Hamstring workouts can be great for both sports performance or muscle growth. Each hamstring exercise in this list provides the information needed to perfrom the hamstring kettlebell exercise correctly.
No spam – just thoughtful training advice
Trying to use strength training with kettlebells to prevent injury or improve performance? Or just looking to grow your hamstrings with the kettlebell you've got at home? We have 8 effective exercises for you to start achieving these goals today.
Complete 3 rounds
The vast majority of these exercises are designed for hypertrophy training (muscle gain) adaptations. That being said, for beginners performing these exercises within the 8-12 repetitions range, they will see huge benefits in strength also.
I say this as many of these exercises are just not conducive to maximal force development, yes if a barbell is not available it can be done with a kettlebell, but I would highly advise doing your strength work with a barbell if your more of an advanced trainee. The exercises that can be used for strength in this list would be the kettlebell deadlift, which can be a very effective deadlift variation for strength development.
The away from body KB straight led deadlift is one of the most technically difficult of those presented in this list. It requires good hinge technique, specifically the ability to arch the lower back, allowing the kettlebell to target the hamstrings. This exercise can cause a lot of delayed onset muscle soreness when it is done with low training ages, so if you are a coach maybe consider only given this to those with good technique and some form of training experience.
The kettlebell deadlift will involve the hamstrings, but unlike the exercise above, the hamstrings will not be the primary mover as this exercise is much more of a full body exercise. Yet it allows us to us much heavier weights than the exercises where the hamstrings are being isolated completely, making it very beneficial.
The Offset staggered stance straight leg deadlift is a great single leg variation that will be very effective at hamstring development for strength or hypertrophy. This is a go too if you only have access to one light kettlebell as you will not need much load at all to create an effective stimulus.
The assisted single leg kettlebell straight leg deadlift is one of the best ways to target the hamstring with a kettlebell. That being said it is a very technical exercise that can be difficult to execute. The biggest issue I see in this exercise with all of my clients is the ability to keep the hips square, it requires a great deal of hip and core stability not to mention concentration throughout a long set.
The Russian KB swing is probably the most well know on the list, yet I would recommend it the least for strength and hypertrophy adaptations. That doesn’t take away from the effectiveness of the kettlebell swing, which is an excellent explosive exercise that can be very effective at training explosive characteristics in the hamstring. The power clean is also an extremely effective exercise, but that doesn’t mean I would use it for hypertrophy adaptations.
The offset kettlebell walking deadlift is a very similar variation to the offset staggered stance variation, except it involves hinging on both legs whilst the kettlebell stays in the same hand. This exercise is again very beneficial when you’re only working with one relatively light kettlebell.
The KB B-Stance Straight Leg Deadlift is one of the most technically challenging but also effective single leg hinge variations for isolating the hamstrings. The guiding foot does little to no work yet means that balance is not the limiting factor, while a great deal of load can be placed through the working leg.
The wide stance kb straight leg deadlift allows us to use the sumo stance and a high hip position to work the hamstrings very effectively. I often use this as the first straight leg hinge variation as beginners seem to find the hinge movement slightly easier to pick up when the feet are in a wide stance, the only issue is keeping the upper back tight, as the kettlebells are out in front, it can make it more difficult to keep the back in a good position.
The variety that the kettlebell provides means you can use many different exercises to help strengthen your hamstrings to improve running performance and mitigate injury. Variety of exercises is important as it can combat mundanity in our training, making training more interesting and fun. With these 8 exercises you can create 8 different training blocks that have different hinge variations with just a few kettlebells.
Let’s not forget how crucial the hamstring muscles are for sports performance and its clear that improving the strength of these muscles (to a point) can be extremely beneficial. Hamstrings play an important part in sprint mechanics, so strengthening them through resistance training with kettlebells will be extremely beneficial for sports that require sprinting.
When incorporating strength training into your routine make sure you do it progressively , start slow especially if your a beginner or are doing a lot of running volume. The last thing you want to do is let overtraining cause any issues.
Depending on your ability and your current volume, doing 1-2 full body resistance training sessions a week can be an excellent way to improve performance and also stay healthy. These hamstring exercises should be a key part of this full body resistance training plan.
If you enjoyed this resource you can find more below or try Programme, a fitness app that plans every workout for you – based on your progress, equipment and lifestyle.
This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.