8 Best Kettlebell Hamstring Exercises to Build Sturdy Legs

Kettlebell Hamstring Exercises

Whether you’re an athlete or a typical fitness enthusiast, you can do various hamstring exercises with kettlebells to improve strength, balance, and flexibility in your posterior chain muscles and build up firm legs.

The hamstring is one of the crucial lower body muscles located on the back of your thighs, which runs down from the glutes to the knees. It has three muscles, semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris.1 Muscles in the Posterior Compartment of the Thigh– Teach Me Anatomy

To build muscular hammies and reduce the risk of injuries, you need to strengthen each of these muscles.

In this article, I’ve shared the 8 best kettlebell hamstring exercises that target the hammies from every angle and help develop an athletic and firm lower body.

Kettlebells provide a great range of motion, allow you to perform unilateral and bilateral exercises, help target hamstrings in multiple ways, and enhance strength, mobility, and flexibility.

8 Best Kettlebell Hamstring Exercises to Build Firm Legs

Kettlebell Hamstring Workouts
KB Hamstring Workout

Here’s a quick list of all kettlebell exercises for hamstring development.

  1. Good Morning
  2. Romanian Deadlift
  3. Single-Leg Deadlift
  4. Unilateral Leg Curl
  5. Single-Leg Hip Thrust
  6. Russian Kettlebell Swing
  7. Stiff-Legged KB Deadlift
  8. KB Hamstring March

Whether you’re a beginner or intermediate, male or female, you can integrate these KB hamstring exercises into your training program to level up your squatting, jumping, running, and deadlifting.

Let’s see more about each exercise and how to do them with the step-by-step guide.

1. Kettlebell Good Morning

The Good Morning is a strength and conditioning exercise that works on the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

It provides full stretch to the hamstring muscles, increases strength and mobility, and reduces the risk of injuries.

Steps to do a Good Morning:

  1. Standing in the hip-width stance, pick a kettlebell with a crush grip, and hold it in front of your chest with your elbows bent and pointing downward. That’s the start.
  2. Brace your core, hips, and thighs, and keep your back straight.
  3. Slightly bend your knees and slowly lean your torso forward until it parallels the floor.
  4. Stay in that position for a couple of seconds, and then pressing into the floor through your heels, return into the standing position until your hips come forward. That’s one rep.
  5. You’ll feel the contraction in your hamstrings when you extend your hips forward.
  6. Suggested sets and reps: three sets with 6 to eight reps each.

You can also do good morning by keeping the KB behind your head. You’ll grip the KB handle behind your neck so your elbows point forward in this movement.

2. Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift

Hamstring deadlift

The RDL provides a deep stretch to the hamstrings when you lower the weight and decent contraction when you return to the standing position. The combination of stretch and contraction leads to greater muscle activation that helps improve strength and size.2 Muscle activation during various hamstring exercises – Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

Steps to do a Romanian deadlift:

  1. Pick a kettlebell and stand upright with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Keep your arms straight so the KB is between your thighs and your palms.
  3. Pushing your hips back, lower the KB as far as possible with a slight bend in your knees.
  4. Pushing your heels into the floor, thrust your hips forward to return to the starting position. That is your one rep!

3. Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlift

The kettlebell one-leg deadlift is a unilateral exercise that strengthens hamstring muscles and improves flexibility and balance.

It also allows you to focus more on your weaker leg and helps improve strength and muscle imbalance.

Steps to do a single-leg deadlift:

  1. Holding a kettlebell in your right hand, stand upright with your feet and arms straight at your sides.
  2. Lowering the weight down, lift your right leg off the floor until your torso and leg are parallel to the ground.
  3. Focus on your hams in that position for a couple of seconds before you return to the start.
  4. You’ll feel the contraction in your hamstrings and glutes when you raise your leg behind.

4. Unilateral Leg Curl

The kettlebell leg curl is an isolation exercise that targets hamstring muscles specifically. It keeps the hamstrings under constant tension without involving other muscle groups throughout the movement.

The lying leg curl is also great for people who want to bolster their hamstrings without putting too much stress on the lower back.

Steps to do a kettlebell hamstring curl:

  1. Lie on the floor on your stomach with your face down.
  2. Keep your arms bent at your sides with your fingers pointing forward.
  3. Clamp your right foot on the handle of KB and curl your leg as much as possible.
  4. Squeeze your hamstrings for a second or two before returning your leg to the start.
  5. Do two to three sets of eight to ten reps each for your legs.

5. Single-Leg KB Hip Thrust

The single-leg hip thrust works on various muscles simultaneously, such as the hips, glutes, hamstrings, and core. It targets the hammies from a different angle and helps build solid rear thighs.

Steps to do a single-leg hip thrust:

  1. Place your upper back on the bench and keep your feet flat on the floor. Make sure your knees are in line with your hips.
  2. Grip a kettlebell, hold it on your hips, and keep your core tight.
  3. Thrusting your hips upward, raise your left foot off the floor until your leg is straight.
  4. Holding your leg straight, pause for a couple of seconds, and return your foot to the floor. That’s your first repetition.
  5. Do two to three sets of six to eight reps on each side.

6. Russian Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is a full-body workout and helps you develop explosive strength and power.3 Kettlebell swing training improves maximal and explosive strength – Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

It targets the various muscle group simultaneously, including the hamstrings, and help develop a well-rounded physique.

Steps to do a kettlebell swing:

  1. Grab a kettlebell and stand straight in the shoulder-width stance.
  2. Keep your arms straight in front of your thighs so the weight is between your legs.
  3. Push your hips back to bend forward so the KB reaches backward from and between your thighs.
  4. Drive through your heels and use your hamstrings and glutes to stand up as you swing the KB in front of you at your chest height.
  5. Your hips will generate power to swing, not your shoulder.
  6. Keep your spine in a neutral position during the movement.

7. Stiff-Legged Deadlift

The stiff-leg deadlift is an excellent deadlift variation that works on the back of your thighs and builds up strong legs.

It requires you to bend your torso forward until the weight touches the floor. The excess bending in your hips provides the deepest stretch to the entire posterior chain muscles and helps improve overall flexibility and balance.

Steps to do a straight-leg deadlift:

  1. Holding a kettlebell, stand straight on the weight plates with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keep your arms straight between your legs, palms facing in, and shoulder blades slightly down. But maintain a neutral spine position.
  3. Keeping your knees locked, push your hips back and lower the weight as low as possible.
  4. Extend your hips to return to the standing position.
  5. Press your feet into the floor as you extend your hips so you can feel the contraction in your hamstring muscles.
  6. Do three sets of six to eight reps each.

8. KB Hamstring March

You can do the hamstring march as a warm-up exercise to increase the blood flow around the back of your thigh before performing the hamstring workouts with kettlebells.

Steps to perform KB Hamstring March:

  1. Grab one kettlebell in each hand and stand upright with your right together.
  2. Keep your arms straight by your sides with your palms facing in.
  3. Step forward with your right leg, bend your hips and knees until your torso is parallel to the ground, and bells touch the floor.
  4. Press through your leading foot to return to the standing position and repeat on the opposite side.
  5. Perform as many reps and sets as you like.

Hamstrings Kettlebell Workout Routine

Let’s see how you can use the above hamstring kettlebell exercises to form a workout routine.

Monday

  • KB Hamstring March: 5 reps on each side x 2
  • Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift: 10 reps x 3
  • Unilateral Leg Curl: 10 reps on each leg x 3
  • Single-Leg KB Hip Thrust: 10 reps on each leg x 3
  • Take 60 seconds to 2 minutes of break between sets.

Thursday

  • Russian Kettlebell Swing: 15 reps x 3
  • Kettlebell Good Morning: 8-10 reps x 3 sets
  • Single-Leg/Stiff leg Deadlift: 6-8 reps x 3
  • Unilateral Leg Curl: 10 reps on each leg x 3
  • Take 60 seconds to 2 minutes of break between sets.

Final Words

The hamstrings are one of the crucial lower body muscles that work when you flex your knees or extend your legs. They are involved in various activities, from squatting and jumping to running and sprinting.

Having strong hammies makes your lower body stronger, flexible, provides stability to the spine, and helps enhance your athleticism.

You can bolster your hammies in several ways, but if you want to do that with kettlebells, you can integrate the above exercises into your workout regime.

The kettlebell exercises allow you to train your hamstrings from every angle and help you build firm legs.

Alternate Hamstring Exercises:

Related Kettlebell Exercises:

References

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Murshid Akram

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. For the last six years, I’ve been working and training with people who use all sorts of equipment and follow multiple types of workouts, from calisthenics to powerlifting. I primarily design workout plans and share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you become stronger, flexible, and healthier.

About Me

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. For the last six years, I’ve been working and training with people who use all sorts of equipment and follow multiple types of workouts, from calisthenics to powerlifting. I primarily design workout plans and share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you become stronger, flexible, and healthier.

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