We often take our lower body for granted, concentrating on toning the upper body and arms over our legs. For those of you who do work out your legs, squats are probably the most popular choice to engage your leg muscles. This means that the spotlight often does not reach the hamstring muscles that are responsible for your hip and knee movements, helping you walk, squat and bend your knees.
The hamstring muscles run down the back of the thigh and consist of three muscles:
‘Semitendinosus’ and ‘semimembranosus’ help the thigh to extend, tibia to rotate, and knees to flex. While the ‘biceps femoris’ allows your knee to flex and rotate and extend your hips.
Hamstring muscles provide mobility and stability to the hips and knees, making sure that you can run, walk, sit and bend down for your day to day activities. Although these are a powerful group of muscles, they are also quite prone to injury. So, it’s important to strengthen them with regular exercise and training.
Squeeze those hamstrings and tone them with these exercises that can be done from the comfort of your home:
1. Glute bridge
Lie down on your back with knees bent and feet on the mat. Tighten your core and then press into heels and squeeze the glutes to raise your hips upwards, while pushing the upper back into the floor. Hold this position and then return to start to complete 1 repetition.
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2. Donkey kicks
Using a mat, place your hands and knees on top of the mat. Keep your right knee bent at 90 degrees and lift your leg upwards until the thigh is parallel to the floor. Now, return to the start position to complete 1 repetition.
3. Good mornings
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and place your hands behind your head. Ensure that your elbows open wide and keep your knees slightly bent, hinge forward at the hips until your chest is almost parallel to the floor. Now, push your hips back while keeping your spine neutral. Finish the 1st repetition by squeezing your hamstrings and glutes to push your hips forward and rise up, returning to the starting position.
4. Staggered deadlift
Standing with your back straight, loop a towel or a resistance band, under your left leg. Hold one end of the band/towel in either hand, and step the right foot back slightly, and lift the heel. Now, push your hips back and lower your chest forward to a 45-degree angle. Reverse the movement to return to the starting position to complete 1 repetition.
5. Tiptoe walk
Take the glute bridge position and engage your core. Keep your hips straight and take one step back toward the glutes with your right foot, balancing on your toes. Repeat the same with the left foot. Reverse the movement to return to start to complete 1 repetition.
So, ladies, try doing 10 to 15 repetitions of these exercises for optimal results. Tone your hamstrings and boost your mobility!