Get Rid of Cottage Cheese Thighs with these Three Hamstring Exercises
Last summer, my fiancé and I took engagement photos in Charleston, SC. I wore this adorable romper that showed off my long long legs (that got quickly devoured by mosquitos). When we finally got the photos back, my future mother-in-law and I were looking at them and she let out a “Dang, girl! Look at you!” There was a shot of us where I was foot-popping, and my hamstring looked fantastic (if I do say so myself)! I want everyone to feel like that when they’re foot-popping, so let’s talk about how to get there!
Before lifting, remember to stretch! If you have a job where you’re mostly sitting or driving, chances are your hamstrings are a little tight. Tight hamstrings are not at an optimal length for proper strengthening or adaptations, so stretch those puppies out. Here are some quick examples:
Here’s a great video on how to stretch your hamstrings:
STABILITY BALL HAMSTRING CURL
Now that you’re all warmed up, let’s get to the lifting! One of my favorites is a stability ball hamstring curl. This exercise targets hamstrings, as well as glutes and core.
A. Start laying on your back with the stability ball under your calves and arms by your sides.
B. Lift your hips up off the floor, then pull your heels toward your rear. Extend your legs and return to the starting position.
*As an extra core challenge, keep your hips off the floor throughout the entire set.
SINGLE LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFT
Another classic, the single leg Romanian deadlift. When done properly, provides excellent strength and definition in the hamstrings, as well as improvements in balance, core control, and back muscles.
Note: can be performed with two weights, one weight, or no weight. If using one weight, hold it in the hand opposite the leg you’re standing on. Be wary of trunk rotation!
A. Start standing upright with good posture (shoulders back and down, open chest). Shift weight onto one leg.
B. Hinge at the hip maintaining a flat back and keeping the weights close to your legs. Make sure BOTH hips are facing the ground! When you feel a tug in the back of your leg or reach parallel, use your hamstring and glute to return to standing.
GLUTE HAM RAISE
Finally, let’s round things out with a challenge: the glute-ham raise. This one is really tough and requires excellent core and hip control. You can regress by moving through a smaller arc of motion. You can also do this exercise on the floor with a partner holding your ankles.
A. Start in a tall kneeling position with a neutral spine. Brace your abdominals.
B. Lower yourself until your trunk is parallel to the floor, then use your hamstrings and glutes to pull yourself back up to the starting position.
These exercises are sure to do the trick, so let’s talk numbers: What are the magic variables that will bring your foot-popping to elite status? If you are indeed looking to get a little extra “bulge” from your hamstring muscle belly, try 3 SETS OF 8-10 REPS. Start with no weights and work your way up slowly. Remember to rest muscle groups 48-72 hours between workouts and to stretch before and after!
Content Contributor: Erin Blaser is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science. She enjoys Olympic lifting, yoga, and cycling, as well as outdoor activities. Her passion is to inspire others to take responsibility for their health, and support them in their preventative care plans through coaching, training, and providing reliable resources.
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