The 5 Best Hamstring Exercises You Should Be Doing

Hamstrings often get the short end of the stick when it comes to lower body training.

Even when someone is diligently training legs on a weekly basis, you’ll tend to see a lot of the programming focus go into building bigger more muscular quads, meanwhile the hamstrings are lucky to get 1 exercise at the tail-end of training. We need to change this.

Not only will bigger stronger hamstrings be great from a performance aspect , regularly training them will help decrease your overall injury risk, and help fill out your overall leg aesthetics.

Here are 5 great exercises to build up some beefier, stronger hamstrings!

1. Hamstring Curl

Probably the most obvious exercise on the list and why I listed it first.

When it comes to building a BIGGER pair of hamstrings, you’re going to be hard pressed to beat your standard issue hamstring curl machine. There’s really not all that much too it, isolate the hamstrings, train them hard as hell, then sit back and watch your hard fought gains come in. Simple.

So…is it a cliche choice for a hamstring article? Yes. Is it still a fantastic movement that you should definitely be doing? Also yes.

2. Stiff Leg Deadlift/Romanian Deadlift

For those unaware these ARE two separate movements. If you are confused on the difference check out this video by Alan Thrall explaining the two!

However, despite their slight differences both of these movements accomplish a very similar goal when it comes to hamstring training. This is some of the heaviest hamstring exercises you’ll be able to do.

Obviously a normal deadlift will train your hamstrings as well, but the more straight leg positioning of the stiff leg and Romanian deadlift will specifically target your training in towards your hamstrings.

If you are looking to build STRONGER hamstrings these should both be your go to picks for training.

3. Glute Ham Raise

Glute ham raises are in my opinion the hardest exercise on this list. In fact, they are so challenging it’s rare to find a person that can do the movement slow and controlled with near perfect form.

That being said these are one of the best hamstring exercises you can be doing to develop strength and size, and are especially handy if you are in a gym that lacks a hamstring curl machine.

A lot of people will avoid this movement due to it’s difficulty but there are plenty of variations to help work you up to the real bodyweight glute ham raise movement!

Check out this tutorial by John Meadows on the GHR to get started!! 

4. Kettlebell Swings

If you are feeling your kettlebell swings more in your quads than your hamstrings I’m here to bring you the unfortunate news that you’ve been doing them wrong all this time.

Done correctly a lot of the training stress of a kettlebell swing should be felt in your hamstrings and glutes. Especially the heavier you get with them.

Kettlebell swings can fill out your hamstring training in a unique way. Done correctly these can be a fantastic exercise to learn how to safely and efficiently fire your hamstrings in one explosive effort and you’re going to be hard pressed to mimic this kind of training with any of the other movements listed here.

Likewise, if you are an athlete who needs there hamstrings to last an entire match, kettlebell swings can easily be worked into conditioning sessions.

5. Ukrainian Stiff Leg Deadlift

Maybe you’ve already tried all the exercises above? Here’s something you probably haven’t.

The Ukrainian stiff leg deadlift is essentially a Romanian deadlift…except with double the ROM.

This movement is typically performed with a power pin on an elevated surface which allows you to far exceed the ROM you’d find with normal barbell hinge patterns.

You are going to feel every bit of that extra ROM too. This is by far my favorite hamstring exercise and doubles in that you’ll be training your whole posterior chain as well. If you haven’t given this movement a try I’d highly recommend it!

(Never seen a Ukranian deadlift? Check out this video!)

Matt Molloy

Matt Molloy

I'm a graduate the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Exercise Science. I’m a local guy (North Penn) and athletics has dominated my life. I've led teams in basketball, baseball, soccer, golf and my passion, long distance running. I've been strength training for 6 years with a focus in power-lifting but have recently stretched to strongman since joining the pride here at the Den. When I’m not in the gym I enjoy, spending time with my friends, music, and relaxing and playing some video games.