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Daniel Mesa

7 Best Hamstring Barbell Exercises

Are you eager to develop strong, powerhouse hamstrings that look great and support you in your daily activities?

Do you want to discover efficient ways to add muscle to the back of your legs?

If your answer is yes, then you’re in the perfect spot!

In this guide, we’ll delve into a selection of top-notch barbell hamstring exercises. These exercises are your ticket to achieving your fitness objectives and elevating your leg training game.

Whether you’re a fitness veteran or just beginning your journey, incorporating barbell exercises into your regimen can help you cultivate functional strength, boost your athletic prowess, and enhance your overall physique.

Best Barbell Hamstring Exercises

1. Barbell Romanian Deadlift

How to Do Barbell Romanian Deadlift:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell with an overhand grip.
  2. Keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent, hinge at your hips to lower the barbell toward your shins.
  3. Lower until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, then return to the starting position.

Barbell Romanian Deadlift Benefits:

  • Targets hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
  • Improves hamstring flexibility.
  • Enhances overall posterior chain strength.

2. Barbell Hamstring Curl

How to Do Barbell Hamstring Curl:

  1. Lie face-down on a bench with your knees just off the edge.
  2. Secure a barbell with weights on both ends under your feet.
  3. Flex your knees to curl the barbell upward, squeezing your hamstrings.
  4. Lower the barbell back to the starting position.

Barbell Hamstring Curl Benefits:

  • Isolates the hamstrings for focused development.
  • Builds hamstring strength and definition.
  • Reduces the risk of hamstring injuries.

3. Barbell Good Morning

How to Do Barbell Good Morning:

  1. Place a barbell across your upper back, as if preparing for a squat.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Keeping your back straight, bend at your hips, pushing your buttocks back.
  4. Lower your upper body until it’s nearly parallel to the ground, then return to an upright position.

Barbell Good Morning Benefits:

  • Targets hamstrings, lower back, and glutes.
  • Improves hamstring flexibility and hip mobility.
  • Develops core stability.

4. Barbell Glute Bridge

How to Do Barbell Glute Bridge:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place a barbell across your hips.
  3. Push through your heels to lift your hips toward the ceiling, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  4. Lower your hips back to the floor.

Barbell Glute Bridge Benefits:

  • Engages hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
  • Enhances glute activation and strength.
  • Improves hip stability.

5. Barbell Single-Leg Deadlift

How to Do Barbell Single-Leg Deadlift:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell in front of your thighs.
  2. Shift your weight to one leg and hinge at your hips, extending the other leg straight behind you.
  3. Lower the barbell towards the ground while keeping your back straight.
  4. Return to the starting position.

Barbell Single-Leg Deadlift Benefits:

  • Isolates and strengthens each hamstring individually.
  • Enhances balance and stability.
  • Develops hip mobility.

6. Barbell Squat with Resistance Band

How to Do Barbell Squat with Resistance Band:

  1. Attach a resistance band to the bottom of a squat rack and secure it around your hips.
  2. Hold a barbell across your upper back as you would in a regular squat.
  3. Perform squats as usual, but with the added resistance of the band.

Barbell Squat with Resistance Band Benefits:

  • Increases resistance throughout the squat movement.
  • Engages hamstrings, quads, and glutes.
  • Builds explosive strength.

7. Barbell Step-Ups

How to Do Barbell Step-Ups:

  1. Place a bench in front of you and hold a barbell across your upper back.
  2. Step onto the bench with one foot and stand up, bringing your other knee toward your chest.
  3. Step back down and repeat with the other leg.

Barbell Step-Ups Benefits:

  • Targets hamstrings, quads, and glutes.
  • Improves lower body strength and stability.
  • Enhances balance and coordination.

Alternatives To Barbell Hamstring Exercises

While barbell exercises are excellent for hamstring development, there are alternative approaches that can add variety to your training regimen. These alternatives often use different equipment or even just your body weight. Here are some effective options:

1. Dumbbell Hamstring Exercises

How to Do Dumbbell Hamstring Exercises:

  • Replace the barbell with dumbbells in exercises like Romanian deadlifts or single-leg deadlifts.

Dumbbell Hamstring Exercises Benefits:

  • Dumbbells offer versatility in training. You can adjust the weight easily to match your fitness level and goals.
  • Using dumbbells allows you to perform unilateral (one-sided) exercises. This can help correct muscle imbalances, as each leg works independently.

2. Cable Hamstring Exercises

How to Do Cable Hamstring Exercises:

  • Use a cable machine with an ankle strap attachment to perform hamstring curls.

Cable Hamstring Exercises Benefits:

  • Cable machines provide constant tension throughout the entire range of motion, which can lead to more effective muscle activation and development.
  • Cables allow for both concentric (muscle shortening) and eccentric (muscle lengthening) training, helping you build well-rounded hamstring strength.

3. Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises

How to Do Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises:

  • Try exercises like glute bridges, single-leg bridges, or bodyweight hamstring curls.

Bodyweight Hamstring Exercises Benefits:

  • These exercises require minimal or no equipment, making them accessible for home workouts or when you don’t have access to a gym.
  • Bodyweight hamstring exercises are an excellent choice for home workouts when you can’t use barbells or machines.

Incorporating these alternatives into your routine can provide a fresh challenge to your hamstrings and help you continue to progress in your training. Mix and match these exercises to create a well-rounded hamstring workout routine. Remember to focus on proper form and gradually increase the intensity to see the best results.

Hamstring Anatomy And Function

To really get why we’re working on our hamstrings, let’s understand what they are and what they do.

Your hamstrings are like a trio of muscles at the back of your thigh. They have interesting names:

  1. Biceps Femoris: This muscle is the outermost of your hamstring group. It runs along the lateral or outer side of your thigh.
  2. Semitendinosus: Found at the center of your hamstring group, the semitendinosus muscle plays a significant role in the overall function of your hamstrings.
  3. Semimembranosus: Positioned on the inner side of your hamstring, the semimembranosus muscle completes this trio of muscles.

Now, what do these muscles do? Well, they have two main jobs:

  • Bending Your Knee: When you bend your knee, like when you take a step or bring your heel close to your bum, your hamstrings are at work.
  • Stretching Your Hip: Imagine standing up straight from a bent position or pushing your hip back; that’s your hamstrings helping out. These actions are crucial for things like running, jumping, and even picking stuff up from the ground.

Apart from these jobs, your hamstrings also make sure your pelvis (the bony part around your hips) stays steady while you move. So, they’re kind of like your body’s natural stabilizers.

In simple terms, your hamstrings are the muscles at the back of your thigh that help you do things like walk, jump, and keep your balance. They’re pretty important!

Benefits Of Stronger Hamstrings

Strengthening your hamstrings has many benefits:

Reduced Injury Risk

When your hamstrings are strong, they can help prevent common injuries like hamstring strains and tears. These injuries often happen during sports or everyday activities, but strong hamstrings act like a protective shield.

Improved Athletic Performance

Having powerful hamstrings can make you better at sports and other physical activities. It’s like having a turbo boost for running faster, jumping higher, and doing quick, explosive movements.

Enhanced Posture

Strong hamstrings play a role in keeping your posture upright. They act like the strings that hold up a puppet. By stabilizing your pelvis and lower back, they help you stand tall and avoid slouching.

Lower Back Support

Your lower back gets crucial help from your hamstrings. A strong “back chain” that includes your hamstrings acts like a strong foundation for your lower back, reducing the chances of lower back pain.

Functional Fitness

Think of strong hamstrings as your secret weapon for everyday activities. They make everyday tasks easier, from climbing stairs to lifting heavy objects. Strong hamstrings mean you’re ready for whatever life throws at you.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know these seven barbell hamstring exercises, you’re on your way to building stronger and more flexible legs. 

Just remember, start with weights that feel comfortable, make sure you’re doing each exercise the right way, and gradually make things a bit tougher to get even better results. 

Strong hamstrings will not only make your legs look great but also help you move better and feel better in everyday activities. So, have fun with your workouts and keep those hamstrings in top shape!


How often should I train my hamstrings?

Aim for 2-3 hamstring workouts per week, allowing sufficient rest between sessions.

Can I perform these exercises at home without a barbell?

Yes, many of these exercises can be modified for home workouts using dumbbells, resistance bands, or bodyweight.

Are these exercises suitable for beginners?

Yes, but beginners should start with lighter weights and focus on proper form before increasing resistance.

What should I do if I feel pain during these exercises?

If you experience pain, stop immediately. Consult a fitness professional or healthcare provider to assess and address the issue.

How long does it take to see results in hamstring strength?

Results vary, but with consistent training, you can expect to see improvements in strength and flexibility within a few weeks to a few months.


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  1. The Advantages of Strong Hamstrings. Retrieved from