Hamstring Strengthening Exercises
By Karl Orishimo, MS, CSCS
Hamstring strains are a very common injury in many sports such as soccer, rugby and track and field resulting in significant time loss to the athlete. Recurrence rates for this injury have been reported to be as high as 30%. These injuries typically occur as the muscles contract eccentrically (i.e. the muscles are stretched as they work) such as during running or kicking a ball. In order to prevent these injuries and their recurrence, the hamstrings must be strong enough to resist the high forces experienced during these types of activities.
Our research has shown that hamstring strength can be improved using the simple, eccentrically-biased exercises listed below. These exercises use mostly body weight as resistance, require minimal equipment and can easily be performed in the gym or in the home. This program should be performed three times per week for four weeks and in circuit fashion (i.e. perform one set of each exercise on each leg and then move onto the next exercise). We recommend performing three rounds of the circuit, starting with 10 repetitions of each exercise on each leg for the first week and then increasing to 12 repetitions the second week and 15 repetitions in the third and fourth weeks.