7 Banded Hamstring Exercises For Stronger Legs

Banded Hamstring Exercises

Whether you're an athlete, a bodybuilder, or a regular gym goer, you ignore your hamstrings at your peril. As a former sports fitness coach, I've seen my share of hamstring injuries. In fact, weak hammies are one of the leading causes of on-field injury.

Fortunately, training hamstrings don't have to be complicated. In fact, you can get in an effective hamstring workout with nothing but a twenty-dollar set of resistance bands. This article will show you how to do just that. We'll highlight the seven best band exercises for hamstrings you can do at home and provide some expert training tips to make your hamstring workouts as effective as possible.

Hamstring Anatomy and Function

The hamstrings are a group of three major muscles located at the back of the thigh: the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. These muscles originate from the hip bone and attach to the tibia and fibula bones below the knee, crossing both the hip and knee joints.

The hamstrings play a pivotal role in hip extension, allowing you to move your thigh backward. This motion is especially important in activities like running, sprinting, and jumping.

Another crucial function of the hamstrings is knee flexion, enabling you to bend your knee. This action is involved in activities like walking, climbing stairs, and squatting.

The biceps femoris, one of the hamstring muscles, also contributes to the rotation of the leg, assisting in movements such as pivoting during sports or twisting during everyday activities.

Beyond movement, the hamstrings stabilize the hip and knee joints, ensuring proper alignment and preventing excessive motion that could lead to injury.

During physical activities that involve forward motion, such as running or cycling, the hamstrings help decelerate leg movement to control speed and prevent injury.

Importance and Benefits of Banded Hamstring Exercises

Resistance bands provide a cost-effective way to work your muscles against resistance. They allow you to simulate bulky, expensive gym equipment like a leg curl machine for just a few bucks and to do so safely. Here are four specific benefits of using bands for hamstring training:

Better Muscle Activation

Resistance bands provide continuous variable tension, leading to improved hamstring activation. This tension forces your muscles to work harder with each repetition, promoting better muscle growth and strength results.

Muscle and Strength Gain

Using resistance bands for hamstring exercises can lead to muscle hypertrophy and strength gain. They allow you to overload your muscles progressively, a critical factor in muscle adaptation.

Multiple Exercise Options

With resistance bands, you have a vast range of exercise options for all major muscle groups, including the hamstrings. This variety keeps your workouts engaging and effective.

Convenient Anywhere Workouts

Resistance bands are portable, making it easy to work on your hamstrings at home, outdoors, or while travelling. This convenience ensures you can maintain consistency in your training routine.

7 Best Banded Hamstring Exercises

Resistance Band Lying Hamstring Curl

To perform a band lying hamstring curl, you'll need a resistance band and a stable anchor point, such as a sturdy post or a bar. Begin by securing one end of the resistance band to the anchor point at floor level.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Lie face down on a flat surface, ensuring that your hips and the front of your thighs are in contact with the ground. Extend your legs fully, keeping them together.
  2. Hook the other end of the resistance band onto one of your heels. Ensure it's securely fastened.
  3. Initiate the curling motion by bending your knee and pulling your heel toward your buttocks using the resistance from the band. As you curl your leg, maintain contact with the ground using your hips and thighs.
  4. Continue curling your leg until it reaches its maximum range of motion and you feel a strong contraction in your hamstring muscles.
  5. In a controlled manner, extend your knee to return your leg to the starting position. Keep resisting the pull of the band as you do this.

Romanian Deadlift with Resistance Band

Select a resistance band for the deadlift that suits your strength level. The band should provide enough resistance to challenge your muscles but not be too heavy to compromise your form. Place the band on the ground and step onto its center with both feet. This creates two loops that you'll use as handles.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Stand with your feet positioned no wider than hip-width apart. Unlike the traditional deadlift, a narrower stance is maintained throughout the exercise.
  2. Hold each end of the band with your palms facing your body and stand up. This is the starting position for the resistance band Romanian deadlift.
  3. Begin the movement by pushing your butt back, initiating a hip hinge. This action allows your hips to move back while keeping your back straight. Make sure your shoulders are pulled back and your spine remains in a neutral position.
  4. As you hinge at the hips, allow only a slight bend in your knees to accommodate the downward motion of your hands. Your primary focus is on hip flexion, not knee flexion.
  5. Continue lowering until your hands pass your knees. Maintain the natural arch in your lower back.
  6. Flex your glutes and drive your hips forward to return to the start position. In the top position, your knees should be as straight as possible, and your chest held high.

Nordic Hamstring Curl with Resistance Band

Loop a resistance band around a secure high anchor point, such as the top of a power rack or internal doorway. You will also have to secure your ankles to stay securely in place throughout the Nordic curl.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Stand about three feet in front of the anchor point, facing away from it, with the band held in your hands with an overhand grip.
  2. Kneel on the floor, hooking your ankles under an anchor point to secure them in place. If you don't have an anchor, have a partner hold your feet down. Hold the band at chest level.
  3. Slowly lower your torso toward the floor, controlling the descent. Stop when your torso is at a 45-degree angle.
  4. Use your hamstrings to pull your torso back to the start position.

Seated Hamstring Curl with Resistance Band

Place a weight bench about four feet from your band anchor point. Now secure a looped resistance band to a low (12 inches from the floor) and stable anchor, such as a post, squat rack, or by using a band door anchor on an internal door.

Grab the opposite end of the resistance band and, facing the anchor point, fasten it over your feet, just above the heels. Ensure the band is firmly and securely fastened to avoid slipping during the exercise.

Now, sit on the bench, adjusting so there is tension in the band.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Grab the edges of the bench for support and extend your legs in front of you. Your knees should be slightly bent so that your leg is not completely straight.
  2. In one fluid motion, bend your knees to pull the band toward you against the resistance. As you bend your knees, focus on engaging your hamstring muscles.
  3. Pull the band back as far as you can, ideally past the 90-degree angle at your knees, to get a full range of motion. This will activate your hamstring muscles more effectively.
  4. Slowly extend your knees to return to the start position. Keep control of the band and maintain proper form throughout the movement.

Band Donkey Kickback

Find a stable object to hold onto, such as a bench or a chair, positioned in front of you. Stand facing this support object with the resistance band looped just above your ankles. Your right foot should be slightly behind the left foot, and your feet should be hip-width apart. This should create tension in the band.

Place your hands on the support bench or chair.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Initiate the movement by kicking your right foot back and up. Extend your hips and fully straighten your knees to engage your hamstrings and glute muscles. Perform the movement slowly, taking approximately about seconds to reach full extension. Focus on maintaining control throughout the entire range of motion.
  2. Once you've reached full extension, briefly hold the position for about 2 seconds.
  3. Lower your leg under control to return to the starting position.
  4. Complete all your reps on the right side and then repeat with the left leg.
  5. Band Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

Band Pull Through

Place the band on the ground and step onto its center with both your right foot. The band should be under the arch of your foot. This creates two loops that you'll use as handles. Grab those handles and stand with feet hip-width apart.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Hinge at the hips to bring your torso towards the floor. At the same time, extend your left leg back and up.
  2. Continue to go down until your hands are just below knee level.
  3. Hold the top leg extended position for a 2-second count.
  4. Return to the start position under control and repeat for the desired rep count.
  5. Repeat on the other leg.

Wrap-Up: Putting It All Together

You should work your hamstrings twice per week, allowing at least 48 hours between sessions. This provides the ideal balance between stimulation and recovery. I recommend doing no more than ten sets per workout, spread over three movements. Your reps should range from a high of 20 to a low of 6. This will ensure that you're developing hamstring endurance, strength, and muscle mass.

Here's a sample workout that I use with my in-home personal training clients:

  • Band Lying Hamstring Curl: 3 x 20 / 15 / 10 reps
  • Band Romanian Deadlift: 3 x 15 reps
  • Band Donkey Kickback: 3 x 12 each leg

Maintain consistency, progressively increase the band resistance level, and keep your form tight, and you'll be rewarded with stronger, more powerful hamstrings.