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The Best Hamstring Exercises for New Runners

Hamstring exercises for new runners

We’ve come up with what we believe are some of the best hamstring exercises for new runners.

Most new runners struggle with the basics. Learning how to train properly, (and even more importantly, how to recover properly), understanding how to turn on and off your new GPS watch or simply trying to figure out what they need to carry along with them for a run.

New runners also often deal with a rash of running injuries that could have been prevented if they had taken the time to develop the right type of strength they need to start a running program.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much time to develop a solid strength training base for running. In fact, just doing these leg exercises twice a week can help improve your running speed and decrease the number of injuries you develop as a new runner. In fact, a 2018 study 1 published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that just one 30-minute of strength training session a week done as part of a 10-week training program in recreational female runners improved running performance.

One of the most neglected muscle groups (along with the glutes) is the hamstrings. Sports medicine research on runners has shown that there is a measurable change in hamstring strength that comes with long runs. 1

We’ve come up with our favorite hamstring exercises for new runners which will make you a better and faster runner. These hamstring exercises can reduce the risk of a running injury.

You’re welcome! 😉

Our Favorite Hamstring Exercises for New Runners

Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian Deadlift is one of my favorite exercises for teaching runners how to focus on their hamstrings and use the hamstring to extend their hips. If you do this hamstring exercise correctly, you WILL feel some soreness in the middle part of your hamstrings up into the glutes over the next several days.

Romanian Deadlifts

The Romanian deadlift is basically a hip hinge exercise that focuses on hip extension and flexion. The key part of the movement is coming back up using the hip extension. This hip extension movement focuses on the contraction of the hamstrings and the glutes. The Romanian Deadlift should be a regular component of any hamstring exercises for new runners.

Pelvic Bridges

The Pelvic Bridge is another bodyweight exercise that can either be a hamstring or glut-dominate exercise. For a hamstring-dominate Pelvic Bridge exercise, focus on keeping both feet flat on the ground.

I like to have runners focus on developing the correct form with the two-leg pelvic bridge and then advance to single-leg pelvic bridges in the intermediate and advanced hamstring exercise programs.

The Pelvic Bridge exercise is done laying on your back with knees flexed, and both feet flat on the floor with your arms resting flat on the floor at your sides. To start off the Pelvic Bridge, simply lift your buttocks off the ground as you push down thru your feet and upper torso. 

You want to rise high enough where the thighs and torso become straight. Try to hold this upright Pelvic Bridge position for 5 to 10 seconds before returning to the starting position.

Hamstring Pelvic Bridges

Pelvic Bridges with Stability Ball

Using a stability ball adds some complexity and challenge to the pelvic bridge hamstring exercises and can help focus on firing the hamstring muscle in a pattern similar to running as you pull the stability ball towards you with your heels. The contraction of the hamstrings is similar to when the foot strikes the ground and the hamstrings help pull your body ahead of your foot.

Once you master the double-leg Physio Ball Bridge and hamstring curl, try doing the one-legged version and see how much harder it is.

Kettlebell Swings

When done properly, the Kettlebell Swing exercise is a great exercise for working the muscles on the back of the legs, especially the hamstrings and glutes. The kettlebell swing will help with hamstring and glute development and is another valuable hamstring exercise for new runners to learn.

It’s important to remember that the kettlebell swing is NOT A SQUAT. The kettlebell swing also is NOT AN UPPER BODY workout. The entire kettlebell swing movement is generated strictly from the hips.

This exercise is a great exercise to learn how to properly fire and extend your hips. You’ll know you’ve been doing these kettlebell swing exercises correctly when you feel some soreness in your upper hamstrings and glutes the next couple of days after doing these swings.

Kettlebell Swings

Once you master these hamstring exercises for new runners, try our favorite hamstring exercises for intermediate runners to keep improving!


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