These weightless variations on hamstring exercises come highly recommended if you’re recovering from an injury or simply don’t have weights handy. An added benefit in performing hamstring exercises without weights is their accessibility — you can do these anywhere, any time, on those days you don’t have time for a trip to the gym.
A few important notes before you dive in: As with any workout, take 5 to 10 minutes to sufficiently warm up your leg muscles before performing any of the following five hamstrings exercises. Try to complete each move for a total of 15 total repetitions.
1. Alternating Lunges
Alternating lunges are incredibly versatile, and can be performed both as stretched before high intensity lower-body workouts, as well as a workout in itself when performed at a rapid ‘alternating lunge rate.’ For example, before rowing practice I’d often alternate lunge 30 to 40 yards across the gym floor, back and forth, gradually prepping the hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes for a 45 minute row on the water. Additionally, I’ve used alternating lunges as part of a condensed high-intensity circuit workout where the goal is to perform as many alternating lunges as possible in a one- or two-minute timeframe. I recommend you consider using the alternating lunge for similar purposes to both!
2. High Knees
You’ve probably seen the speedy quick-cutting professional football wide receivers performing this exercise whenever they’re caught on film at training camp, and there’s a reason for this! High knees are famously effective at blasting fat through elevating your heart rate, without requiring the use of any exercise equipment. They’re doable in any area with enough room to move five feet any direction. Plus, this exercise can help you strengthen your hip flexors, in addition to the hamstrings, of course!
3. Wall Sits
All you need is a wall for this hamstring exercise. Wall sits are commonly associated with angry red-faced coaches giving punishment for players not performing to par they’re grueling, and immediately encourage the contraction of your leg and thigh muscles, which put simply, burns! At its core, this exercise is a test of lower body and mental endurance. How much burn can you stand? Find out!
4. Pilates Leg Pull Facing Down
This exercise engages your core while it works your glutes and hamstrings through the upper butt lift motion. This exercise might yet challenge you more than the others, as the range of motion is minor, and controlled movement is key. At first, jerky and sporadic movements might seem unavoidable, but as you gain strength in those hamstrings, you’ll improve quickly!
5. Jump Turns
This exercise comes highly recommended for those of you keen on improving your direction-shift speed sports like basketball, football, and soccer all require quick changes in direction, and the task at improving such a skill is a tough one indeed. Though the exercise in itself is simple enough, you’ll be sweating, and those legs of yours will be burning like no other in a brief amount of time. Jumping’s no easy business. When you consider the fact this exercise calls on you to land facing 180 degrees from your starting position, you can see balance is yet another large aspect of this exercise. Now get to it!