Tone your hamstrings

By: Maureen Hagan

Author: Canadian Living


Tone your hamstrings

By: Maureen Hagan
Hamstring kick back
Why it is great

This variation of the traditional hamstring curl works your glutes as well as your hamstrings. The most effective way to tone the back of your thighs is by flexing your knee at the same time as you extend your hip.  Squeezing a small plastic or lightweight ball – or a rolled-up small hand towel – behind your knee ensures that your knee stays bent as you lift your foot toward the ceiling. Working the hamstrings and glutes together not only helps you tone your rear and give it a natural lift, but it also helps lengthen and energize your walking or jogging stride, makes climbing up stairs easier and strengthens your fl utter kick for swimming.

Starting position

• Begin on all fours, with forearms on the floor, elbows directly under shoulders, palms touching and knees under hips. Pull navel in to spine, to keep spine stable.
• Keep head aligned with torso – ears in line with shoulders and eyes aimed between elbows; pull shoulders away from the ears and gently squeeze shoulder blades together.
• Place a small air-filled or lightweight ball behind your right knee, bending your knee to hold ball in place. Keeping your right knee on the floor, lift your foot off the floor, toes pointing down (A).

• Squeeze your glutes as you inhale.
• Exhale and press your right foot upward toward the ceiling until your right knee is in line with your right hip (B).
• Pause and slowly lower to starting position as you inhale. Repeat on same side.
• Do one to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions on each side, three times per week.

What not to do
• Do not arch your back.
• Do not let your abdominals sag in an attempt to lift the heel higher.

Muscles worked
• Hamstrings
• Gluteus maximus
• Gastrocnemius

Maureen's tip
Do twice as many reps on exercises that target muscles on the back side of your body than you do for other exercises. These are the antigravity muscles that keep you upright and strong throughout your life.

Get in shape in a flash with more of Maureen Hagan's smart moves!

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Tone your hamstrings