6 Essential Hamstring Exercises for Womem

Effective lower-body training involves targeting the hamstrings. The hamstrings, a two-muscle joint connecting the bottom of the hip bone to the tibia and fibula in the lower leg, play a crucial role in various activities. Whether it's propelling you forward at the starting line or assisting in a quick stop, these muscles are vital for optimal performance. Moreover, they are essential for everyday activities such as sitting, standing, walking, and running, involving both knee flexion and hip extension, as emphasized by Adrian Richardson, BP Doctor Coach and certified personal trainer. Weak hamstrings not only increase the risk of injury but can also lead to lower back pain, tightness, and posture misalignment.

Women, in particular, are at a higher risk of experiencing these negative consequences of weak hamstrings. Richardson points out, "Women are two to ten times more likely to have a knee ligament injury than men." He attributes this increased risk to insufficient training and the wearing of heeled shoes, which places women on their toes, forcing their quadriceps to do most of the work. The solution, Richardson suggests, is to train hamstrings and build posterior strength to counteract muscle imbalances. Importantly, there's no need to fear that focusing on hamstrings will result in bulkiness.

"Women tend to have a higher concentration of 'slow-twitch' or type 1 muscle fibers," explains Richardson. "These slow-twitch fibers make women more resistant to muscle fatigue, meaning it takes longer to reach failure. Combine this with estrogen’s anabolic, regenerative, and antioxidant properties, and a woman’s ability to build lean muscle mass and recover from weight training is generally superior to men." Therefore, women can train hard and often without the fear of becoming bulky.

Hamstring-Targeted Exercises


  • Stand with feet hip-to-shoulder width apart, holding dumbbells at the front of the thighs, palms facing you.
  • Hinge forward at the waist with mostly straight legs, keeping a micro bend in the knees.
  • Lower the weights towards your feet, maintaining a straight back and arms close to your body.
  • Slowly bring the weights up by extending the hips until standing upright.


  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding one or two dumbbells in front of the thighs, palms facing you.
  • Hinge forward at the waist while lifting one foot off the ground.
  • Lower the weight down towards your standing foot, feeling a stretch in the standing leg.
  • Reverse the motion and repeat for reps without bouncing or swinging the weights.


  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms straight in front of you at shoulder level.
  • Lower your body by shifting hips backward and bending knees, keeping your head up and back straight.
  • Go down as far as your strength allows, aiming to break parallel.
  • Return to standing by pushing the earth away with your feet and squeezing your glutes at the top.


  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, reaching forward for the kettlebell in a squat position.
  • Pull the kettlebell back towards you while extending your hips to lift the bell.
  • Your body should form a straight line at the top of the swing with fully extended hips and knees.
  • Your free arm can assume various positions, and breathing should remain rhythmic.


  • Anchor a thin band around a sturdy post or stationary object.
  • Lie face down, loop the band around your ankles, and curl your legs up towards your butt.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top of the curl, slowly release, and repeat.


  • Place a mat or foam pad beneath your knees, and have your partner hold your ankles for stability.
  • Slowly lower yourself towards the mat, contracting your hamstrings, and return to the starting position.