We show you the best 3 hamstring exercises to improve strength, speed and prevent injury.
In our latest video, Jin Su Jung, one of Australia’s top sprinters with a PB of 10.27, demonstrates our top 3 hamstring exercises to develop strength, speed and most importantly, prevent injury.
The most important thing to remember when prescribing hamstring exercises is that the exercise should mimic, as closely as possible, the actions, loads and positions that hamstrings go through, particularly at the point in the gait cycle that they tend to tear. This point is when the hamstring quickly moves from an eccentric (lengthening phase) to a concentric (shortening phase) which happens when the hip is flexed out in front and the knee moves from extension (straightening) to flexion (bending). If the hamstring is not strong enough to make the transition quickly, it will fail and “tear”.
Do 3- 4 sets of 6-8 reps of each, twice a week. Try to NOT do it 24 hours PRIOR to a high intensity running/sprint session. Try to make the transitions from lengthening to shortening as quickly as possible and in a PAIN FREE manner.
Exercise no.1 – Nordic hamstring curl
Not my favourite as it is a double leg exercise and hamstring injuries are a single leg injury, however, it is the only single exercise thus far that has been proven, in 2 different studies, to reduce hamstring injury rates (Van der Horst et al 2015 & Peterson et al 2011).
Tips: Don’t “drop” at the end of the movement. If you are not strong enough to go all the way down then stop when you feel you are about to fail and pull back. Try to go a little lower each week.
Exercise no.2 – Single leg glute/ham raise on GHD machine
Tip: Keep the knee flexed (don’t let it straighten) the entire time and try to produce the movement through your hip/glute. MUST BE DONE AS A SINGLE LEG EXERCISE.
Exercise no.3 – Single leg skateboard hamstring curl/glute raise
Tip: Again do not let the knee straighten all the way. Skateboards are available at Kmart for about $30. Well worth it!
If you have had a hamstring tear then approach these exercises slowly. There are many other factors that can contribute to hamstring tears so if you do get recurrent hamstring tears or pain then please book yourself in to see an experienced musculoskeletal physiotherapist.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Clark is a father of 3 and the owner and principal physiotherapist at Clinical Physiotherapy, St Ives. He graduated with a Masters degree from the University of Sydney in 2010 and has since had 10 years experience working in musculoskeletal private practice. He has undergone extensive professional development and has experience treating a wide variety of patients and musculoskeletal conditions.