Body Weight Hamstring Exercises

 

By Rick Morris

 

One of the most challenging muscles to train, using body weight only, are your hamstring muscles. Your hamstring muscles are also sometimes called your running muscles because of their important responsibility in acceleration. Their only duty isn't acceleration. Your hamstring muscles are also extensively used throughout your running stride as an important hip extensor muscle and as a primary knee flexion muscle.

 

Your hamstring muscle is actually a group of three muscles - the biceps femoris, semitendinosis and semimembranosus. While the primary function of your hamstring muscle group is knee flexion and hip extension, each muscle also plays a secondary but still important role - lower leg rotation. Your biceps femoris externally rotates your lower leg. External rotation takes place when you rotate your lower leg away from your body. Your semitendinosis and semimembranosus are responsible for internal rotation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It may seem like lower leg rotation may not be a critical part of your running stride but it can actually be quite important in stabilizing both your knee and your hips and in helping you avoid many common lower extremity running injuries.

 

You don't need to waste time with a trip to the gym to train your hamstring muscle group. Here are some simple body weight exercises that will strengthen all three hamstring muscles.

 

 

Straight Leg Hamstring Pull

 

Begin in a face up or supine position on the ground with your arms at your sides.

Cross your left foot over your right and bend your right knee slightly.

Now lift your hips about 6 to 8 inches off the ground by driving your right heel into the ground.

Keep a very slight bend in your right leg.

Focus on driving your heel into the ground and using your hamstring muscles to lift your hips.

Return to your starting position and repeat with rapid motions for about 30 seconds.

Switch legs and repeat.

 

Prone Swimmers

 

Lie on the ground in a face down position with your arms and hands extended above your head.

Begin a swimming or fluttering motion with your legs by extending your hips and flexing your knees.

This motion should closely resemble a swimming motion with your legs.

Continue this motion for about 60 seconds.

 

Double Leg Reach

 

Start this exercise is a standing position with your feet about shoulder width apart and your arms at your side.

Keeping both feet on the ground, bend forward at the hips and reach for the ground with both hands.

Keep your legs straight with “soft” unlocked knees.

Return to your starting position by straightening your body at the hips.

Continue this motion for about 10 to 15 repetitions. Adjust your number of reps and sets according to your fitness level.

 

Single Leg Reach

 

Start this exercise is a standing position with your feet about shoulder width apart and your arms at your side.

Keeping your right foot on the ground, bend forward at the hips and reach for the ground with both hands.

Your left leg should come off the ground and extend straight behind you.

Keep your legs straight with “soft” unlocked knees.

Return to your starting position by straightening your body at the hips.

Continue this motion for about 10 to 15 repetitions. Adjust your number of reps and sets according to your fitness level.

Repeat using your other leg.

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