Hamstrings don’t get nearly the credit they deserve. They’re responsible for extending your legs and bending your knees, which are part of practically every movement you do on a day-to-day basis—especially when you’re in the gym.
While your hamstrings may be in action during like, 90 percent of the fitness moves you do, it’s rare that most of us actually take the time to focus on them. Sure, we take time to stretch them (especially after runs, because yowza those puppies get tight), but when was the last time you went to a hamstring-targeting workout class? Never? Yeah, same.
To be perfectly honest, ignoring hamstring strength is a rookie mistake, because stronger hamstrings can help you up the power in everything else you do—from running to walking to squatting to deadlifting (you get the picture). And so, we asked Le Sweat and Le Stretch founder Charlee Atkins to give us a full-on hamstring workout. Your hammies—and the rest of your body, TBH—will eventually thank you for it.
Set 1: 4 moves, 30 seconds each (with 10 seconds of rest in between), 2 times through
1. Knee pull: Stand up tall and hug one knee at a time into your chest as a nice way to warm up and lengthen your hamstring and come into hip flexion before a workout. For the second round, kick your legs straight out in front of you in a leg kick instead of pulling your knees to your chest.
2. Standing hamstring curl: Standing up straight, pull your heels in toward your butt, one at a time, à la a butt kick. This will help warm up the back side of your leg.
3. Walking squat: Come down into a squat position, and walk forward for the entire length of your mat. Sink low and pull your knees away from each other, keeping your hands above your head if that’s comfortable for you. Repeat the same movements walking backwards.
4. Inchworm walkout: Standing at the edge of your mat, walk yourself out to a plank position, then walk yourself back and repeat. Be sure to keep your legs straight the entire time.
Set 2: 4 moves, 40 seconds each (with a 10-second recovery), 2 cycles
1. Alternating lateral lunge: Hold a set of dumbbells by your sides, and lunge to one side, dipping the dumbbells around your knee. Be sure to keep your head in line with your tailbone, push your hips back and chest up, and take the move slowly.
2. Reverse curl: Flip your weights up and cycle through reverse lunges with your back knee kissing the ground. Keep your chest up and your head in line with your tailbone, and be sure your front knee stays in line with the ankle (and never let it go past your toe!).
3. Glute bridge: Lay on your back with your feet on the floor and your arms by your side, touching your hands to your heels. Lift your hips toward the sky, keeping your chest open, and exhale when you reach the top. Come back down to allow your lower back to kiss the ground, and repeat. Be sure to engage your core the entire time, and squeeze your glutes extra hard at the top.
4. Deadlift: Stand with your feet hip distance apart and dumbbells in either hand. Lean forward with a (very) slight bend in your knees, keeping your back flat and extending your dumbbells toward the ground. When your wrists reach the area directly below your knee, come back up to the top of the move.
Another body part you’re probably (mistakenly) ignoring at the gym? Your wrists, which happen to be key to some of the most major moves you’re doing. Plus, a Charlee Atkins-approved ab workout that will leave your core quaking.
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