Resistance band workouts can offer you impressive benefits but what are some resistance band exercises you can do for stronger hamstring muscles?
Resistance bands are an inexpensive type of fitness equipment that are basically elastic cords. You can use this piece of exercise equipment to modify regular exercises or to do specific resistance band exercises.
For many of these exercises, you can just anchor resistance bands under your feet. For some, you may want to consider investing in specific resistance band anchors for comfort and safety reasons.
Keep in mind that even though there are many benefits, 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.
Many popular leg exercises like squats, lunges, and step-ups focus a lot on your quadriceps, your front upper leg muscles. That makes it even more important to give your hamstrings, your back thigh muscles, a good workout to keep things in balance.
1. Hamstring curl
If you are looking for an exercise to only focus your hamstring muscles, the resistance band hamstring curl is likely a good choice.
For this version of the exercise, you need to anchor your resistance band at about ground height or behind your other leg. To do a hamstring curl with an anchor take the following steps:
- Safely anchor your resistance band close to the ground. Lie on your stomach in front of the anchor with your feet toward it. Put the free end of the resistance band behind one or both of your ankles.
- Slowly fold your legs at the knees until the point where the resistance is stretched the most. This will likely be at about where your lower legs make a 45-degree angle to the ground.
- Stretch your legs again in a controlled motion.
If the resistance band is not challenging enough to do two legs at a time you can do one leg first. Then the other to avoid muscle imbalances. You can also do a resistance band hamstring curl while standing up.
This next hamstring exercise is one where you need an anchor somewhere close to the ground. In theory, you could also anchor the resistance band under your feet but this will make the exercise a lot less effective.
To do a resistance band pull-through take the following steps:
- Stand right next to the anchor with your back toward it. Grab the resistance band through your legs and hold it at upper thigh height.
- Walk forward until you reach the desired tension for the exercise. Stand up straight with your feet at about shoulder width or slightly wider. Make sure you don’t hunch your shoulders.
- Bend your knees slightly and bend your upper body forward as far as you can without bending your back. The folding comes from your hips, not your lower back.
- Alternate between the positions in step 3 and step 4.
This exercise focuses on your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. These muscles almost inevitably work together. The most important thing is that the pull-through is a great exercise option to work out your hamstrings with resistance bands.
3. Good morning
In the gym a good morning is often done with a weighted barbell but you can certainly also use resistance bands to do this hamstring exercise at home or anywhere else. To do a good morning take the following steps:
- Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width. Anchor the resistance band under your feet.
- Tilt your upper body forward slightly while keeping your back straight. At the same time lower your body by bending your knees as far as necessary for the initial anchoring.
- Safely anchor the rest of the resistance band behind the back of your neck/shoulders.
- Return to the starting position in a controlled motion.
- Bend your knees slightly and tilt your upper body forward as far as is comfortable with a straight back (but not farther than a horizontal line).
- Alternate between step 4 and step 5 for a certain number of repetitions.
The resistance band good morning may look similar to a back squat but you go a lot less through your knees. This makes it so you focus more on training your hamstrings and glutes and less on the rest of your leg muscles.
4. Donkey kick
To do a donkey kick take the following steps:
- Start with your face facing the floor with your hands on the ground, your arms stretched, back straight, and your knees on the ground. Loop a mini resistance band close to your knees around your upper legs.
- Move one foot upward until the upper leg of this side is in 1 line with your body. Keep your knees at 90-degree angles throughout the movement. Keep the rest of your body in the same position.
- Lower this leg back into the position of step 1 in a controlled motion.
- Repeat with your other leg.
For resistance band donkey kicks and other exercises that take place on the floor, it can be helpful to invest in something like a yoga mat if you have no other soft surface to do the exercise on.
5. Romanian deadlift
The next hamstring exercise can be a good option with slightly shorter resistance bands. To do a Romanian deadlift take the following steps:
- Stand with your feet at more or less shoulder width. Anchor the resistance bands under your feet. Bend your knees and pick up the resistance bands. Keep your back straight throughout the exercise.
- Stretch your legs again until you stand up with your feet at more or less shoulder width and your knees slightly bent. Let your arms follow the pull to the ground throughout the exercise but hold the resistance bands tightly.
- Slightly tilt your upper body forward as far as you can without bending your back or knees or until your hands are right below knee height.
- Alternate between the positions in step 2 and step 3.
Good technique is important in any exercise to avoid injuries but especially so for Romanian deadlifts.
Before trying to deadlift with the heaviest resistance bands it is smart to improve your technique first by starting with light or no resistance bands at all.
The Romanian deadlift focuses more on your hamstrings and glutes and less on your leg muscles compared to the regular resistance band deadlift.
6. Glute kickback
The glute kickback is generally done with a cable machine but you can also use a resistance band as an alternative. To do a glute kickback with a resistance band take the following steps:
- Anchor the resistance band as close to the ground as possible and attach the other end securely to your ankle. You preferably want an actual ankle strap since your leg will move a lot.
- Stand with your face toward the anchor. You may need to hold a sturdy object during the exercise for balance.
- Lean forward to about a 45-degree angle to a vertical line.
- Slowly move the foot with the resistance band back and with your knee slightly bent until your leg is stretched at an angle somewhat more vertical than just a horizontal line.
- Return your foot to starting position in a controlled motion.
As the name implies, the cable glute kickback is generally done to strengthen your glutes but this means a lot of hamstring muscle engagement too.
7. Back extension
While you can do some forms of back extensions at home it is generally recommended to use a back extension machine or roman chair for this hamstring exercise. To do a back extension with the dedicated machine and a resistance band take the following steps:
- Anchor the resistance at front of the back extension machine
- Take place in the back extension machine. Keep a straight back for now. Make sure you are locked in place safely.
- Slowly bend down as far as you can while keeping your back straight. The bending movement comes from your hips, not your back. Pick up the resistance bands and hold them against your chest or a different place for different resistance levels.
- Move up your upper body in a controlled motion until your body is in a straight line.
- Alternate between the positions in step 3 and step 4.
By doing weighted back extensions with resistance bands you make the exercise more challenging for your hamstrings, lower back, and glutes. In turn, this can lead to more and faster muscle gain.
Like with all of the exercises on this list you want to be careful about adding too much resistance too fast. Start with light or no resistance bands and if that goes well you can slowly try out heavier bands.
8. Hip thrust
Hip thrusts are similar to glute bridges but instead of doing them on the ground, you will need a bench or any other stable object of the right height. To do a hip thrust with a resistance band take the following steps:
- Anchor the resistance band right below your hips, below your feet, or at the bottom of the bench.
- Sit right in front of the bench or other object you will use with your back slightly over the edge. Make sure the object is stable. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width in a position where your knees will be at a 90-degree angle in the next step. Hold the resistance band over your hips.
- Move up your hips until your body is in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Slowly lower your body again.
Free weights are typically used to make hip thrusts more challenging since the resistance set up is often not ideal. Often it is more practical to the pull-through exercise instead of the resistance band hip thrust.