4 Hamstrings Exercises You Probably Don’t Know

Categories: Videos & podcasts

4 Uncommon hamstrings exercises to add to your exercise repertoire.


00:07 1. Hanging leg curls

02:38 2. Walkouts

03:23 3. Sliding leg curls

03:45 4. Suspended leg curls


Ladies and gentlemen, without any ado, I present to you 4 hamstrings exercises you’ve probably never heard of.

First we have hanging leg curls, also known as gliding leg curls, because you are gliding through the air and essentially performing a bodyweight leg curl. Think of pulling up your whole body via your ankles. You grab the bench with your ankles and then you curl your whole body up using your hamstrings and your calves, specifically the gastrocnemius of the calves. It hits all heads of the hamstrings. So it’s a great exercise for hamstrings. Most people feel very high muscle tension with this exercise. And what I particularly like about it is that it’s very easy to combine with squats. So you’re already in a squats rack when you’re doing squats. You can easily do this, as parent sets, super sets, combo sets… whatever you want.

And I like to do these first because many people experience that If you do a leg curl before squats, the squats feel a lot more stable and it doesn’t interfere with your squat strength. In fact, there is some research that fatiguing the hamstrings before an exercise for the quads causes antagonist potentiation and thereby increases strength in the quads. So this is a great exercise to make your squats feel better, to warm up for the squats potentially even get some performance boost out of it. You might think that the main downside of the exercise is that it’s difficult to implement progressive overload. What do you do when you can do, say, 30 reps with bodyweight?

At that point, the exercise becomes too easy. Well, there are actually a few things you can do. First, you can put your hips high by extending the hips. So essentially performing a hip thrust keeping yourself in the hip bridge position throughout the whole set, you make the exercise significantly more difficult because the hamstrings are now not just performing a leg curl, but they also have to be involved as hip extensors. Plus, you shorten the hamstrings and you make them experience greater functional excursion. So that makes a decent difference in the exercise difficulty. What you can also do is move the bench further away. But this depends on whether that’s still comfortable for you.

And if that’s still too easy, what you can do then is move on to the one legged variance with the hips down low that you can see here. This is much, much more difficult, of course. And then you can move on to the one legged variant with the hips held high, and that’s pretty advanced. It’s not like a Nordic ham curl or anything many people can do this exercise already. Even intermediate lifters, beginners, maybe not so much, but many intermediate lifters will be able to max out on this exercise, at least for moderate rep numbers. If you can do 30 reps with one leg. That’s definitely very badass, but this is an exercise most people have to cycle in and out of their program because you will max out on it if you’re reasonably well trained. Overall, though, still a nice variant to know.

Next up, we have walkouts. Walkouts are certainly not going to be a crowd favorite, but the main benefit of this exercise is that you can do it literally anywhere. You literally just walk out. As you can see in the video, on your heels, taking tiny baby steps. You can do this again with the hips down low, which is a bit easier. Or, what you can see here with the hips held high, which is much more difficult. For the same reasons as for hanging leg curls Overall, not an exercise that you’re likely to put in your programs all the times, but it is an exercise that’s great to know when you have to do hotel workouts, home workouts, or you just want to switch it up sometimes. if you have something like furniture sliders or velslides, you can also perform this exact same exercise but sliding over the floor. And then they’re called sliding leg curls, which is our exercise number three. You can also perform this in a rowing machine,

Rows which you can see here, which is great for certain, like CrossFit type gyms or hotel type workouts where they don’t have good hamstrings machines, and you do want to perform a leg curl movement. This actually works a lot better than it looks and it’s a pretty good exercise for the hamstrings. Again, you can do this with the hips down low and the hips up high, which is more difficult variant.

Suspended Lats And then last but best exercise number four we have suspended lack girls. This is probably the exercise that is most suitable as a default exercise or an exercise that you’re likely to put in your program and actually do for multiple months at a time, because it allows for a nearly infinite progressive overload. Just like for the other exercises, you can put weight on your abdomen. And in this case, that actually works really well because it’s very stable there you can put two plates, even more than two plates on your abs. after two plates, for most people it becomes a little bit cumbersome. What you can do then is move on to the variant with the hips high, which is much more difficult. In fact, you can see that I have to do it because this point the model’s hamstrings were completely fried. And if you’re really badass, then you can also do the exercise on one leg. and you can see that I’m also struggling here, my hamstrings are also pretty fried at this point. That’s a really difficult variant.

And then if you’re a super, super bad ass, you can do it in one leg with the hips held high. That would be the most difficult variant. And again, you can add weight on your abdomen. Another way you can make the exercise more difficult, which I typically don’t recommend because it’s harder to track, is to move yourself further away from the anchor points or to put the suspenders or the TRX lower to the floor. in these videos, you see that it’s already as low as it can.

And that the only part of the body that’s touching the floor is the upper back. Don’t touch the floor of your hands. This is purely a bodyweight leg curl movement. And this is most replicable because, you know, the TRX or suspenders are close to the floor. But if you want to do an easier variant, then you can move the suspenders or TRX up a bit higher so that your heels are further off the floor. And you could also move closer to the anchor points, which would also make it easier. But it’s difficult to track because you would have to keep in mind the exact position that you put it in. If you want to implement progressive overload.

All right. That’s 4 extra tools to add to your toolbox in terms of hamstrings training, I hope you find some use for these exercises. And if you like this type of content, I’d be honored if you like, and subscribe.

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About the author

Menno Henselmans

Formerly a business consultant, I've traded my company car to follow my passion in strength training. I'm now an online physique coach, scientist and international public speaker with the mission to help serious trainees master their physique.

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