Anyone looking for an easy and effective way to improve hamstrings strength and flexibility can try isometric exercises.
Isometric is a low-intensity exercise training that helps develop and regain your strength and increase muscle endurance.
Hamstrings are made of three muscles: bicep femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus.1 Anatomy, Bony Pelvis, and Lower Limb, Hamstring Muscle – Stat Pearls All these muscles form the rear thigh and work with muscle groups to perform various activities, from walking and running to lifting weights and jumping high.
So, training them through various ways to develop strong and flexible hamstrings is crucial.
In this article, I’ve shared the 5 best isometric hamstring exercises you can integrate into your strength and rehabilitation workout program to enhance your hammies’ health and reduce the risk of injuries.
5 Best Isometric Exercises for Hamstrings
Here are all the isometric hamstring exercises you can do at home without equipment. All they require is your body weight and a little space where you can lie down.
- Standing Iso Leg Curl
- Isometric Hamstring Bridge
- Single-Leg Iso Deadlift
- Lying isometric Leg Curl
- Elevated Isometric Bridge
Note: If you’ve hamstring injuries, consult your doctor before performing any exercise mentioned above.
1. Standing Iso Leg Curl
The standing leg curl engages the hamstrings muscles and stretches the quadriceps.
It is an excellent exercise to perform before running, lifting, or hopping because it can minimize the risk of strains and help you perform better.
You can also use it to rebuild your hammies strength.
How-to: Stand upright against the wall and place your hands on it for support (you can also do it without the wall support). Flex your right leg until you feel the contraction in your hamstrings. Pause for five to ten seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
Exercise Tips: Do not let your knee pass over your hips at any time during the movement. You can do that by keeping your knee below or a bit behind your hip.
Suggested repetitions: You can perform as many repetitions as you like.
2. One-Leg Isometric Bridge
The single-leg bridge is an excellent exercise to isolate the hamstrings and glutes. It also increases hip mobility, strengthens the lower back, and improves the overall posterior chain muscles.
You can perform this exercise at any time, before or after the training. Doing it consistently will improve balance and flexibility in your lower body and lessen the chances of injuries.
- Lie down on your back and keep your knees bent, feet flat on the floor (underneath your knees), and arms straight at your sides.
- Keeping your right foot on the ground, lift your hips off the floor and extend your left leg until your shoulder, hips, and knees are in a straight line.
- Pause for five to ten seconds, then return to the start and repeat on the other side.
Exercise Tips: Keep your abdominal muscles tight throughout the movement. You can also place your left leg over your right knee.
Suggested repetitions: Shoot for five to six repetitions on each side.
3. Single-Leg Iso Deadlift
The single-leg isometric deadlift is a compound movement that activates the semitendinosus, biceps femoris, and glutes medius.2Diamant W, Geisler S, Havers T, Knicker A. Comparison of EMG Activity between Single-Leg Deadlift and Bilateral Deadlift in Trained Amateur Athletes – An Empirical Analysis. Int J Exerc Sci. 2021;14(1):187-201. Published 2021 Apr 1.
It helps improve balance and flexibility, build firm legs, as well as help lower the risk of spinal and hamstring injuries.
- Standing on your left leg with the knee slightly bent, lift your right leg off the floor and move your torso forward simultaneously until they are parallel to the floor.
- Brace your core, maintain a neutral spine, and hold in that position for as long as possible.
- Return and repeat on the opposite side when you no longer stand in that position.
Exercise Tips: Do not let your thighs and core muscles lose; it can prevent you from standing on one leg. Keep them engaged throughout the movement to get the full benefits.
You can also perform assisted single-leg deadlift with the support of a stand, bench, or chair.
Suggested repetitions: Five to six times on each side. Perform more on the weaker side.
4. Lying Isometric Hamstring Curl
Lying leg curl is an isolation exercise that primarily engages hamstrings muscles and strengthens the thigh.
The best thing about this exercise is that it puts less stress on the lower back and is done while lying on the floor.
How-to: Lie prone on the floor with your face down. Bend your arms and keep them on the floor underneath your face. Flex your knees until you feel the activation in your hammies. Pause for ten seconds, then extend your legs to the starting point.
You can also perform unilateral leg curls to work more on your inferior side and even out strength imbalance.
Exercise Tips: If you want to bolster your hammies, you can perform lying leg curls with dumbbells or resistance bands because bodyweight variation is only helpful for rehabilitation purposes.
Suggested repetitions: Perform as many repetitions as needed.
5. Elevated Isometric Hamstring Bridge
A study has shown that an elevated hamstring bridge is one of the best bodyweight hamstring exercises to strengthen the semitendinosus and biceps femoris.3 Tsaklis, Panagiotis et al. “Muscle and intensity based hamstring exercise classification in elite female track and field athletes: implications for exercise selection during rehabilitation.” Open access journal of sports medicine vol. 6 209-17. 26 Jun. 2015, doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S79189
It also engages the abs, glutes, and lower back and improves performance where hams involve while minimizing the risk of injury.
The isometric hamstring bridge can also be integrated into a rehabilitation program to regain hamstring strength.
How-to: Start by lying on your back with arms straight by your sides, knees bent, and heels on the bed/bench/chair. Lift your hips off the floor until your knees, hips, and shoulders are aligned. Hold there for five to 10 seconds, then return to the start.
Exercise Tips: Maintain a tight core throughout the movement and focus on engaging your hamstring muscles.
Recommended Reps: Perform as many reps as you like.
Isometric Hamstring Exercises PDF
Are Isometrics Good for Hamstrings?
Isometric exercises are an effective way to improve hamstring strength and flexibility. They are also used for rehabilitation.
You can also perform weighted isometric exercises to increase hamstring muscle endurance and promote hypertrophy.
How Often Can You Do Isometric Exercises?
Isometric is a low-intensity exercise training you can do every alternate day. However, be careful with how much you do. If you feel sore, decrease the frequency or discontinue.
- 1Anatomy, Bony Pelvis, and Lower Limb, Hamstring Muscle – Stat Pearls
- 2Diamant W, Geisler S, Havers T, Knicker A. Comparison of EMG Activity between Single-Leg Deadlift and Bilateral Deadlift in Trained Amateur Athletes – An Empirical Analysis. Int J Exerc Sci. 2021;14(1):187-201. Published 2021 Apr 1.
- 3Tsaklis, Panagiotis et al. “Muscle and intensity based hamstring exercise classification in elite female track and field athletes: implications for exercise selection during rehabilitation.” Open access journal of sports medicine vol. 6 209-17. 26 Jun. 2015, doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S79189