Best Exercises for Hamstrings

The hamstring muscle group is responsible for knee flexion, meaning moving the ankle closer to the hip. Think of it as the bicep for the leg.

Seated Leg Curl

Seated Leg Curl

While deadlift is often recommended as the best exercise to train the hamstrings, it seems like a flawed advice if taking into account the primary function of the hamstrings. The deadlift involves hip flexion and hip extension. The glutes are responsible for hip extension and are going to be the primary mover during a deadlift.

Exercises involving knee flexion target the hamstrings more effectively. Seated or prone leg curl is going to be the best exercise to progressively load the muscle.


  1. Sit down on the machine
  2. Position the legs on top of the lower pad
  3. Squeeze the hamstrings to maximally bend the knees
  4. Slowly, return to starting position

Nordic Hamstring Curl

Nordic Curl

If a hamstring curl machine is not available, the Nordic Hamstring Curl is a good alternative. It provides a greater eccentric load but is more difficult to load consistently concentrically.


  1. Hook your heels under a sturdy object or have a partner hold them
  2. Kneel down with your body upright
  3. Lean forward while keeping your hips and back straight
  4. Flex your hamstrings and slowly let your body descend to the floor
  5. Flex your hamstrings to return to starting position

Why Laurel?

Get personalized exercise recommendations that fit your schedule and equipment, instructions and tips to properly perform them, and reminders to work out the muscles you are neglecting.