A term you often hear thrown around in the health & wellness industry is “balance”. We hear tips on how to live a balanced life, but have you thought about muscular balance? At The Bar Method, we pride ourselves on the safety and effectiveness of our technique, and an enormous part of this is muscular balance. We build strength across the body evenly, which helps to create stability and prevent injury. Whether walking, running, or spinning, our daily lives revolve around forward motion. As a result, many people have strong quads, without realizing that their hamstrings are much weaker. Why is this important? In addition to giving your legs shape and your seat a more lifted appearance, strong hamstrings protect your knees, hips, and lower back. In today’s blog, we’re sharing 4 exercises that build stronger, more defined hamstrings.
2nd Position Lunges
Heat up your entire lower body with second position lunges. This double duty exercise will tone your thighs from all angles and improve your posture. Follow the sequence below to try second position lunges at home:
- Standing on profile, place one hand on the back of a chair or countertop for support and the other on your waist. Stand with your feet about two feet apart and turn your toes out a comfortable amount.
- Bend your knees over the arches of your feet and keep your back straight. If you find yourself leaning forward, bend your knees less.
- Bend your knees to move down and up one inch for 20 reps.
- Lift the heel of the side of your body where you have your hand on your waist and turn to face your support. Place both hands on your support. Step your back foot forward until your knee is under your hip and you are in a lunge position. Move down and up one inch for 10 reps, then switch legs and repeat.
- Turn the opposite direction of where you started and step back out into a turned out position with your heels a few feet apart, and bend your knees to move down one inch more quickly for 20 reps to finish.
Stair master? No thank you! We will take tilted seat instead! This seat exercise was inspired by the sensation of climbing flights of stairs and focuses on the spot where the back of your leg connects to your glutes. To get a great glute and hamstring burn wherever you are, follow the guide we’ve listed here:
- Stand facing the back of a chair or countertop and place both hands on it for support. Walk a half-arm’s distance away and place your feet under your hips.
- Tip forward at your hips and slide one leg diagonally away from your body with the ball of your back foot resting lightly on the floor.
- Shift your hips backwards until your front knee is over your ankle and you feel all of your weight in your front heel. Imagine that you were about to sit in a chair that suddenly disappeared.
- Bend your front knee down and up one inch for 10 reps, then at a faster pace for 20 more reps. Repeat the circuit 1-2 more times.
- Switch legs and repeat on the other side.
- After both sides are complete, hold onto your support and walk your feet backward underneath your hips. Fold forward at your hips to create an L-shape with your body and hold as long as you’d like to stretch your seat, hamstrings, and back muscles.
We like to think of kneeling seat like a shot of tequila. It happens quickly, but you can feel its effect right away. This short and sweet seat exercise gives quick results by deeply engaging and challenging the entire back of your body. To start feeling the burn, follow the steps we’ve listed below!
- Kneel facing a coffee table or other should-height surface for support. Place a throw pillow or folded small mat under one knee to cushion your joint.
- Squeeze your seat and tilt your hips forward.
- Lift the knee not on a cushion off of the floor and center your weight.
- Press your lifted leg backwards one inch at a time for 10 reps. Keep your seat clenched so that you feel resistance each time your leg moves. Press your leg back more quickly for 20 reps. Repeat the circuit once more on this leg.
- Between sides, sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you and reach forward to elongated your hamstrings.
- Repeat the exercise on the opposite leg and follow immediately with the same hamstring stretch.
It’s time to cap off your hamstring routine, ladies! Complete a set of back dancing to sculpt your seat and the backs of your legs while strengthening your core and stretching your lower back. To set up for back dancing:
- Lie down on a comfortable surface with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Slide your feet as wide as your hips and farther away from you so that they are more forward of your knees. For more challenge in your hamstrings, work with your knees less bent and/or flex your feet.
- Lift your seat up and down off of the floor 20 times, keeping your ribcage down to avoid your weight shifting into your upper back, shoulders, and neck.
- Hold your seat at the top of your range and squeeze your glutes 20 faster times.
- Repeat the circuit a few times until you’ve been moving for about 3 minutes. Most popular songs are the right length, feel free to play your favorite and move to the beat!
Keep an eye out for these moves and more in your next Bar Method class and feel a new appreciation for all that your hamstrings do to support you!