Top 3 Hamstring Exercises

Many people neglect the hamstrings, this can be for a couple of reasons. You can’t see them because they are on the back of your body, and they may not be the most enjoyable or fun muscle group to train. In this article I will be creating a top 3 hamstring exercises post, this muscle group is important for injury prevention and contributes to a well-rounded and balanced physique. Without further ado, let’s get into the article!

Number One Hamstring Exercise – Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts:

My personal favourite hamstring exercise, and for good reason! With it being a compound movement and its ability to be trained heavy is a major benefit. Not only this, however, it does a great job of inducing a stretch on your hamstrings and being able to initiate the concentric with them. I wouldn’t say there is a whole lot of room for variation, however, because of the nature of the exercise, I find I am able to target and feel my hamstrings working much more than something like a traditional deadlift or romanian deadlift.

Since this is a compound movement and can be trained heavy, this makes for a great exercise to lay the foundation of your hamstring work and apply progressive overload. I am using this as my primary hamstring exercise with my current program. With the rather straight leg part of the lift and hip flexion, this exercise does a great job of lengthening the hamstring while under load. This is especially beneficial if you perform it with a controlled eccentric, which is great for muscle damage (one mechanism of muscle growth). I find the dumbbells allow me to perform the romanian deadlift more naturally and really focus on applying the tension on my hamstrings. For me personally, towards the end of my set I slow down the eccentric even more, this allows me to really focus on utilizing my hamstrings.

Seeing as this is a compound movement that we can train heavy and easily apply progressive overload to, it makes sense that this could be an exercise that lays the foundation of our hamstring work. That’s what I am currently doing, I’m performing this exercise with the rep scheme of 4×8-12. From here, I will perform some sort of exercise that allows me to really isolate my hamstrings, one of the main ones I use is the machine leg curl. I perform this with a 3×12. I am using a rather low volume for my hamstrings currently, however, if you want to focus on developing your hamstrings you could throw in another weekly exercise or two with the volume required by you. Keeping mind, I am currently training for hypertrophy, if your goal was strength, you may want to lower the reps and use a heavier weight if you were using this as a main movement. Consider using a barbell romanian deadlift, as you will be able to use more load and train more relative to strength.

Number 2 Hamstring Exercise – GHR (Glute Ham Raise):

The glute ham raise is one of those exercises that is quite versatile. It can be performed with weight, or done with body weight, and is quite relative to a variety of goals. Not only is it a great hamstring developer, its great for the posterior chain as a whole. The glute ham raise is a compound movement with some unique aspects and benefits that I will get into below.

First off, seeing as our legs remain straight for the first half of the movement, when we go into hip flexion it allows for a good stretch on the hamstrings. However, it also allows for a solid contraction of the hamstrings with knee flexion in the second half of the movement. The thing that I really like about this movement is there is always constant tension on the hamstrings. It’s a great movement to get your hamstrings firing for hypertrophy, and also a great assistance exercise for movements like the squat and deadlift. Let’s get into how the glute ham raise can be implemented within your routine.

First off, we know this exercise can be beneficial for strength and hypertrophy. Let’s start off with strength training. This exercise is a great movement for developing the posterior chain and power through the hips. Seeing as it would be tough to load this exercise up heavy enough to do direct strength work, I typically like the perform this movement in the 8-12 rep and focus on good, controlled reps with power through the eccentric. For hypertrophy, you have some options. Consider performing it to really focus on working your hamstrings. use a rep range with an according weight that will be able to fatigue your hamstrings. Think in the 8+ rep range. I often times perform this exercise with my body weight for high 15+ reps to get a really good burn.

Number 3 Hamstring Exercise – Seated Machine Leg Curl:

Now although I typically like to keep these top exercises posts to free weight movements as they are typically superior to machine exercises, I must say, for hamstrings, I do find them to be quite beneficial. This because it can often times be difficult to really focus on your hamstrings in exercises like deadlift variations, and there aren’t many exercises that allow you to get a full resisted contraction. This exercise is tough to apply progressive overload to with weight, however, you can do so fairly easily with reps.

Seeing as this is an isolation exercise, and the main mechanism for progressive overload will be through reps, the hamstring curl is typically used for hypertrophy purposes. Being able to fully contract and use a slow eccentric is another reason for this. It can also be a good exercise to throw in at the end of a strength training routine to get some targeted hamstring work. This because it does a great job of targeting the hamstrings, all while being an overall low fatigue movement.

When it comes to implementing the hamstring curl into our routines, it is rather straight forward. We know its mainly used for hypertrophy, however, you will still likely want to be including a compound movement that you can apply progressive overload to for your main movement. Utilizing the sets that fit into your volume and working in the 10-15 rep+ range is where I would suggest spending the majority of your time with this exercise. Incorporating it towards the end of your strength training sessions in a similar fashion can also be beneficial to get in some targeted hamstring work.

Wrapping Up:

After reading this article you have 3 hamstring exercises to consider incorporating into your routine. Not only do you have the exercises, you know why they’re solid options, their relation and benefits to your training and an idea as to how you can actually implement them.

I thank you for reading this article, and good luck in your next hamstring/leg day workout! As always, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!


Until Next Time,


Kohl Johnson

Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.

Support is much appreciated if you benefited from this:

Kohl Johnson

I am a 16-year-old fitness fanatic! I have learned nothing but quality training and nutrition information from the utmost well-respected individuals in the field. Now, my only focus is to share this knowledge with you for your benefit, in the most honest way possible. We are all in this together! LET'S GO!

2 Responses

  1. Hi Kohl! Thank you for the article on hamstring training. 

    I found it very informative I never gave much thought to training my hamstrings, but sure will try and work that into my daily routine after reading this article

    . I was wondering though do you stretch before exercising them and what stretches are best for the hamstrings?  



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