Skiers, runners, bikers, and swimmers can all benefit from doing exercises that target muscles on the backs of the thighs, since strong hamstrings increase speed and endurance. And that's not all: toned hamstrings also make for shapely legs. Here are three exercises that are dedicated to that area; repeat all three moves for a total of three rounds for an effective hamstring workout.
Bridge Single-Leg Lifts
- Lie on your back and place an exercise ball under your calves. Place your hands on the floor for stability as you lift your bum off the ground.
- Hold the ball steady with your left leg as you lift your right leg off the ball. Then lower it towards the ball, but don't let it touch, then lift your leg again. Keep both legs straight as you repeat lifting and lowering 10 to 15 times.
- Then lower your right leg to the ball and do the leg lifts with your left leg.
Read on for the rest of the workout.
- Holding the barbell (or two dumbbells at your side), keep your arms straight and knees slightly bent.
- Slowly bend at your hip joint, not your waist, and lower the weights as far as possible without rounding your back, which should remain straight. Make sure you keep your spine neutral with a natural low-back arch, with shoulders down. Looking forward, not at the ground, will help you avoid rounding your back.
- Keep the barbell close to your legs, almost touching them.
- Squeeze your glutes to pull yourself up at a quicker pace than it took to bend down (beginners should take four seconds to bend down and two seconds to pull up). Don't use your back and do not round your spine.
- You should be using a weight that allows you to do three sets of 12 to 15 reps before fatiguing your muscles — but remember that you should be able to still do the move correctly on your last rep.
Elbow Plank With Donkey Kick
- Begin in an elbow plank with elbows directly under shoulders, abs engaged toward the spine. Don't let the pelvis sag down or pop up.
- Lift right leg off the ground, bending your knee so the sole of your foot is toward the ceiling. Keep pelvis square to the floor. Don't let your pelvis twist.
- Press your right heel towards ceiling as high as you can without moving pelvis or low back. The motion will not be huge, but concentrated on the booty and hamstring.
- Lower the bent leg slightly and repeat for a total of eight to 10 repetitions. Then switch sides.