Deadlifts, Hamstring Rolls and More Exercises for the Hamstrings

1
Deadlift with Dumbbells

Paige Waehner

More Hamstring Exercises: Deadlift | One-Legged Deadlift | Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hip Lifts on the Ball | Bent Knee Deadlifts | Barbell Deadlifts | Seated Slides | One-Leg Deadlift w/ Balance Challenge | Pull Through | Deadlift Combo

Deadlifts are the perfect back body exercise, targeting the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. One reason they're amazing is that, not only do they work multiple muscles, they also mimic a movement we do all day long--bending over to pick things up. This move requires perfect form in order to protect your back. If you have any back problems or feel any abnormal pain in the lower back, skip this and work on strengthening the lower back before trying it again.

  1. Stand with feet about hip-distance apart and hold weights in front of thighs.
  2. Keeping the shoulders back, abs in and the back straight, tip from the hips and lower the weights towards the floor.
  3. Lower as far as your flexibility allows. You can bend the knees slightly if you need to.
  4. Push into the heel to go back to starting position.
  5. Do 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

Tips:

  • Don't round the shoulders forward. To keep your back flat, look up as you lower down.
  • Don't bend the knees as you lower down. This is not a squat, but a move that comes from the hips. Keep your knee at the same angle throughout the movement.
  • Use light weights until you get the hang of it.

2
One-Legged Deadlift

Paige Waehner

More Hamstring Exercises: Deadlift | One-Legged Deadlift | Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hip Lifts on the Ball | Bent Knee Deadlifts | Barbell Deadlifts | Seated Slides | One-Leg Deadlift w/ Balance Challenge | Pull Through | Deadlift Combo

Deadlifts are challenging enough on both legs...doing them on one leg will really challenge your balance as well as add intensity to the working leg.

  1. Stand holding weights in front of thighs and place left leg out behind you with the toe lightly touching the floor (or lift it completely off the floor for more of a challenge).
  2. Keeping the shoulders back, abs in and the back straight, tip from the hips and lower the weights towards the floor.
  3. Lower as far as your flexibility allows. You can bend the knee slightly if you need to.
  4. Push into the heel to go back to starting position.
  5. Do 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

Tips:

  • Don't round the shoulders forward. To keep your back flat, look up as you lower down.
  • Don't bend the knee as you lower down. This is not a squat, but a move that comes from the hips. Keep your knee at the same angle throughout the movement.
  • Use light weights until you get the hang of it.

3
Hamstring Rolls on the Ball

Hamstring Roll on the Ball. Paige Waehner

More Hamstring Exercises: Deadlift | One-Legged Deadlift | Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hip Lifts on the Ball | Bent Knee Deadlifts | Barbell Deadlifts | Seated Slides | One-Leg Deadlift w/ Balance Challenge | Pull Through | Deadlift Combo

Using the ball to work your hamstrings is a great way to target the lower body as well as the abs and back to help you stabilize the body.

  1. Lie down on the floor and place both heels on the exercise ball.
  2. Lift the hips up so that your body is in a straight line from head to toes.
  3. Press the heels into the ball to roll the ball in, contracting the hamstrings. Keep the feet flexed.
  4. Roll the ball back out, keeping the hips lifted.
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps. For a modification, lower the hips to the floor after rolling the ball out to decrease the intensity.

4
One-Legged Hamstring Rolls on the Ball

Paige Waehner

More Hamstring Exercises: Deadlift | One-Legged Deadlift | Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hip Lifts on the Ball | Bent Knee Deadlifts | Barbell Deadlifts | Seated Slides | One-Leg Deadlift w/ Balance Challenge | Pull Through | Deadlift Combo

One-legged hamstring rolls are a very advanced exercise, so take care in practicing this move and only do it if you're an experienced exerciser.

  1. Lie on the floor with right heel resting on ball and the left leg lift straight up.
  2. Press into the ball to lift the hips up into a table top position. Keep the hands on the floor to help you balance.
  3. Press into the ball and roll it in using the right heel, still keeping the hips lifted.
  4. Roll the ball back and lower the hips down, repeating the entire sequence for 1-3 sets of 8-10 reps.

5
One-Legged Hip Lifts on the Ball

Paige Waehner

More Hamstring Exercises: Deadlift | One-Legged Deadlift | Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hip Lifts on the Ball | Bent Knee Deadlifts | Barbell Deadlifts | Seated Slides | One-Leg Deadlift w/ Balance Challenge | Pull Through | Deadlift Combo

This exercise looks a lot like the one-legged hamstring roll, but the difference is that you're lifting the hips up and down rather than rolling the ball in and out. The ball adds an element of instability that will add some intensity to this move and, doing this move one leg at a time will also make it more challenging. You can always modify by keeping both feet on the ball or by doing this move on the floor.

  1. Lie on the floor and put the left foot flat on the ball. Keep the ball close to the body for more control. You can also prop the ball against the wall if you need more stability.
  2. Lift the right leg straight up so that the foot is facing the ceiling.
  3. Press the right foot into the ball and lift the hips off the floor, taking the left leg up towards the ceiling.
  4. Keep the hands on the floor to help you balance.
  5. Lower the hips without touching the floor and repeat for 10-12 reps before switching sides.

6
Bent-Knee Deadlifts

Paige Waehner

More Hamstring Exercises: Deadlift | One-Legged Deadlift | Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hip Lifts on the Ball | Bent Knee Deadlifts | Barbell Deadlifts | Seated Slides | One-Leg Deadlift w/ Balance Challenge | Pull Through | Deadlift Combo

This compound exercise works the lower back, glutes and the hamstrings in one powerful move. Form is key for protecting your back and knees on this move and a certain amount of flexibility is required. To keep this move safe and effective, squat as low as you can, keeping the weight in the heels and the knees behind the toes. If you can't reach the floor to pick up your weights, use no weight until you're able to squat all the way down.

  1. Holding medium-heavy weights in front of the thighs, bend the knees and squat down until the thighs are parallel to the floor.
  2. Keep the abs contracted and look naturally forward to keep the neck in alignment.
  3. Place the weights on the floor and stand back up.
  4. Squat down once again and pick up the weights, again keeping the abs in, and stand back up.
  5. Continue to squat up and down, putting the weights on the floor and picking them up for 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps.
  6. If this feels too difficult, hold the weights throughout the movement rather than releasing them on the floor.

7
Barbell Deadlifts

Paige Waehner

More Hamstring Exercises: Deadlift | One-Legged Deadlift | Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hip Lifts on the Ball | Bent Knee Deadlifts | Barbell Deadlifts | Seated Slides | One-Leg Deadlift w/ Balance Challenge | Pull Through | Deadlift Combo

Like dumbbell deadlifts, barbell deadlifts target the glutes, hamstrings and the lower back. The difference is that you can often use a heavier weight when using a barbell, allowing you to add intensity to the exercise.

  1. Hold a heavy barbell with hands about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  2. Engage the abs and keep the shoulders back and the back flat as you tip from the hips, lowering the weight towards the floor.
  3. Keep the back slightly arched to protect the lower back and keep the weight close to the legs. Only lower the weight until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings, keeping the knees in a fixed position.
  4. Squeeze the glutes to stand back up without locking the joints.
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

8
Seated Slides

Paige Waehner

More Hamstring Exercises: Deadlift | One-Legged Deadlift | Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hip Lifts on the Ball | Bent Knee Deadlifts | Barbell Deadlifts | Seated Slides | One-Leg Deadlift w/ Balance Challenge | Pull Through | Deadlift Combo

If you need to exercise from a seated position and don't have access to machines, it's tough to find ways to work the hamstrings in an effective way. Seated slides offer an option for working the hamstrings while sitting in a chair. The key to making this move effective is to use your body weight to add resistance to the exercise.

  1. Sit tall in a chair, abs engaged, and place paper plates under each foot.
  2. Press the right foot hard onto the plate and push it forward, engaging the front of the leg.
  3. Continuing to press onto the plate, slide the right foot back while sliding the left foot forward.
  4. As you pull the foot back, focus on the back of the leg and keeping even pressure on the paper plate.
  5. Continue slow and controlled reps, alternating sides, for a total of 16 reps, repeating for 1-3 sets.

9
One-Legged Deadlift with a Balance Challenge

One Leg Deadlift with Balance Challenge
Paige Waehner

More Hamstring Exercises: Deadlift | One-Legged Deadlift | Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hip Lifts on the Ball | Bent Knee Deadlifts | Barbell Deadlifts | Seated Slides | One-Leg Deadlift w/ Balance Challenge | Pull Through | Deadlift Combo

One-Legged Deadlifts are excellent for shifting the focus to the hips, glutes and thighs of the working leg. You can make them even more challenging by lifting the leg as you lower the torso, which will require balance as well as core strength. Take your time with this move - you'll probably find one side is shakier than the other, so start with a light weight and practice your form before going heavier.

  1. Stand on the left leg with the right foot slightly back, resting on the toe.
  2. Hold a medium-heavy weight or barbell in front of the thigh and tip from the hips, keeping the back straight and the abs braced, bring the weight towards the floor.
  3. At the same time, lift the right leg up as you lower the weight, taking the leg up to hip level.
  4. Squeeze the glutes of the left leg to pull back up and repeat for 8-16 reps before switching sides.
  5. Keep the move slow and controlled and concentrate on keeping your balance at the same time you keep the core braced. If you feel wobbly, keep the back foot on the floor.

10
Pull Through

Paige Waehner

More Hamstring Exercises: Deadlift | One-Legged Deadlift | Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hip Lifts on the Ball | Bent Knee Deadlifts | Barbell Deadlifts | Seated Slides | One-Leg Deadlift w/ Balance Challenge | Pull Through | Deadlift Combo

The pull through is an excellent move for working the entire back body - the lower back, hamstrings and glutes. The move is similar to a deadlift, but the resistance comes from behind which takes some of the stress off the lower back. This is a great way to perfect your form for straight-legged deadlifts while strengthening the hamstrings and glutes. You can also do this move on a cable machine at the gym.

  1. Loop a resistance band around a sturdy object towards the floor and stand with your back to it, straddling the band.
  2. Stand with feet about hip-width apart and tip from the hips, keeping your back straight and your shoulders down.
  3. Slightly bend your knees, feeling a stretch in the hamstrings.
  4. Squeeze through the glutes to stand back up, pulling the band through your legs. Imagine that you're pulling from your hips rather than your arms or lower back.
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

11
Deadlift Combo

Paige Waehner

More Hamstring Exercises: Deadlift | One-Legged Deadlift | Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hamstring Rolls | One-Leg Hip Lifts on the Ball | Bent Knee Deadlifts | Barbell Deadlifts | Seated Slides | One-Leg Deadlift w/ Balance Challenge | Pull Through | Deadlift Combo

The deadlift combo is a variation of stiff leg deadlifts the involves two different movements. You start the move with a stiff leg deadlift and bend the knees at the bottom, turning it into a bent knee deadlift before raising back up. The key to this move is to keep your abs engaged and your back flat throughout the exercise to avoid lower back pain. If you have back problems, skip this exercise or try it with no weight to get your form down.

  1. Hold weights in front of the thighs and tip from the hips, keeping the back straight and shoulders back as you lower into a stiff leg deadlift.
  2. At the bottom of the movement, with the weights near shins or toes, bend the knees, continuing to keep the back straight and the hips back.
  3. Your torso should be at about a 45 degree angle, hips back and abs engaged.
  4. Push into the glutes to stand up and repeat, starting with the stiff-legged deadlift and switching to a bent-knee deadlift.
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

12
Crossover Deadlift on One Leg

crossoverdeadlift.jpg
Crossover Deadlift. Paige Waehner

Deadlifts are great for the butt and this version takes things to the next level.  Not only are you doing a deadlift on one leg, which challenges your balance, you're reaching across the body to engage the glutes and thighs in a whole new way. 

  1. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in the right hand and shift the weight onto the left leg.
  2. Tip from the hips, lifting the right leg up to hip level.
  3. At the same time, lower the weight, keeping the torso straight and the abs braced, and bring it across the body, towards the inside of your left shoe.
  4. Try keeping your hips square to the floor if you can.  Don't get frustrated if you lose your balance - this is a tough one!
  5. Push into the standing leg to come back up and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps on each side.

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