Home Hamstring Exercises

The hamstrings, located in the back of your thigh, help stabilize your knees and provide power when you walk, squat, run or jump. Working your hamstrings doesn’t require expensive gym equipment; you can effectively exercise these muscles at home with dumbbells, elastic resistance bands or even no equipment at all.


Stand square with your feet planted shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a single dumbbell in each hand or hold a barbell in both hands, palms facing back toward your thighs. The weight or weights should be resting lightly on the fronts of your thighs. Squeeze your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine and inhale as you hinge forward at the hips, pushing your buttocks back behind you and centering your weight over your heels. Make sure not to arch your back (beyond the natural arch, that is) or to hunch it forward; bend only at the hip.

The weight or weights should travel down just in front of your legs. Keep your chest up and out, shoulders down and back, through the entire range of motion. In other words, keep your head up, looking forward. Stop when the weight is just at or below kneecap level, or sooner if you feel tightness in your hamstrings. Reverse the motion, exhaling and squeezing your hips in and underneath as you straighten back up into the start position.

Prone Hamstring Curls

Tie one end of a Theraband around your left ankle or, if you’re using resistance bands with handles, pass the band through one of the handles, creating a loop, and put your left ankle through this loop. Tie a knot in the other end if you’re using a Theraband, and shut a door on the Theraband, just shy of the knot, to hold it in place. If you’re using a resistance band with a handle, shut the door on the band just short of the handle. The handle or knot should be positioned at about ankle height.

Lay down, feet facing toward the anchor you’ve created, head pointing away, and scoot forward until you feel tension in the Theraband or exercise band. Squeeze your abs tight to stabilize your spine, and focus on keeping both hips and knees in contact with the ground as you bend your left knee, bringing your ankle up until it’s directly over your knee. Exhale during the upward portion of the motion, and then inhale as you slowly lower your ankle to the starting position. Complete a full set of this exercise on your left, and then switch the band to your right leg and repeat.

Forward Lunges

Stand square with your feet hip-width apart. Step forward about twice the length of a normal stride and bend both knees, dropping your hips straight down over your back knee. Stop when both of your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle; your back knee should be just shy of the ground, and your front knee should be behind an imaginary line leading straight up from the front of your big toe. Keep your torso upright and your hips square throughout the entire motion. Look forward, not down at your feet.

Straighten your legs to lift your hips, and then step back to a squared-off standing position. You can complete a full set of lunges with one leg forward, then switch to the other leg, or alternate back and forth between legs.

About this Author

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics at the University of Alaska Anchorage and contributes regularly to various online publications. Print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.