Strengthening your hamstrings at home doesn’t have to be hard. These are the 4 best bodyweight moves that will build thigh muscle without weights.
There are some body parts that are just as easy to train at home as they are in the gym. Your chest can be easily trained with press-ups, your quads with squats and your core with planks, Russian twists and crunches. Other muscles however, aren’t so easy – as our go-to exercises rely on extra resistance from heavy weights or machinery that you might not have access to at home.
Take the hamstrings, for instance. When we have access to barbells, dumbbells and machines, you might do Romanian deadlifts, lying leg curls and good mornings. But translating those heavily weighted moves to your at-home training is easier than you might think.
We turned to personal trainer and Strong Women Training Club instructor Sam Says to share her favourite, no equipment hamstring exercises. Add these to your repertoire for when you want a proper back-of-the-leg burner; either performing them in their own circuit or including them in your lower body workouts for an all-over leg strengthening session.
4 best bodyweight hamstring exercises
Single leg glute bridge
“If you’ve been doing glute bridges for a while, you may have reached a point where you’re not feeling it much anymore. Doing single leg work is really useful here, as you’ll be putting all the weight through the one side,” says Sam. Think about foot placement too: the further away your feet are from your bum, the more your hamstrings will work.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Start with the heel about a hands width away from your bum, but play around with this to see what targets your hamstrings, glutes and quads the most.
- Tuck your left knee in towards your chest and hold onto it with your right hand.
- Place your left hand behind your head.
- Tuck your tailbone by pushing your pubic bone towards the sky and pulling your belly button in towards your spine.
- Press through your right heel to lift into a bridge position.
- Squeeze your glutes at the top before slowly lower back down.
Repeat 15 times each side
“This is another simple advancement on the glute bridge but with additional hamstring focus,” says Sam.
- Begin lying on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, heels about a hands width away from your bum.
- Lift up into the glute bridge position by pressing through your heels so your hips come off the floor – remember not to arch through your spine.
- Step your right foot forwards, so your right heel comes further away from your glutes. Do the same with your left foot.
- Keep stepping each foot forwards until your legs are straight, or as close to straight as you can get them.
- Slowly step them back in to the starting position.
Repeat for 30-60 seconds
“You don’t need fancy sliders for these – you can just use your socks or a towel on laminated floor,” says Sam. No hard floor in your home? Try placing your foot in a plastic lunchbox so you can drag your foot along the carpet.
- Come back into the glute bridge starting position and lift your hips up off the floor.
- Keeping your right foot pressed into the floor, slide your left heel forwards until it’s straight.
- Dig into the floor with your left heel to pull it back towards your glute. Don’t let your hips fall to the left hand side – instead keep your glutes squeezed so they stay square.
Repeat for 15 reps each side
“You can load your hamstrings in a lot of compound exercises,” says Sam. Stepping your front foot further forwards will also put more load through the back of your leg, so play with the positioning.
- Stand in front of a raised surface, be it a box, step, sofa or chair.
- Place your left leg behind you so your toes rest on the edge of the surface.
- Keep your chest open and core engaged as you bend your right knee and lower down towards the floor.
- Press up with your weight through your right heel.
Repeat 15 times on each side
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Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).