6 Hamstring Exercises You Can Do In Any CrossFit or Weightlifting Gym
Crossfitters and weightlifters usually don’t have the luxury of prone leg curl machines and other standard pieces of equipment you would get in any typical commercial gym. This means you have to get creative with what you have at your disposal when it comes to exercise variations, especially when you’re training muscles that are harder to isolate.
So, I’ve made a short list of effective exercises to target the hammies with respect to equipment you would typically find at any CrossFit gym.
Here are five of the best hamstring exercises for Crossfitters:
1. NORDIC HAMSTRING CURL
This is a pretty advanced movement and isn’t for the faint of heart. This will crush your hamstrings and is a great tool for eccentric loading. Get a partner or weight to hold your feet down, and practice controlling the eccentric (lowering) portion as long as you can and brace with your arms. Continue to train the eccentric until you can eventually go through the full range of motion and start implementing concentric loading. This will burn, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
2. SINGLE LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFT
Any time you take a bilateral movement (in this case, the deadlift), and make it one-sided, you’re challenging more muscle groups to stabilize the body. You can perform this as a contralateral (opposite sides) or ipsilateral (same side) variation. In other words, you can hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand while balancing on the opposite leg or the same leg. Opposite leg allows for more stability with ipsilateral deadlifts creating more challenge in the core to stabilize the torso from rotation during hip hinge and extension.
3. VERTICAL SHIN STEP UP
Usually when you perform a step up, the natural tendency is to shift our weight forward above our supporting foot so our centre of gravity is balanced. With the vertical shin step up, the idea is to keep the shin at a perfect 90 degree angle, while ‘pulling’ yourself up the riser with your hamstrings until hips are fully extended. Activate the hamstrings by placing your foot onto the riser, having your shin completely vertical, and keeping a ‘heavy’ foot by pushing it through the riser and ‘dragging’ it back without moving the foot. This creates activation in the hamstring and forces you to pull yourself up to the box with the posterior muscles.
4. ROWER LEG CURL
Just like the stability ball leg curl, except better in my opinion. I get a lot of hamstring concentration using the rower with this leg curl variation. You would think it would be easier than using a stability ball given the fact that the rower is on a ‘guided’ path, but quite the opposite is true. The pre-determined path the rower travels on allows you to dial in to your hamstrings much more effectively. Give it a shot. This will be your new favourite way to crush your hamstrings, guaranteed.
5. SINGLE LEG HIP BRIDGE
An oldie but a goldie. There’s tons of ways to perform this movement. You can do it flat on the floor, with one foot elevated on the wall, have your shoulders set up against a bench…The possibilities are endless with this one.
6. SINGLE LEG ECCENTRIC HAMSTRING CURL
This one is my favourite. Increasing difficulty in exercises doesn’t always mean adding more weight or reps. Slowing down your tempo and controlling your movement through the eccentric phases of exercises challenges the body in new ways. This one will make your hamstrings buuuuurn.
Your hamstrings are a crucial component to your performance in and out of the gym and are often neglected. Tackle these movements next time you’re training!