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Bodyweight exercises can be great up to a certain point. Likely soon you need equipment to keep gaining a lot of hamstring muscle.
The way you build muscle in places like your hamstrings is by straining and damaging your muscles. This may seem counterintuitive but this makes it so your body starts processes to repair them and build a little extra to be better prepared for similar efforts in the future.
Generally the more weight you have to move, the easier it becomes to strain your muscles enough for muscle growth in a short amount of time. On top of that, while there are hamstring bodyweight exercises, these muscles are generally hard to work out without equipment.
In short, you will likely benefit from implementing some of the equipment on this list in your hamstring workouts. Keep in mind that even though there are upsides, your injury risk is generally also higher when you do exercises with more weight/resistance. You may want to talk to your primary care provider before starting a new workout routine.
Hamstring exercise equipment at home
Most people know that you can build muscle at the gym. Luckily you don’t need the full setup of an entire gym to get in a good hamstring workout. One or two relatively inexpensive pieces of fitness equipment are often enough.
Resistance bands are an inexpensive type of fitness equipment that are basically elastic cords. This piece of exercise equipment is one of the top options for training your hamstrings at home. As an exercise example, you can easily set up a lying hamstring curl with resistance bands.
Some of the benefits of resistance bands are that they are relatively inexpensive, easy to store, and very portable. They can also be used in other exercises to train your arms, abs, back, and chest muscles.
One downside is that resistance bands are not the type of gym equipment you can use for the rest of your life. At least every few years you will need to replace the last set with new resistance bands.
Some exercises will also require you to anchor your resistance bands somewhere. Sometimes you can attach them to objects that are already around the house. Even so, it is likely safer to get an inexpensive resistance band anchor to avoid any problems.
Fitness sliders are small patches of fabric that easily slide on the floor. This makes it so you can use this piece of equipment to train your hamstrings.
Lie down on your back on the floor with a fitness slider under each of your heels. After that bring your heels to your body until your lower legs point straight up. Keep your body straight from your knees to your shoulders during the exercise.
One of the benefits of fitness sliders is that they are extremely inexpensive. You can also use them for other exercises, mainly core workouts.
The downside is that they are only mainly useful for hamstring and core exercises. And even the hamstring exercise mentioned may become relatively easy relatively quickly.
Barbell with weights
A barbell is a long bar that can hold weight plates. The main reason a barbell is a specific option is because it allows you to do a hamstring isolation exercise called the nordic hamstring curl. This exercise does not use the barbell as extra weight to lift, but as an anchor for your legs.
To complete the setup you need heavy weight plates and preferably a soft pad for your knees and a barbell pad for your ankles. After that, you anchor your heels behind the barbell. Slowly tilt your body forward as far as you safely can.
The end goal is being able to go horizontally but if you do not train hamstrings a lot you will likely have to let go at some point and catch your fall with your arms. You can keep doing eccentric (going down) hamstring curls only and raise yourself with the rest of your body. Or you can find how far you can go down and at that point raise your body again in a controlled motion.
A benefit of investing in a barbell for your home workouts is that it allows you to do many other exercises for a variety of body parts. Another benefit of a barbell is that it generally lasts an extremely long time. One investment can potentially improve your workouts for many years and potentially even decades.
On top of that, a barbell does not really lose its value a lot. This means that if you decide to stop using the barbell you can likely sell it for a very similar price as what you put into it.
The disadvantage is that a barbell with weight plates often requires a slightly bigger investment compared to more short-term fitness equipment like resistance bands.
Free weights are heavy pieces of fitness equipment that are not attached anywhere. Some examples of free weights are dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates, certain exercise sandbags, wrist weights, etc.
When it comes to thigh exercises, these types of weights are mainly helpful for exercises that target both your glutes and hamstrings. Some examples include the Romanian deadlift, weighted back extensions, the good morning, etc.
Similar to a barbell, free weights can be used in a lot of exercises, they last a long time, and they generally do not really lose their value.
Another similarity with a barbell is that free weights often require a slightly bigger investment compared to more short-term fitness equipment like resistance bands.
Ab wheel with foot attachment
An ab wheel is a piece of gym equipment that looks either like 1 wheel with handles on each side or 2 wheels with a handle in between. As the name implies, this fitness equipment is generally used for ab workouts.
However, there are variations of this ab wheel that also allow you to strap in on your feet. Because of this you can do the same hamstring exercise as with the fitness sliders with the ab wheel.
One downside is that this exercise can become easy for your hamstrings relatively fast. An advantage of this piece of fitness equipment is that it can still offer you an amazing core workout when this becomes the case.
Ankle weights are simply straps with some extra weight that are attached to your ankles. They can be used in a variety of exercises, including ones that strengthen your hamstrings.
The donkey kick is one example of an ankle weight exercise that engages your hamstrings.
Just like resistance bands, good ankle weights are relatively inexpensive, easy to store, and very portable. Often you can also use them as wrist weights.
This opens up the possibility of making a variety of upper body exercises more challenging too.
One potential downside of ankle weights is that they generally only come in light weights compared to some of the other options on this list.
Whether or not this is a disadvantage depends on the hamstring exercises you choose and your personal capabilities.
A stability ball, also known as an exercise or yoga ball, is a soft elastic ball that can be used to improve multiple fitness components. This piece of equipment is generally used for core exercises but you can also do a hamstring roll with the stability ball.
This exercise is similar to an ab wheel hamstring rollout. You start with your legs on the ball, a stretched body, and your shoulders on the ground. You then curl your legs as far as safely possible with the help of your hamstring muscles.
The advantage of the stability ball is that it can be used in other exercises for other body parts too. It is also a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment.
The main downside when it comes to hamstring workouts is that the hamstring roll becomes easy relatively fast.
Gym or home gym hamstring exercise equipment
It is also possible to use gym machines for hamstring muscle workouts. Below you can find some examples of these machines.
Hamstring curl machine
If you are looking for a gym machine made to only focus your hamstring muscles, the hamstring curl machine is what you need. On a curl machine you either take place in a seat or lie on your stomach with your legs stretched with your lower legs behind pads with added resistance.
To do the exercise you push against the pads by folding your legs at the knees. This movement mainly engages your hamstrings. By adding resistance with the machine you can build more muscle faster.
The cable machine is a type of gym machine where a steel frame holds weights and pulleys. Thanks to the cable going through these pulleys and attached to these weights you can do many types of strength training exercises for a wide variety of muscles.
The main hamstring exercise for the cable machine is the same as resistance bands, the lying hamstring curl. For this option, you need an ankle strap handle and the pulley at a setting low to the ground.
Besides the lying hamstring curl you can also use the cable machine to do exercises like the good morning, Romanian deadlift, and pull-through to train your hamstring muscles. For these other exercises, you will need other grip attachments.
Glute ham raise machine
The glute ham raise machine is a setup where you lie horizontally. This machine consists of two main parts. The first is a place where you anchor your feet with one pad behind your heels on one pad on your upper feet. The second part is a rounded pad at the height of your upper legs.
To do the glute ham raise exercise adjust the machine for you personally and start with your body in one straight line. As a first step slowly lower your upper body down as far as you can while keeping your back straight. Keep your back straight through the entire exercise.
After that elevate your upper body until your body is in one straight line. For the second part, you fold your legs at the knees until your body is straight up from the knees to your head. The first part also engages your hamstrings but the second part is more focused on your hamstrings alone.
Lastly, lower yourself back into a horizontal position.
Back extension machine
The back extension machine is a steel set up with a place you can anchor your legs behind and a pad to lean on with your hips. If you take place in it and keep your body straight you are at about 45 degrees to the ground. This machine is made to do the exercise with the same name, a back extension.
If you are more experienced and you want to, you can hold external weights like a weight plate to do weighted back extensions. When done at the right time with the right technique this can lead to more and faster increases in hamstring strength.
An advantage of the best back extension machines is that they are often not that expensive.
If you plan on improving your hamstring, glute, and lower back strength you can consider investing in this machine so you don’t have to make the trip to the gym.
The smith machine looks similar to a squat rack but there are a few differences which make the smith machine more of a machine.
First of all, the barbell is attached to a rail system. This makes it so it can only move up or down alongside these rails and not forward or backward. Secondly, it has a system where you can rack the barbell at any height.
Some hamstring exercises with the smith machine include the nordic hamstring curl, good morning, and Romanian deadlift. The smith machine makes it so the movement in these exercises is fixed. In turn, this leads to more focus on your hamstring muscles and less on other balance muscles.