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6 Best Exercises for Stronger Hamstrings

Only a handful of gym-goers get excited about leg day. And then, on leg days, only a few of them will train their hamstrings. Admittedly, quads don’t get the same love that chest muscles get, but for unknown reasons, the hamstrings get even less – it’s like they always receive the short end of the stick in terms of building leg strength and size. And that’s really a shame, because the hamstrings are kind of like the triceps of the legs in the way their development holds the key to building truly big, powerful and sculpted legs.

The most important function of the hams is hip extension, which as you can guess, is vital for explosiveness, sprinting, jumping and overall pelvic mobility, but they also play an important role in stabilizing the knee joint, so it’s easy to understand how a pair weak, underdeveloped hams will diminish the effectiveness of your leg training, make you look like a novice and leave you at risk for imbalance and injury.

If you’ve been slacking on your hamstring training or your posterior chain could use some extra activation, here are 6 moves that will help you bring up your hams and develop a truly strong, well-developed backside!

1. Romanian Deadlifts: 4 x 6-8

Romanian deadlifts are one of the most effective and most overlooked hip-dominant exercises for training your legs, especially the hamstrings that can actually give you much of the full-body benefits as squatting.

The hamstrings are primarily made up of fast-twitch muscle fibers, which cannot be trained with leg curls. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are best trained with higher intensity levels, and since unlike leg curls romanian deadlifts allow you to use heavy weights, this exercise works great for overloading the hams. Also, RDLs are an important functional exercise that will improve your hip extension and strengthen your posterior chain.

2. Bulgarian Split Squat 4 x 6-8

The Bulgarian split squat is becoming more and more popular among high-level strength and conditioning coaches, and for good reason.

Research shows it’s fantastic for building leg (and hamstring, in particular) strength while also minimizing strain on the lower back.

 3. Barbell Hip Thrust 4 x 6-8

Hip thrusts are the best way to get a heavy hip without large amounts of stress on the lower back. These can be a saving grace while you’re recovering from an injury. Sure, primarily they’re meant to target the glutes, but the hamstrings’ contribution is just as important to making the lift successful.

4. Glute-Ham Raise 4 x 6-8

This exercise may look easy but when it’s done properly, it’s a hamstring killer.

(In fact, research shows it’s one of the best exercises you can do for activating the hamstring muscles.)

5. Good Mornings  4 x 6-8

Good mornings start like a squat but act like a Romanian deadlift. This is another great exercise for the whole posterior chain.

keep your head up and your back completely straight. Bend at your waist with your knees locked but slightly bent. Ideally you will bend until your upper body is parallel to the floor, but this is not always possible for novice lifters. Return slowly to the upper position. Work on your form in order to bend over further while keeping your head up and back straight.

6. Single-Leg Stiff-Leg Deadlifts  4 x 6-8

It's easy to focus on bilateral movements and forget you have two hamstrings. Single Leg Stiff-Leg Deadlifts help you make sure that each leg individually has strong hamstrings. If you have any imbalances or weaknesses, rest assured this exercise will expose them.