Have you ever been in pain after a leg day?
And I’m not talking about the good kind of pain that leaves you struggling to walk up the stairs.
I mean the sharp pains around your knees, hips, and ankle joints, where something just doesn’t feel right.
9 times out of 10, the root of this pain is the isolation machines in your gym, like the hamstring curl.
As a newbie, just starting my fitness journey, I would usually jump on these machines.
I would be thinking that they would give me the best gains.
What I didn’t realize is that these exercises push your body through unnatural movement, causing pain and lacking muscle growth in other areas of your body.
Over time, I learned that you didn’t need to pump iron through functional trainers, or even through free weights to build muscle.
They work but aren’t the outright option you have to choose.
By utilizing a resistance band, we can send our legs through a more natural range of motion, while keeping our hamstrings under a prolonged time under tension.
With this article, I’m going to give you the best resistance band exercises to target your hamstrings and efficiently grow your legs into tree trunks.
Let’s get into it.
Kicking off this list we have the closest relative to the machine hamstring curl.
Through a quality resistance band, you can switch up your usual hamstring curl for an alternative that pushes your lower body through a greater range of motion.
The best thing about using a resistance band on your hamstrings in this position is the time under tension.
With a lot of movements, you tend to find that the muscle fibers in the hammie seem to have a lot of the stress removed due to the help from the glutes or the knees.
But here, we can guarantee that the hamstrings will have to work throughout the whole exercise, recovering bigger and stronger.
As well as this, I find that the banded leg curl has been one of the most important exercises for strengthening my knee joints and reducing the pain.
I have also found that my abdominals always seem to feel tension throughout the workout, meaning we have an effective exercise for improving our balance and agility.
Next up we have one of the big guns.
That’s right, the deadlift is one of the best compound exercises for training your entire lower body, and more specifically, your hamstrings.
Throwing a resistance band into the mix, rather than using a barbell, means the entire posterior side of the body (basically anything on your back, such as your hamstrings, glutes, or lats) will experience a greater time under tension.
This makes gaining strength and lean muscle mass a lot more efficient, as the resistance of the band increases as you move through the motion.
Another thing with substituting a machine exercise with a compound movement is the added benefits for your entire body.
As the core muscles must work in tandem with the leg muscles, your balance, stability, and agility will drastically improve.
As well as this, the deadlift is a great exercise for training your back muscles resulting in a much better posture and enhancing athleticism.
Here we have one of the more basic exercises on this list, which takes the ordinary lunging movement to a different angle.
By doing this, we are moving the stress on the muscle fibers in our quads to the back of our legs, effectively training our hamstrings, as well as parts of our glutes.
This is another exercise that can take our muscles through a natural movement, meaning you can target your hamstrings safely, without the added pain you may get from the machine hamstring curl.
Obviously, a compound movement like the lunge is going to provide your body with added stability, balance, and flexibility similar to all of the other movements, but there’s one thing that makes the move stand out.
You can change this exercise up so many times.
You don’t have to stick to the lateral lunge, you can do the normal lunge, the reverse lunge, or even a Bulgarian split squat.
All of these challenge your lower body and make your workout much more exciting and fresh.
You could even do what I do, and move through each lunge direction in a sequence.
This allows me to hit the muscles in my legs from different angles.
A glute exercise as a hamstring alternative, how has that made itself onto this list?
Well, this exercise is a bit of an all-rounder when it comes to the posterior aspect of your legs, working primarily on your glutes, but also requiring your hamstrings and abdominal muscles to come in and take some of the stress.
What some people don’t know is we can make this exercise more hamstring dominated than at first look.
By shifting our weight onto our heels and pushing the front of our feet off the ground, we can effectively target the hamstring and tear more muscle fibers in this area, rather than the glutes.
If we also move our feet a couple of steps forward, we can feel the tension in our hamstrings throughout the whole range of motion and require more abdominal muscles to help.
This ultimately results in an improvement in our balance, stability, and overall fitness.
A fairly new exercise to me, this hamstring dedicated movement resembles a deadlift, with a slight tweak in body position and weight placement.
If you do struggle with your deadlift, then the Good Morning is a great exercise for improving your hamstring and hip strength, as you can hit the muscles from a variety of angles and slowly overload them in different ways.
With this movement, we aim to hinge at the hips to bend over forward, keeping our back straighter than what is possible with a Romanian Deadlift, as we are able to shift the resistance band from our hands to our back, preventing our shoulders from taking part of the load.
Due to this aspect, we can provide a lot more stress onto the muscle fibers in our hamstring, whilst also helping to improve our flexibility and posture.
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If I was to stick with a simple standing kickback, then we would be starting to head into that grey area of a booty workout, targetting the glutes more than the hamstrings.
But luckily for you, I have doubled the intensity of this exercise and transformed it into one that targets the hamstrings perfectly.
We can put them through a large range of motion with the kickback and curl, with tension on the muscle the entire time.
So, you could stick with just the simple standing curl, but where’s the fun in that?
With this movement, you are pushing the entire posterior side of your legs, helping to build muscle a lot more effectively, while helping to increase your balance and overall cardiovascular health.
There we have it, ladies and gentlemen.
A complete set of alternatives you can substitute into your workout for the hamstring curl.
Rather than taking the risk of injury by putting your body into unnatural positions and using your joints for dangerous ranges of motion, you can use the movements in this list to train your hamstrings effectively whilst adding a ton of extra health benefits to your life.
To top it all off, the only bit of equipment you need is a resistance band.
Do you know what that means?
You can work out on your terms, anywhere you like.
If this interests you, check out my free Ebook, “Train Wherever The F*ck You Want” to learn how you can exercise without the need for a gym membership.
So, what are your favorite exercises for your hamstrings?
Do you think you will incorporate any of these to avoid using the machine hamstring curl?
Let me know in the comments below.