Muscle Injuries

Best Hamstring Exercises | Hamstring Injury Rehab | Physiotherapy

Check our shop
Best hamstring exercises

Best Hamstring Exercises | Hamstring Injury Rehab | Physiotherapy

In elite sports, lots of research is done on hamstring injury prevention and rehab. It appears as if the Nordic hamstring curl is the holy grail of hamstring exercises but we wondered if there is more to regional muscle use during hamstring strengthening, especially considering that there are four muscle bellies: The semimembranosus and semitendinosus as well as a long and a short head of the biceps femoris. Research by Mendez-Villanueva et al. (2016) examined which hamstring exercises result in the best site-specific muscle use. 

What they found is that the flywheel curl and to a lesser extent the Nordic hamstring curl target the short head of the biceps femoris, Whereas the hip-extension conic pulley promoted the selective use of proximal regions of the long head of the biceps femoris, while minimizing activity in the other muscles. 

So for general hamstring strengthening or focus on biceps femoris short head and semitendinosus and membranosus, the flywheel leg curl and Nordic hamstring curl are excellent exercises, with the Russian belt exercise as an addon. For more specific targeting of the proximal biceps femoris long head, you may want to opt for the hip extension conic pulley. 

So let’s look at the four exercises:

While the Nordic Hamstring Curl is a great exercise, it can be hard to perform this exercise on your own. If you are curious about variations of this exercise, check them out here.

Furthermore, all of these exercises are great at a later stage of rehab or for hamstring injury prevention. If you have just suffered a hamstring injury, we recommend applying the Askling protocol.


Hamstring injury prevention


Mendez-Villanueva A, Suarez-Arrones L, Rodas G, Fernandez-Gonzalo R, Tesch P, Linnehan R, Kreider R, Di Salvo V. MRI-based regional muscle use during hamstring strengthening exercises in elite soccer players. PLoS One. 2016 Sep 1;11(9):e0161356.

Like what you're learning?

Follow a course

  • Learn from wherever, whenever, and at your own pace
  • Interactive online courses from an award-winning team
  • CEU/CPD accreditation in the Netherlands, Belgium, US & UK
Online Course

Learn Proven Concepts to Best Rehab Patients with Muscle & Tendon Injuries

Online course banner background (1)
Tendinopathy Online Course

What customers have to say about this online course

Check out our all in one book!
Download our FREE app