Ham Busters

The Best Hamstring Exercises

The hamstrings are made up of three muscles on the back of the thigh that flex the knee and extend the hip. Injuries to these muscles are extremely common and can end sports careers. The leg curl, involving knee flexion, is the most common and popular hamstring exercise. However, hamstrings are more heavily used as hip extensors in sport. Also, hamstring injuries commonly occur during hip extension. A study from the University of Memphis, led by Brian Schilling and Matt McAllister, showed that the glute-ham raise and Romanian deadlift were the best exercises for activating the hamstring muscles. These exercises are relatively uncommon, but essential for building hamstring strength and power and preventing injury.

Source: Journal Strength Conditioning Research, 28: 1573-1580, 2014

Ham Busters - The Best Hamstring Exercises


Glute-Ham Raise

  • Lie facedown on a glute-ham raise machine and place your feet against the footpad so that you knees are just behind the pad. These can also be done kneeling on the floor by having a partner hold your ankles in place throughout the exercise
  • Keeping your upper body straight and your back slightly arched, slowly lower your upper body towards the floor in front of you
  • Drive your toes into the footpad or floor to start moving your upper body back to the starting position, keeping your back straight and back slightly arched throughout
  • Pause at the top of the movement and repeat


Romanian Deadlift

  • Stand with a barbell in front of you on the ground and reach down and grab it with an overhand or alternating grip
  • Stand up and hold the barbell with a slight bend in your elbows, so the barbell sits just below your waist
  • Keeping a slight bend in your knees and a slight arch in your lower back, slowly lower the barbell by pushing your hips back as far as possible
  • Keeping the bar as close to your body/shins as possible, lower the bar as far as you can while keeping your back locked and tight
  • Drive your hips forward to return to the starting position
Ham Busters - The Best Hamstring Exercises



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