The Best Dumbbell Exercises for Hamstrings

The greatest workouts for your hamstrings to do with dumbbells are actions that you can complete correctly, which will assist in improving your posterior chain and decrease the risk of injury.

The bicep femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus are the three major muscles that make up your hamstrings. Your semimembranosus muscle is the smallest of the three.

You must perform dumbbell exercises that work both the hip extension and the knee bending to target these hamstring muscles.

You can exercise every muscle in your body with dumbbells because of their incredible versatility and the fact that you can use them singly or in pairs. In addition, workouts aimed at reducing body fat and improving conditioning can also be performed with dumbbells.

You don't think I'm that stupid, do you?

The original function of dumbbells is where the name "dumbbell" originates. They were developed so that bell ringers in Old English times may practice their craft in peace. Hence, in this context, "dumb" refers to the absence of sound and not to stupidity.

Many people who work out find the thought of only using dumbbells to work out to be restricting, but it doesn't have to be that way. There are hundreds of fantastic exercises involving dumbbells that you may pick from.

What Does The Hamstring Do?

Since the hamstring muscle group is large and connects to both the knees and the hips, it is essential to the motion of both the knees and the hips. Hamstring muscles are often called "the back of the thighs." They enable you to move your legs in various ways, including walking, running, jumping, squatting, and standing.

The more forcefully you can move, directly proportional to the strength of your hamstrings. In addition, the more injuries you can withstand, the more resilient you will be. Your knees and hips are protected and stabilised by your hamstrings, which is an important job they play.

You would realise how essential your hamstrings are to your day-to-day existence if you ever suffered an injury to that muscle group. But, unfortunately, hamstring injuries are not uncommon. They are engaged in every movement that occurs in the lower body.

Why It's Important to Strengthen Your Hamstrings 

It is essential to maintain your hamstrings' health and keep them strong. A higher quality of life can be achieved by developing strong hamstrings. Not only do weightlifters and athletes need strong hamstrings, but everyone else should also.

Hamstring exercises offer various benefits, including those that might assist you in the short and long term. Now that we have that out of the way let's go over some of the primary benefits of strengthening your hamstrings, both for your day-to-day life, your longevity, and your performance in sports and the gym:

  1. More weight Lifted: The stronger your hamstrings are, the more weight you'll be able to lift, which means you'll build up other muscles more quickly. So build up those hamstrings to improve your records on some of the most crucial exercises, like the squat and the deadlift.
  2. Improve your speed by running faster by working on your hamstrings, one of the most crucial muscles for sprinting. To run quickly, you need to train your hamstrings to be strong.
  3. The hamstrings are responsible for your ability to speed up and slow down when running, so strengthening them can help you do both. In addition, strong and flexible hamstrings are necessary to accelerate with power and decelerate without risk.
  4. Avoid Injuring Yourself: Hamstring strains and knee problems are among the most common injuries sustained by sports. Having stronger hamstrings will significantly reduce the likelihood of injury to your hamstrings, knees, and hips. While there is no way to be entirely immune to this, there is a way to resist it completely. If you have well-developed and powerful hamstrings, you will be better able to absorb shocks that include high velocities and forces.
  5. You will have improved posture as a result of having stronger hamstrings, which is just one of the many benefits that come along with having stronger hamstrings. In addition, the stability of your hips, which forms part of the basis for your spine, is improved by having strong hamstrings. Hence, having stronger hamstrings can assist in maintaining the alignment of your spine, which can save you from experiencing backaches and improve your posture in the long run.

The Best Dumbbell Exercises For Hamstrings 


How to Do it:

  • It will help to keep your hands at your sides while holding dumbbells in both hands.
  • Also, maintain a straight stance with your arms.
  • It would help if you had a modest knee bend, and your hips should be flexed forward slightly.
  • Slowly lowering the weights to the ground while maintaining a straight back is a good technique.
  • By contracting your core and glutes, return to the starting posture by standing up.

Sets: 3 sets

Repetitions: 12-15 reps


How to Do it:

  • You should have a pair of dumbbells in each hand and keep them at your sides.
  • Hinge slowly at your hips by elevating your left foot behind you, with a minor bend in your right knee.
  • Reduce your height until the lifted leg is at right angles to the ground.
  • Your other leg should be pressed into the floor while you do this exercise to return to the starting position. Alter sides, and carry on as before.

Sets: 3 sets

Repetitions: 5-6 reps on each side


How to Do it:

  • Place yourself flat on the ground with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart.
  • Put a dumbbell on top of your hips, then drive your hips up toward the dumbbell.
  • Create a straight line with your body that extends from your shoulders to your hips.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds, then slowly lower yourself until you are on the ground.

Sets: 3 sets

Repetitions: 10 reps


How to Do it:

  • Get a chair or a strong box, and wait here. Put your back against an elevated surface while you rest on the box.
  • Maintain a knee bend by positioning your feet so that they are flat on the floor.
  • Maintain a shoulder-width distance between your feet, and place the back of your shoulder blades on the box.
  • Put some dumbbells so that they are resting on top of your hipbones.
  • Put your chin down and drive through the balls of your feet.
  • Continue to push yourself until you see that your thighs are parallel to the ground and your legs are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Before returning to the starting position, give your glutes a solid squeeze and then relax them.

Sets: 3 sets

Repetitions: 12 reps


How to Do it:

  • Maintain a shoulder-width distance between your feet when you stand.
  • Put both hands in front of you and grab a dumbbell or a kettlebell from the top of the handle.
  • You should curve your back as little as possible while bending your knees.
  • Swing the dumbbell between your legs while returning your hips to the starting position.
  • As the weight is behind you, activate your glutes and drive your hips forward to create more lift.
  • Lift the dumbbell till it is at the level of your chest.
  • At the highest point of the swing, you should be using your core, quads, and glutes.
  • Let the dumbbell return to its starting position between your knees.
  • Repeat. 

Sets: 2-3 sets

Repetitions: 10 reps



How to Do it:

  • Maintain a shoulder-width distance between your feet when you stand.
  • Put or hold a dumbbell so that it is positioned to rest on the top of your shoulder blades and the base of your neck.
  • Maintain a slight bend in your knees while you work on engaging your glutes.
  • Keep your back straight while you bend forward at the hips.
  • It would help to squat down until your chest is level with the ground.
  • By contracting your abdominal muscles, drive your feet firmly into the floor.
  • Turn this movement around by driving your hips forward in the opposite direction.

Sets: 3 sets

Repetitions: 8-12 reps

Pro Tips: Keep your gaze looking straight. Maintain a straight alignment between your head and spine for this exercise. Don't raise it. 


How to Do it:

  • Take a broad and wide stance, and point the tips of your toes outward.
  • Maintain a grip on the top of the dumbbell by placing it between your legs.
  • Squat as broad as you can while keeping your knees straight and bending at the hips.
  • Your thighs must be at a right angle to the ground.
  • Once you get back up, ensure your legs are straight and your glutes are squeezed.

Sets: 3 sets

Repetitions: 8-10 reps


How to Do it:

  • It would help if you hold dumbbells in each hand, and your feet should be about shoulder-width apart.
  • Maintain a straight posture with your arms hanging by your sides.
  • In doing so, push your chest out and take a significant step backward.
  • Reduce the angle of your back knee toward the floor while trying to keep as much of your front shin as possible in a straight line.
  • Make your way back to the beginning position by engaging the muscles in your legs and pushing through with your core.
  • After each iteration, switch sides.

Sets: 3 sets

Repetitions: 12-15 reps on each side

Benefits of Doing Hamstring Exercises with Dumbbells

  1. Dumbbells are a great tool for building hamstring strength because they are simple to transport and offer a wide range of motion, allowing you to target certain muscles.
  2. A mechanical and metabolic overload, like that provided by dumbbells, ultimately causes muscle growth. When you lift heavy dumbbells, you experience mechanical overload; when you lift moderately heavy dumbbells and perform many repetitions, you experience metabolic overload. Compared to barbells, the stress placed on the joints by dumbbells is far lower. When you do hamstring exercises using barbells, you will feel more stress on the lumbar spine than dumbbell exercises. You can train your hamstrings with dumbbells instead of barbells.
  3. You can perform unilateral workouts with dumbbells, which enables you to concentrate more on your weaker hamstrings if you have any. For instance, you can perform exercises such as the cross-body Romanian deadlift and dumbbell swings by focusing on one arm or leg at a time.
  4. Compared to other exercise equipment, dumbbells offer the greatest variety of hamstring workouts that can be performed with them.

The Best & Most Effective Hamstring Exercises With Dumbbells

Dumbbell Deadlift

Quick notes:  

The dumbbell deadlift is one of the most effective exercises for strengthening the hamstrings. It will effectively extend the hamstrings more than most activities out there, and because you have both feet planted, you can load up the weight.

This exercise must be a consistent part of your routine, and you should always look for ways to improve your weight or the number of repetitions you perform.

Form tips:

  • Maintain a small bend in your knees and move your butt back as far as possible.
  • When your butt can no longer be stretched any farther, that is the point at which you begin to come back up.
  • Do not round your shoulders down to get deeper into the hole.
  • Your back ought to maintain its flat position throughout the exercise.

Set & reps: 3 sets of 8 - 12 reps

Split Stance Dumbbell Deadlift

Quick notes:  

Try out this split stance deadlift position if you want to isolate one leg while still benefiting from the support provided by both legs. Again, the foot in front of you will do most of the work, while the foot in the back will provide support.

Form tips:

  • Keep your weight on the balls of your feet and your rear foot.
  • When performing each repetition, try to push your butt back as much as possible without allowing your hips to rock to one side.
  • As you lower yourself into the stretch, ensure the dumbbells are within reach of your front leg.

Set & reps: 3 sets of 8 - 10 per leg

Single Leg Hip Hinge Reaches

Quick notes:  

When we transition to working with one leg at a time, I always have my clients begin with one of these variations before we move on to working with dumbbells. Before loading the action, you must demonstrate the stability and balance necessary to do a hip hinge correctly.

Form tips:

  • Maintain your concentration on the one area directly in front of you. For example, if you gaze to the sides while you walk, you significantly increase the risk of falling over.
  • To assist you in activating the muscles in your foot, imagine grabbing something with your toes while you dig your foot into the ground.
  • Maintain an upright chest position while you hinge over and reach out in front of you.

Set & reps: 3 sets of 6 - 8 reps per side. After you feel like you have a good handle on these, go on to the next movement. 

Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift

Quick notes:  

One of the dance moves that I enjoy the most. Your hamstring muscles will grow stronger as you perform the single-leg dumbbell deadlift, which also adds an element of stability to the workout. If you can get good at working out with one leg at a time, you'll have a well-rounded fitness routine.

Form tips:

  • Keep the dumbbell in the hand that is not adjacent to the foot that is planted. It is referred to as being contralateral.
  • As you hinge over, you should allow the dumbbell to descend in a straight line; you shouldn't let it wander in front of you as you do this exercise.
  • It would help if you only bent forward as far as your hips will allow you to before they start to hurt.

Set & reps: 3 sets of 8 - 10 per side.

Hand-Supported Single Leg Deadlift

Quick notes:  

If you've already gotten the hang of the single-leg deadlift, you may now perform the technique while holding onto a certain object. The benefit of doing so is that the stability component can now be eliminated, allowing for a significantly increased capacity to bear weight. There is no valid reason for using the same weight as when performing your single-leg deadlifts; rather, you should aim for substantially greater loads.

Form tips:

  • Keep a firm grasp on a surface that allows you to do so. For example, if you have no choice but to grab onto a wall, feel free to do so, but if you can hold onto a squat rack or another object that enables you to wrap your hand around the entire item, that would be the perfect situation.
  • Let the dumbbell descend in a straight line to make a move analogous to the single-leg deadlift. It is vital to remember this as you continue to pile up weight. If it moves too far forward or to the side, you will begin to rotate your hips, which can cause pain in your lower back.

Set & reps: 3 sets of 8 - 10 per side.

Ipsilateral Single Leg Deadlift

Quick notes:  

This variation is similar to the standard single-leg deadlift, but there is one significant difference between the two. In this exercise, the dumbbell will be held in the hand of the foot that is planted rather than the other way around. Because that weight will want to draw you down to that side, forcing your core to work more than it normally would.

Form tips:

  • While doing your hinge movement, keep a dumbbell at your side and make sure it doesn't go too far forward or to one side.
  • Maintain a modest bend in your knee on the foot that is planted, and remember to push yourself only as far as your hinge will allow.
  • When you have returned to where you started, you can plant your foot briefly or let it float.

Set & reps: 3 sets of 8 - 10 per side.

Bulgarian Split Stance Hip Hinge

Quick notes:  

If Bulgarian split squats couldn't get any more challenging or complicated, they certainly haven't! Now, rather than squatting, which is more of a movement that focuses on the knees, this version will focus on the hips and target your hamstrings using dumbbells.

Form tips:

  • Keep one foot firmly placed on the bench and your dumbbells close by.
  • If you are unsure of your balance, it is perfectly OK to begin the exercise with only your body weight and to progress to using dumbbells only when you feel comfortable doing so.
  • At the very bottom of the hinge, pause to receive a good stretch for your hamstrings.

Set & reps: 3 sets of 8 - 10 per side.

Single Leg Deadlift + Reverse Lunge

Quick notes:  

In this section, we will combine two different movements into one. If you can do a single-leg deadlift with excellent technique, you should transition into a reverse lunge for each exercise repetition. You'll work more of your glutes and quads with the reverse lunge, but your hamstring will receive a workout with the SLDL, so you'll work all the muscles in your leg.

Form tips:

  • Maintaining your equilibrium is essential for this manoeuvre. If you are certain that you can complete the single-leg deadlift without pausing to reset between reps, you can proceed directly into your reverse lunge.
  • Before moving into the lunge position, you are free to pause briefly, then plant both feet on the ground. It is an acceptable variation.

Set & reps: 3 sets of 6 - 8 per side.

Hamstring Walkout

Quick notes:  

You can perform this exercise using nothing but your body weight or turn it into a hamstring dumbbell workout by walking out while holding a heavy dumbbell on your pelvis.

This activity will focus on knee flexion, in contrast to most exercises before it, which emphasise hip extension. It's important to strike a balance between the two. Here are some additional options for hamstring walkouts that you can try instead of leg curls. 

Form tips:

  • Lift your hips as high as possible while lying on your back and supporting a heavy dumbbell with your pelvic floor.
  • Start walking your legs out as far as possible while keeping your hips as high as possible.
  • The greater the degree to which you can straighten your legs, the greater the strain you will feel in your hamstrings.
  • Walk backwards until you have finished one repetition.

Set & reps: 3 sets of 6 - 8 reps. Each rep should take around 10 seconds.

One Leg Hip Thrust

Quick notes:  

You are working your glutes with this action, but you can also work your hamstrings with dumbbells by moving your foot further out and keeping a dumbbell on the upper thigh of the leg you are planting your foot on.

Form tips:

  • Keep your foot slightly further out so that your ankle is higher than your knee, as instructed in the notes that are located above. Then, when you push yourself up, it is important to briefly check your form to determine whether or not that foot is in the correct place. Then, move it further away so you can feel it even more in your hamstring.
  • You may not need dumbbells for this exercise because it's tough enough!

Set & reps: 3 sets of 10 - 12 per side.

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Leg Training: Hamstring Workout with Dumbbells

Dumbbell Exercises for Hamstrings

Exactly do every exercise to get the most out of this and any other workout. Your workout will be more effective and safer if you use the correct form during the exercises. If you are unsure, use somewhat less weight and concentrate more on becoming proficient in the movement.

1. Dumbbell Romanian deadlift

The Romanian weightlifting squad relied on Romanian deadlifts as one of their go-to exercises, which is how the exercise got its name. This hip-hinge exercise is one of the best ways to strengthen and bulk up your entire posterior chain because it simultaneously works your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. RDLs are often performed with a barbell, but dumbbells can achieve the same results.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet approximately hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. Then, give your knees a tiny bend and hold that position throughout your set.
  2. Maintain a strong core contraction while drawing your shoulders down and back.
  3. To lower the dumbbells down the front of your legs, you must push your butt back and hinge forward from your hips. Avoid arching your lower back at all costs.
  4. Drop to the lowest point that your flexibility will allow.
  5. Repeat the step when you drive your hips forward, then stand up straight.

2. Dumbbell reverse deficit lunge

Most people feel the benefits of lunges more in their glutes and quadriceps when they perform this fantastic leg workout. Nevertheless, performing them backward off a high platform shifts the focus of the exercise from your quads to your hamstrings, making it a more balanced workout. Warning: if you have never done this exercise, you will feel it in your hamstrings the next day if you perform it!

How to do it:

  1. Stand on a platform between 4 and 6 inches tall while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Maintain a firm abdominal brace while pulling your shoulders down and back.
  2. Take a few steps back, bend your knees, and get the knee on the back of your body as close to the ground as possible. Next, bend slightly and lean on yourself to target your hamstrings.
  3. Repeat the previous step on the other side after pushing off your back leg and bringing your feet back together.
  4. Maintain a pattern of switching legs throughout the entirety of your set.

3. Dumbbell leg curl

There is no reason why you cannot perform leg curls even if you do not have access to a leg curl machine. Bodybuilders used dumbbells to perform leg curls before the widespread adoption of resistance machines. Even though they could not access modern training equipment, these traditional weightlifters could develop impressively muscular legs. It was successful for them and will also be successful for you.

How to do it:

  1. Lay face down on a flat workout bench and hold a dumbbell between your ankles while performing the movement. If you need additional support or comfort, roll up a towel or use a small foam roller and place it under your hips.
  2. Resting your knees on the bench's edge for the full range of motion is best. Then, pull your glutes in toward your spine and tighten your abdominal muscles.
  3. Pull the weight until your shins are nearly vertical while bending your knees and legs.
  4. Repeat lowering the weight until you can stand with your legs completely straight.
  5. Using a decline bench that places your feet lower than your hips will allow you to maximise the benefits of this workout. It broadens the range of motion and maintains the tension in your muscles for longer.

4. Dumbbell single-leg Romanian deadlift

What can you do that is more beneficial than regular Romanian deadlifts? Carrying out the same physical activity with only one leg at a time! Because you'll have to work much harder to stabilise your hips and knees when performing single-leg RDLs, your glutes and hamstrings will get much more of a workout. It is an excellent exercise for increasing both your mobility and balance at the same time.

How to do it:

  1. You should bring your feet together into a standing position and take a dumbbell in each hand. Move your weight onto your left foot and continue walking. Make a small bend in your left knee to improve your balance. Maintain a strong core contraction while drawing your shoulders down and back.
  2. When you hinge forward from your hips, descend the dumbbells until they almost touch the ground. Avoid arching your lower back at all costs. As a counterbalance, you should extend your right leg behind you in front of you.
  3. Repeat the process while standing back up.
  4. Take a short break, then switch legs while performing the same repetitions on the other leg.
  5. You can also perform this exercise with one dumbbell to increase the effort placed on your balance.

5a. Dumbbell hip thrust

Most people consider hip thrusts to be a form of glute exercise. Therefore, these exercises are frequently referred to as glute bridges. Yet, in addition to working your quadriceps, this exercise also targets your hamstrings, which is why it is included in this workout. So, if you want to give your hamstrings (and glutes!) a workout worth your time, you only need one or two dumbbells.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your feet planted firmly. Leaning your upper back against a stable exercise bench will help strengthen your core. Take a break and hold a dumbbell on your hips as you relax.
  2. Put pressure on your feet to make contact with the ground, and lift your hips to align with your knees and shoulders. Then, drive your weight down through your heels to get the most hamstring contraction.
  3. Repeat the motion by lowering your butt back to the floor.
  4. Is that simple? Try working with just one leg at a time while performing this workout.

5b. Dumbbell stiff-leg deadlift

The Romanian deadlift and the stiff-leg deadlift are quite comparable and sometimes confused with one another. On the other hand, while regular deadlifts require you to bend your knees somewhat, stiff-leg deadlifts require you to keep your legs completely straight.

When you bend over with your knees straight, your glutes disengage, allowing you to focus more on your hamstrings. But, because this exercise is easier than others, you should reduce the weight you lift. 

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet approximately hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. Put some space between your knees, and keep them that way during the entire exercise.
  2. Maintain a strong core contraction while drawing your shoulders down and back.
  3. Tilt your hips forward and lower the dumbbells down the front of your legs while maintaining this position. Avoid arching your lower back at all costs.
  4. Drop to the lowest point that your flexibility will allow.
  5. Repeat while maintaining a straight posture.


Your hamstrings are responsible for moving key body muscles and joints, such as your hips and knees, which you use regularly. Maintaining a strong hamstring is just as important as maintaining strength in the other regions of your body, and it also helps tone your butt and legs. Strengthening your legs and hamstrings through dumbbell exercises effectively reduces the risk of injury to these muscles. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Dumbbell hamstring workouts for injury prevention?

Dumbbell hamstring exercises can prevent injuries. Strong hamstrings support knee stability and alignment during physical activity. Strengthening the hamstrings improves force absorption and dissipation, minimising strain and injury. To avoid injury, you must use appropriate techniques and not overwork your muscles.

How long do hamstring dumbbell exercises work?

Dumbbell exercises for hamstrings take time to work, depending on your fitness level, consistency, and genetics. Regular training and adequate nutrition can enhance strength and muscular tone within weeks. Muscle size and definition might take months to change.

Can dumbbells alone strengthen hamstrings?

Dumbbell exercises build and tone the hamstrings, but a varied workout plan is essential. Squats, lunges, and leg presses can help strengthen the hamstrings more fully. Cardio and adequate nutrition also help build muscle.

Can I use dumbbells for my hamstrings at home?

Home dumbbell hamstring exercises are possible. Dumbbells are flexible and easy to use at home. Choose a weight that matches your fitness level and give yourself adequate space to manoeuvre. Home dumbbell exercises can be learned via videos or by fitness professionals.

For dumbbell hamstring exercises, what weight should I use?

Dumbbells for hamstring exercises vary by strength and fitness level. Start with a weight that lets you maintain form and control the workouts. To push your muscles, progressively add weight. Fitness professionals and personal trainers can assist you in choosing the right weight.

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