Exercises for Thigh and Hamstring Muscles

The thigh and hamstring muscles make up the bulk of your leg size and are important for the health of your knees, your everyday fitness and your ability to play sports. You will find a great many exercises are available to choose from to help you develop these muscles. Deciding which ones to use in your workouts is as much about personal preference as it is equipment availability. Whichever exercises you choose to perform, make sure you always warm up before hand and stretch at the end of your workout.


Squats can be performed in a variety of ways, including free standing, with a weight in your hands or on your shoulders, using an exercise machine or even with rubber exercise bands. The squat exercise closely mimics everyday activities, such as getting out of your car or lowering yourself into a chair so it has a lot of carry over to your daily life. Squats put a great deal of emphasis on the muscles on the front of the thigh, although they also use the hamstrings and butt to a lesser degree


This exercise requires you to pick up a barbell or other weight from the ground using only your legs and mainly works the hamstrings, butt and lower back. Because it is a specialized exercise, it is important to get instruction on how to perform this exercise correctly. The dead lift exercise mimics how you should pick up objects from the floor and is an effective exercise if you play sports.


You will find a variety of different ways to perform the lunge exercise, but they all work both the front of the thigh and the hamstrings effectively. Variations of the lunge exercise include forward, reverse, alternating, walking, weighted and static. Because lunges require you to exercise in a split stance with one leg forward of the other, they are particularly valuable to runners and other sports players.

Leg Extensions

Using a specialist resistance training machine, leg extensions put emphasis on the front of the thigh and provide you with a back support whilst exercising. Leg extension machines are normally found in well-equipped gyms and are useful if you want to concentrate on working only the front of the thigh. Care must be taken to ensure the machine is set up correctly for you as injury to the knee may occur if it is not.

Leg Curls

Emphasizing the hamstrings, leg curls allow you to work the backs of your thighs in either a seated, lying or standing position, depending on the model. Leg curls require you to flex your knee against the resistance provided by the machine and effectively isolate your hamstrings. As with the leg extension, make sure the machine is set up properly to make sure you minimize the risk of injury.

About this Author

Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. Also a lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a major contributor for Ultra-FIT magazine and has been involved in fitness for 22 years. Dale has always worked in health and fitness and never intends leaving.