As you may already know, the hamstrings are the muscles in the back of your leg that help you bend your knee and extend your hip joint.
They’re also crucial to getting into that power position during the running stride when your foot makes contact with the ground.
That’s why strengthening your hamstrings will not only improve your sprinting time, but it will also help keep you from experiencing debilitating injuries like runner’s knee and Achilles tendinitis down the road.
To get stronger, try these 5 hamstring strengthening exercises for runners today!
Table of Contents
1) Standing leg curls
Begin standing with your back to a bench and one leg extended behind you. Bend forward from your hips until you feel a strong contraction in your hamstrings, holding for 3 seconds.
Stand back up and then repeat with your other leg. Complete 2 sets of 10 reps per leg. This exercise is great for runners because it helps strengthen your glutes and hamstrings, which are important muscle groups for running.
You can also do these lying on your stomach or while seated on an incline bench if that’s more comfortable. It’s okay to start off doing just 1 set of 10-15 reps, as long as you build up gradually over time.
These exercises are designed to be done slowly, so don’t rush through them! It’s better to take longer breaks between sets than try to fit too many into one session.
Remember: Stronger hamstrings = less injury risk! Plus, having strong hamstrings will help you run faster. Want to learn more about how strengthening your body can improve your running?
2 sets of 10 reps each leg Standing Leg Curls 1 set of 15 reps Seated Leg Curls 1 set of 15 reps Lying Leg Curls 1 set of 15 reps Standing Machine Calf Raises 1 set of 20 reps Donkey Calf Raises 1 set of 20 reps Standing Calf Raises on a Step Machine or Stair Climber (if available)1setof20reps
2) Straight leg curls
To perform straight leg curls, lie flat on your back and hold a straight-leg raise in each hand. Contract your hamstrings by raising your legs about six inches off of the floor.
Pause briefly, and then slowly lower them back down to their original position. Repeat 10 times to complete one set. Complete two or three sets with 30 seconds of rest between each set.
If it is too difficult to lift both legs at once, try starting with just one foot at a time while holding onto something for support (such as a wall).
Once you become more comfortable with only doing one leg at a time, then you can progress to lifting both legs together when performing straight leg curls. Do not let your hips drop below 45 degrees during any part of these exercises.
This is important because if you allow your hips to drop below 45 degrees, you will place unnecessary stress on your lower back and may injure yourself. Do not bounce up and down while lifting or lowering your legs during these exercises.
It should take approximately five seconds to fully lift up and five seconds to fully lower down throughout all repetitions of these exercises.
Also, keep your knees facing forward throughout all repetitions of these exercises. Bending your knees sideways places unnecessary stress on your knee joints and may cause injury.
3) Leg lifts
Stand with your back straight and support yourself by holding onto a chair. Lift one leg off of the floor until it is parallel to your body.
Slowly lower it back down to its original position. Complete 10-15 repetitions before switching legs. Repeat twice per day.
To make these exercises more challenging, hold on to something that’s above waist height, such as a table or countertop. When you can easily lift your leg up to touch an object at shoulder level, move on to a higher surface.
When you are able to lift your leg all the way up so that it touches an object above head level (such as a ceiling fan), you will know you have made significant progress!
You should be able to complete three sets of 15 repetitions with each leg every other day. This exercise works your hamstrings while also strengthening your hips and glutes, making it a great choice for runners who want both better performance and reduced risk of injury.
As a runner, you need strong hamstrings—they work in conjunction with your quadriceps muscles during running motions—but they also help protect against muscle strains.
While most runners focus on their quads when working out their legs, spending some time strengthening their hamstrings will give them more strength and stability during their runs—and might even prevent injuries from occurring in the first place!
4) Single leg heel raises
Stand with your back flat against a wall, feet a few inches away from the wall. Slowly lower yourself into a seated position.
Hold that position for as long as you can, then stand up and repeat. Wall sits are simple to do and require no equipment or space. You’ll also be working against gravity (which will strengthen your hamstring muscles) and holding your body in a static position, which is ideal for strengthening tendons and ligaments.
Be sure to keep your knees facing forward, don’t let them collapse inward. If you have knee issues, try sitting on a pillow or yoga mat instead of directly on the floor.
Remember to hold it for at least 60 seconds; otherwise it won’t be very effective! Do 3 sets of 10 reps per day. If you want more of a challenge than that though, try standing on one leg while doing single leg heel raises!
This will put more stress on your hamstrings because they have to work harder when they’re not able to rely on their partner leg’s strength as much. The key here is consistency—you need to work these out at least 3 times per week if you want results!
A lot of people make excuses about why they don’t have time to exercise, but remember: you only need 20 minutes per day. And if you feel like you don’t have enough time during your busy schedule, think about all those other things that take up your time…like watching TV shows or playing video games!
There’s nothing wrong with being busy, but there is something wrong with making excuses. Make exercising a priority by setting aside some time each day just for it and sticking to it!
5) Wall sits
Wall sits work your quads and glutes to build strength in your legs, but they also strengthen your hamstrings and make them more resistant to strain and injury.
Though, like squats, wall sits will not actually bulk up muscles – they’re designed to increase muscle endurance. To do a wall sit, place your back against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart on the floor.
Slowly slide down until you’re sitting in a crouched position. Your knees should form right angles with your thighs parallel to the floor (as opposed to pointed straight out).
Keep sliding down until you can’t any longer; even if it doesn’t seem like you could go lower, there’s room if you try! Hold that position as long as possible. You’ll feel it working after just one or two reps.
Make sure to keep breathing while holding your position, as you don’t want to get lightheaded! When you’ve had enough, stand up slowly and take a break before trying again. This exercise is especially effective when paired with leg lifts.
Start by doing 15 to 20 leg lifts, then finish off by going into a full wall sit. This is much harder than it sounds! Once you’ve mastered single-leg leg lifts, try lifting both legs at once—it’s harder than you think.
Start small and build up from there: start with five sets of 10 repetitions each day, then add another set every other day until you reach three sets of 20 repetitions each day.
Heel raises: Heel raises are a great way to target your calves without having to walk around in boots all day long (like wearing ankle weights would do).
They are easy to perform anywhere – no special equipment required!
Should runners strengthen hamstrings?
It depends. If you have already taken time off or have been injured and need to build back strength, doing hamstring strengthening exercises may be a good way to go. It’s important to strengthen your entire lower body, including all of your leg muscles, so you can stay balanced as you run. Doing too much hamstring-strengthening exercise without also strengthening other areas of your legs could create imbalances in muscle groups that ultimately lead to injury and pain down the road. To strengthen without creating imbalances, work on overall lower-body stability by doing exercises like squats and lunges. Also add in some single-leg exercises like step ups with one foot on a bench behind you or wall sits with both feet on a chair or wall behind you. And remember to do these exercises slowly and correctly! You should feel your muscles working but not overly sore after each workout.
How long does it take to strengthen hamstrings?
It takes time to strengthen your hamstrings. This particular group of muscles is quite powerful and they are often called upon to do a lot of work when you run and sprint. Therefore, it makes sense that they might need a little extra time to strengthen up if they are not at peak performance. If you want to speed up their recovery, there are a few things you can do: Massage your hamstring area after running and strength training. Ice them right after running or strength workout sessions. Drink plenty of water to help flush out toxins in your body. Try stretching before and after working out. Make sure you are doing exercises correctly, so as not to injure yourself. Always warm up before exercising with dynamic stretching exercises such as lunges and walking knee-to-chest stretches (see video below).
How can I strengthen my hamstrings at home?
Prioritize hamstring exercises in your training. Do these regularly: Leg curl (slowly contract and release your hamstrings) – hold a medicine ball between your feet as you roll up and down on an exercise ball. Do three sets of 15 reps, resting 30 seconds between each set. Leg press (slowly contract and release your hamstrings) – stand behind a leg press machine with a barbell across both legs, slowly lowering weight back to starting position after exhaling through contracted position; do three sets of 12 reps, resting 45 seconds between each set. Glute bridge (slowly contract and release your hamstrings) – lie on your back with knees bent, holding weights above hips. Slowly lift hips off floor by contracting glutes while keeping heels planted; do three sets of 10 reps, resting 60 seconds between each set. Single-leg deadlift (focus on one side at a time) – stand tall holding dumbbells at sides, palms facing inward.