights at any time and do this workout with just your bodyweight.

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woman performing hamstring curls as part of hamstring workout at home

Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided Hamstring Workout on YouTubeled by certified personal trainer, Lindsey Bomgren. 

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 5 Hamstring Exercises
  • Timed Intervals (40 seconds of work, 20 seconds rest; complete as many repetitions as you can in the timed interval)
  • Repeat All 5 Hamstring Exercises x2 Sets

Note: this quick workout doesn’t include a warm-up or cool down. If this is your first movement of the day, warm up with this 5-minute warm up and cool down with this lower body-focused stretching video.

Workout Outline

  1. Romanian Deadlift (RDL)
  2. Rear Foot Elevated Single Leg Deadlift
  3. Staggered Hip Thrust
  4. Hamstring Curl
  5. Dumbbell Swings
woman performing dumbbell swings to work hamstrings

Prefer to Watch On YouTube?

youtube icon Hamstring Workout

5 Hamstring Exercises

Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

Targets: The posterior chain muscles, including the erector spinae, gluteus maximus, hamstrings and adductors.

The difference between a Romanian Deadlift (RDL) and Conventional Deadlift has to do with where the weights start. Romanian Deadlifts begin from a standing position and move through an “eccentric” or downward range of motion. Whereas a standard deadlift begins with the weights on the floor and moves through a “concentric” or upward motion.

two women performing standard deadlifts as part of hamstring exercises workout

How To Do A Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

  1. Start in a standing position with feet hip-width apart, holding one dumbbell in each hand with your grip just outside your legs (overhand grip).
  2. Stand tall with a flat back and neutral spine. Your shoulders should be back and down.
  3. With knees bent, hinge at your hips. Think of pressing your hips back towards the wall behind you, as you lower the dumbbells down the front of your legs. The dumbbells should remain in contact with your legs for the entire range of motion.
  4. Once you’ve reached the bottom (range of motion looks different for everyone), drive through your heels, squeezing your glutes and hamstrings to push your hips forward and return to the starting position.

Rear Foot Elevated Single Leg Deadlift

Targets: Hamstrings, gluteus maximus and core.

Elevating the rear foot shifts the focus more into the hamstrings. And single leg exercises increase core engagement.

two women performing rear foot elevated deadlifts as part of best hamstring exercises workout

How To Do A Rear Foot Elevated Single Leg Deadlift

  1. Start standing in front of a bench or chair, holding a dumbbell in your left hand. Place your left foot behind you on the bench, shoelaces down.
  2. Keeping hips square, press your glutes back towards the wall behind you, hinging at the hips and gliding the dumbbell down your front leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your right leg. Range of motion will be different for everyone.
  3. Exhale as you press through your front heel and stand tall, returning to starting position.

Modification: Perform a staggered deadlift with both feet flat on the floor, feet shoulder width apart. Keep 80% of your weight in your front heel and 20% in your back toe.

Staggered Hip Thrust

Targets: Glutes (both the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius), hamstrings and hip adductors.

two women performing long hip thrusts to target hamstrings

How To Do A Staggered Hip Thrust

  1. Sit in front of a bench or chair, then rest your upper back on a bench. Hold one dumbbell at your hips, resting on your hip bones.
  2. Start with feet hip width apart, then stagger your feet so your right leg is slightly in front of your left foot. Kickstand your front right foot, left heel flat on the ground. Keep 80% of your weight in your left foot, 20% in your front right heel.
  3. Press through the heels to lift your hips (or thrust your hips) until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Squeeze your glutes and keep your abs drawn in so you don’t overextend your back during the exercise.
  4. Hold at the top of the hip thrust for a moment before lowering your hips back to the starting position with control.

Modification: Perform a long staggered glute bridge, laying with your back on the floor and placing the heels of your feet out of reach of your finger tips. Stagger your feet so the right foot is in front of the left, most of your weight in your right heel.

Hamstring Curl

Targets: Glutes (gluteus medius) and hamstrings.

This move replaces the leg curl machine you would find at a conventional gym. You can engage the same muscles by performing a hamstring walk-out as well (following the modifier).

Two women lying on their backs performing hamstring curls

How To Do A Hamstring Curl

  1. Lie flat on your back, placing the backs of your calves and heels on the top of a stability ball, toes pointing up towards the ceiling. Inhale to brace your core, then squeeze your glutes to lift your hips off the ground.
  2. Exhale as you slowly pull your heels in towards your hips, bending your knees and contracting your hamstrings to move the exercise ball towards your glutes. Toes move from pointing towards the ceiling to facing the opposite wall (heels flat on the exercise ball). Focus on keeping your hips even.
  3. With control, reverse the movement to roll the ball away from your body, lengthening through the backs of your legs. Keep your hips elevated through the entire movement.

Modification: Perform a hamstring walkout from the floor. Start lying on your back in a glute bridge positon, heels planted, knees bent at 90 degrees, hips lifted off the mat. Slowly “walk” your heels out away from your body, feeling a stretch in the backs of your legs. Then walk them back in, returning to starting position.

Dumbbell Swings

Targets:  Glutes, hamstrings, hips, core, and all the stabilizing muscles in your back and shoulders.

The kettlebell swing is a popular glutes and hamstrings exercise, but can easily be done with a single dumbbell as well. A dynamic exercise that will build strength and raise your heart rate.

two women performing dumbbell swings to target hamstrings and glutes

How To Do A Dumbell Swing

  1. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, holding a single dumbbell vertically between your hands.
  2. With a slight bend in your knees and weight in your heels, ‘hike’ the dumbbell back between your legs to start the swing movement.
  3. Drive through your heels to stand tall, pushing your hips forward as you squeeze your glutes to swing the dumbbell up. Aim for shoulder height, with arms extended out away from the body. Think long, loose arms (your arms are just a vehicle for moving the weight, your hips and glutes generate the power).
  4. As the dumbbell begins to descend, think of catching the weight with a hip hinge, loading the glutes and hamstrings.

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