Lacking power in your runs? Your hamstrings are probably under-trained. Target them with these exercises for a stronger start and finish.
Hamstrings are important for every exercise as they work hand in hand with your quads. If they’re tight, your quads will have to work extra hard to compensate.
As running relies heavily on your legs, it is important to build muscle evenly, so you’re better able to distribute your energy and reduce the risk of injury. People often do quad exercises, and overlook training their hamstrings. Here, we’ve compiled the best hamstring exercises for runners, so you can start adding them to your plan.
(Also read: Want to Run Faster? Strengthen Your Hamstrings)
Wide barbell lunge
The lunge is a leg exercise that mainly targets your quads, but by placing a barbell between your legs instead of holding it by your chest or sides, the weight shifts to your hamstrings.
Stand in a lunge position over a barbell placed horizontally on the floor. When you find your balance, bend your knees and hold the barbell between your legs. Return to starting position, then bend both knees to do a lunge. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
(Also read: How to Do Lunges Without Hurting Your Knees)
With a weight placed in front of your body, your back, hamstrings, and calves will have to work harder to help you stabilise.
Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Holding a barbell or a dumbbell in each hand, keep your arms and back straight as you keep the weights close to your body and lower them to your ankles. Keep your knees softly bent to avoid locking them. Come back up to standing in the same way. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
Single leg deadlift
Improve your balance and isolate each leg’s hamstring with single leg deadlifts. As one leg has to support the weight of your body and the additional weight from a dumbbell, your legs have to work extra hard to prevent you from falling.
Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and place your left hand on your hip for stability. Take a step back with your right foot and stand on your toes. You can lift your foot off the ground if you are comfortable. Keep your right arm and back straight as you keep the dumbbell close to your body and lower it to your left ankle. Keep your knees softly bent to prevent locking them. Come back up to standing in the same way. Repeat 10 to 12 times and repeat on the right leg.
Squats are a tough lower body workout to begin with, but you can increase the intensity by trying a pistol squat instead. The same muscles will be working on your standing foot, while you engage your calves, quads, and hamstrings of your lifted foot to keep it off the ground.
Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your right leg off the floor, trying to keep it at a 90-degree angle. You can bend your knees if needed. Bend your left knee and lower your hips to your ankles like a deep squat. Keep your back straight and knee behind your toes. Engage your left leg and stand up. Repeat 10 to 12 times, then switch sides. You can hold on to a bar for support.