Don’t let the muscles in the front of your legs steal the spotlight. If you’re looking to work some muscles in your all-important
posterior chain, consider trying some stretchy hamstring resistance band exercises for a real burn.
resistance band is a fantastic tool when it comes to training your hamstrings, says Jonathan Tylicki, the director of education at dance workout studio AKT. “The benefit of using a resistance band versus a piece of equipment like a hamstring curl machine is that the band requires additional muscle recruitment to stabilize during the exercise,” Tylicki tells Bustle.
Unlike weights or machines, Tylicki says
resistance bands work to distribute the tension equally across your muscle because you have to work to stay stable throughout the entirety of each movement. Not only does this provide a good workout, but it also reduces your risk of strain or injury.
To find the right workout band for your routine, Tylicki recommends starting with one that has a “weight” or thickness that’s challenging enough to bring the burn without it being
too hard to stretch. If you only have one band on hand, though, you can easily increase the resistance depending on how you hold it, he says. Make the band shorter for more tension, or loosen it up for less intensity.
To feel a difference in your
hamstring strength, Tylicki suggests training them regularly. “Like most muscle groups, it's good to work them two to three times a week, allowing for recovery between training.” To get started, try a few of these expert-approve resistance band hamstring exercises. 1 Donkey Kickbacks
“This is great to include as part of your
lower body training program two to three times a week, or as a finisher at the end of a leg-focused workout,” Tylicki says.
- Get into a kneeling position.
- Place the middle of the resistance band around the arch of one foot.
- Hold the other end of the band in your hands.
- Come down to a tabletop position so the band has tension between your hands and foot.
- With a flexed foot, kick back and extend your leg fully to engage the hamstrings and glutes.
- Push out at a controlled speed for 2 counts, then bring it back in for 2 counts.
- Kick out 16 to 24 times with that leg, then switch to the other.
- Complete 2 to 3 rounds.
2 Prone Hamstring Curls
Brynn Franklin, MS, ACSM says this is her fave hamstring strengthening move.
- Loop a
circle resistance band around your ankles.
- Lie on the floor on your stomach.
- Extend both legs straight back behind you.
- Keep your left leg down as an anchor.
- Curl your right foot in towards your butt.
- Squeeze your hamstring muscle.
- Slowly return your ankle to the starting position.
- Repeat 12 to 15 reps, then switch legs.
- Repeat 2 to 3 sets per side.
3 Standing Hamstring Curl
Franklin says you can also do hamstring curls standing up.
- Attach one end of a looped band to the back of a chair and secure the other end around your ankle.
- Or, stand in the middle of a looped band and wrap the other end around your other ankle.
- Stand tall and activate your core.
- Extend your banded leg back, keeping your knee straight.
- Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings as you slowly bend your ankle in towards your glute.
- Return to a straight leg position.
- Curl for 12 to 15 reps, then repeat with your left leg.
- Complete 2 to 3 sets.
4 Prone Heel Taps
“This exercise engages the hamstrings since you’re holding your legs up for the duration of the round, and it hits the glutes, too,” says
Alayna Curry, an AFAA-certified fitness instructor and founder of Workout With Mom.
- Put the resistance band around your ankles.
- Lie down on your stomach.
- Cross your arms and rest your head on them.
- Lift your legs slightly off the ground.
- Spread them a little wider than hip distance, feeling the tension.
- Come back to neutral.
- Repeat for 3 rounds of 12 reps.
5 Plank Leg Lifts
Curry also recommends this plank variation. “It targets each hamstring muscle individually helping to
improve muscle imbalances, and it hits the glutes and core,” she says.
- Put the resistance band around your ankles.
- Get into a
high plank position.
- Lift one leg up off the ground and then set it back down.
- Then lift the other leg and set it back down.
- Repeat for 3 rounds of 10 reps.
6 Good Mornings Rachel MacPherson, a certified personal trainer and Garage Gym Reviews expert, says banded hamstring workouts really do the trick. “You'll likely feel results right away with some muscle soreness and you can expect strength gains as soon as the next session,” she says.
- Stand on a looped resistance band.
- Place it over your shoulders so it runs behind your head.
- Hinge forward at the hips and push your butt back behind you.
- Keep a soft bend in your knees.
- Maintain a flat back as you continue to hinge forward.
- Once you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, push against the resistance of the band to rise back up.
- Engage your hamstrings to stand.
- Repeat 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
MacPherson also suggests this exercise to work your hammies.
- Stand in the center of a band.
- Hold the handles or ends.
- Make sure there is tension in the band, then hinge at the hips.
- Push your glutes back.
- Keep your knees as straight as you can and your chest high.
- Hinge until you feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings, then reverse the motion using your hamstrings and glutes.
- Lock out your hips at the top of the movement, then repeat.
- Try 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Studies referenced: Faigenbaum, AD. 2010. Resistance training among young athletes: safety, efficacy and injury prevention effects. Br J Sports Med. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2009.068098. Lopes, JSS. 2019. Effects of training with elastic resistance versus conventional resistance on muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis. SAGE Open Med. doi: 10.1177/2050312119831116. Sources: Jonathan Tylicki, director of education at dance workout studio AKT Brynn Franklin, MS, ACSM, exercise physiologist Alayna Curry, AFAA-certified fitness instructor Rachel MacPherson, certified personal trainer
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