8 Best Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises at Home

If you want to bolster your hammies without equipment, you can do some bodyweight hamstring exercises at home.

The hamstrings are a group of three muscles: bicep femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus, and they run down the back of the thigh, from hips to knees.

They work with other lower body muscles to perform various activities, from jogging, running, and sprinting to squatting, jumping, and deadlifting.

Strong hamstrings are crucial for athletes and sports professionals because they help you run faster, jump higher, and lift heavier while reducing the chances of injuries.

You may also like: Free 6 Week Bodyweight Training Plan (with PDF)

The 8 Best Hamstring Bodyweight Exercises

There are various exercises you can do to develop your hammies with and without weights. But if you don’t have access to any equipment, you can try some of the following bodyweight hamstring workouts at home.

  1. Slide Leg Exercise
  2. Nordic Hamstring Curl
  3. Standing Hamstring Leg Curl
  4. Hamstring Bridges
  5. 45-Degree Hip Extension
  6. Single-leg Romanian Deadlift
  7. Stationary Lunges
  8. Bulgarian Split Squat

I’ve picked these exercises from a research article published in the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine.

Let’s see how to perform each exercise with the step-by-step guide.

1. Single-Leg Sliding Exercise

Exercise DifficultyMuscles worked
Beginner to IntermediateHamstring, Glute, Adductors, Lower Back

This exercise works best when it comes to activating hamstring muscles such as the bicep femoris and semitendinosus. It also works on the lower back and glutes.

How to:

  1. Start with lying on the floor on your back with your arms at your sides, knees bent, and heels on the slider (that can easily slide over the floor).
  2. While keeping your right heel on the mat, lift your left leg and your pelvis off the floor until your knee, shoulder, and hip come in a straight line.
  3. Now, curl your working leg toward you in a slow and controlled fashion.
  4. Squeezing the hamstring of your left leg, slide forward in a slow and controlled manner until it is straight, and then reverse the move to complete one rep.

Tips: For sliding, you can use anything that can slide on the floor, such as a towel or a piece of a rug.

Suggested reps and sets: Perform ten repetitions on each side for three sets.

2. Nordic Hamstring Curl

Exercise DifficultyMuscles worked
Intermediate Rear Thigh, Lower Back, Hip

The Nordic curl is a great exercise for developing sturdy hams using your body weight only. It is also one of my favorite exercises, as I do it once a week every week.

Studies suggest that Nordic curl bolsters hamstring muscles and helps reduce injuries by up to 51% .1 van Dyk N, Behan FP, Whiteley R. Including the Nordic hamstring exercise in injury prevention programs halves the rate of hamstring injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 8459 athletes. Br J Sports Med. 2019;53(21):1362-1370. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2018-100045

However, to perform this move, you need a partner for assistance.

Note: If you don’t have a partner, no problem. You can still manage to do this without him or hOnlyonly look for something where you can hold your ankles for balance. For example, hook your legs under a bench or loaded barbell.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Begin with kneeling on the mat, your torso upright and forward, and ask your partner to hold your ankles.
  2. Keeping your hips extended, slowly lower your body forward (and toward the ground) as far as possible or until you can no longer go down.
  3. Put your hands out in front of you on the floor when you can’t go down further, pause for a couple of seconds, and then push yourself back to the start. That’s your one rep.
  4. Maintain a neutral spine during the entire movement.

You may find it difficult to perform Nordic curls at first, but remember, if you do only 50 percent of this exercise, you’ll still feel the good contraction in your hammies.

Recommended reps and sets: Go for three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions each.

3. Standing Leg Curl

Exercise DifficultyMuscles worked
Beginner Posterior Thigh, Calves, Glutes

The standing leg curl helps maintain strength and tone your hamstring muscles. It is a less-intense exercise and particularly helpful for those who are recovering from a hamstring injury.

Steps to perform standing leg curl:

  1. Stand upright in the hip-width stance with your hands on your hips.
  2. Slightly bend your right knee and bring your left foot heel toward your buttock as close as possible.
  3. Make sure you squeeze your hamstring muscle when you fully curl and hold for a second or two and then lower your leg to the start. That’s your one rep.
  4. Continue until you do 12 to 15 reps, and then switch to the other leg.

Recommended reps and sets: Do three sets of 12 reps, each set, each leg.

4. Single-Leg Hamstring Bridges

Exercise DifficultyMuscles worked
Beginner Hamtrings, Glutes, Core, Lower Back

The single-leg hamstring bridge is an easy and effective way to strengthen the posterior thigh, improve hip mobility, prop the g, andll as activate core muscles.

It can be an excellent exercise if you feel your one ham is less strong than the other, as it allows you to train one leg at a time and helps even out strength imbalance.

bodyweight hamstring exercises
Bodyweight Hamstring Bridge

Steps to perform single-leg hamstring bridge:

  1. Lie flat on your back and place your feet on an elevated object so your knees are bent to approximately 90 degrees.
  2. Keeping your upper back on the floor, lift your one leg off the bench along with your hips until your knee, hip, and shoulder form a straight line.
  3. At the top, hold for a couple of seconds and then return to the start.

Tips:

  • When you lift your hips, your posterior muscles, such as hamstrings, glutes, and hips, work together and build strength.
  • Do not arch your lower back when you lift your hips.

Suggested reps and sets: Go for three sets of 8 to 10 repetitions each on each side.

5. 45-Degree Hip Extension

Exercise DifficultyMuscles worked
Beginner Posterior Thigh, Glutes, Abs, Lower Back

The hip extension exercises are excellent for strengthening posterior chain muscles, including the hamstrings.

A study has shown that a 45-degree hip extension exercise activates the bicep femoris and can be useful as part of a hamstring injury prevention program.2 Whyte EF, Heneghan B, Feely K, Moran KA, O’Connor S. The Effect of Hip Extension and Nordic Curl Exercise Protocols on Hamstring Strength: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Strength Cond Res. 2021 Oct 1;35(10):2682-2689. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003220. PMID: 31356512.

So doing this exercise with other bodyweight hamstring exercises will help you build strong and defined hammies while decreasing the risk of injuries.

This exercise doesn’t require weight, but it requires a flexible workout bench or a hip-extension machine. In case you don’t have either, you can leave it and perform other exercises.

Steps to perform 45-degree hip extension:

  1. Set the bench to a 45-degree incline height and lie prone with your feet under the pad, hips on edge, and hands crossed on your chest. That’s the start.
  2. Brace your posterior chain muscles and core, and lift your torso up until your hips are extended.
  3. Pause for a moment and then return to the start.

Recommended reps and sets: Aim for three sets of 8 to 10 repetitions each.

6. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Exercise DifficultyMuscles worked
Intermediate Rear Thigh, Glutes, and Lower Back

The single-leg Romanian deadlift is one the best bodyweight exercises to maintain strength and tone the ham muscles. It also improves hip mobility, stability as well as overall balance.

How to:

  1. Start upright with your feet width apart and arms straight at your sides.
  2. Slightly bend your right knee and raise your left leg off the floor behind you as far as possible or until your torso becomes parallel to the ground. Your hands hang straight toward the ground.
  3. Make sure to squeeze your hammies for three-five seconds when your rear leg is fully extended behind you. And then return to the start. That’s one rep.
  4. Maintain a flat back during the entire movement.

Suggested sets and reps: 5 reps with 5 seconds hold x 5 on each side.

7. Stationary Front Lunges

Exercise DifficultyMuscles worked
BeginnerHams, Quads, Glutes
hamstring exercises bodyweight

The lunge is one of the best exercises to build the entire lower body muscles, including the posterior thigh. It has several variations, such as the forward lunge, backward lunge, and lateral lunge, and all of them stimulate the hamstring muscle to some extent.

And if you want to perform the forward lunges, follow these steps:

  1. Stand upright in the split stance, leading with your right foot.
  2. Bend your rear knee toward the ground as low as possible while keeping your left leg shin as vertical as possible to the ground.
  3. Hold in this position for a couple of seconds, and then squeezing your quads, push your heels into the floor to return to the start. This is one rep.

Suggested reps and sets: Aim for three sets of 8 to 10 repetitions each on each side.

8. Bulgarian Split Squat

Exercise DifficultyMuscles worked
Intermediate Posterior Thigh, Quads, Calves, Glutes

The Bulgarian split squat is a great exercise for developing lower body muscles. It fortifies the buttock, thigh, and hamstring all at once, as well as improves balance and hip mobility.

How to do it:

  1. Stand upright in front of a flat bench with your face facing against it, and stand one large step away from the bench. Bench height should be according to your knee height.
  2. Lift your one leg off the ground and place your feet (upper portion) on the bench whilst keeping your other feet firmly on the ground. This is your starting position.
  3. Engaging your leading leg muscles, lower your hips toward the ground until your rear knee come close to the floor or as low as possible.
  4. Pressing into the floor with your leading leg heel, return to the start. That’s your one rep for one leg.

Tips:

  1. If you don’t have a bench at home, use a chair or any elevated object to place your feet on it.
  2. Maintain a neutral spine position throughout the movement.

Suggested reps and sets: 6 reps on each side x 3

Who Can Do Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises?

These bodyweight hamstring exercises are less intense, easy, and safe to perform, so people of all fitness levels can try some of the exercises.

They are highly beneficial for sports and fitness enthusiats because they help boost running, jumping, and lifting performance and minimize the risk of injuries.

So, whether you’re a beginner or intermediate, male or female, you can do these exercises at home without weights.

But, it would be best to avoid them if you have an injury or any kind of physical issues. In this case, you should consult with a medical expert before performing these exercises.

Hamstring Bodyweight Workout Routine Samples

You can try this 30-minute bodyweight hamstring workout routine to add strength and definition to your legs at home.

ExerciseSetsRepsRest between set
Slide Leg Exercise38-101 minute
Nordic Hamstring Curl31260 seconds
Hamstring Bridges31260 seconds
Single-leg Romanian Deadlift3121 minute
Bulgarian Split Squat31560 seconds
Stationary Lunges3151 minute
Bodyweight Hamstring Home workout Routine (train once a week)

It is just a simple hamstring workout routine, so you can make any changes you want depending on your fitness level.

Final Thoughts

The hamstrings are one of the crucial muscles of the lower body. They help bend and extend your knees and are responsible for various lower body activities, from walking to sprinting.

There are various exercises you can do to develop your hammies with and without weights. But if you don’t have access to gym equipment, you can try some of the above bodyweight hamstring exercises at home.

They hit your rear thigh muscles from multiple angles and build strong rear thighs while decreasing the risk of injuries.

Strong hamstrings allow you to run faster, jump higher, lift safely, and provide strength to your other lower body muscles.

Related Exercises:

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Author
Murshid Akram
I'm a certified personal trainer, fitness blogger, and nature lover. I always learn more about exercise science and human anatomy so that I can provide the best information possible. I share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you achieve your desired fitness goal.

1 thought on “8 Best Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises at Home”

  1. Dear Murshid Akram

    I have just started on my road to fitness and have found your information and leadership inspirational and encouraging. I am starting out with your body weight program and hope to add cardio as I go along.

    Thank you so much
    Catherine Eves

    Reply

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