7 Exercises to strengthen the back of your legs

These 7 moves will tone, strengthen and lengthen those often-neglected thigh muscles that waste away as you sit typing at your office desk day after day. We're not saying this won't be a challenge, but adding some of these moves to your regular workouts will make all the difference when it comes to having thighs to be proud of! 

Do these exercises in the comfort of your own home and work the back of your legs

Stiff Leg Deadlift to work the back of your thighs

  • You can do this exercise with or without weights. If using weights, such as baked bean tins, hold one in each hand palms down. Alternatively you can use one long weight held by both hands in front of your body Once your weights are selected place them on the ground just in front of your feet
  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart
  • Bend at the waist with your knees very slightly bent and your lower back straight
  • Grasp your weight/s with your hands at shoulder width apart
  • Lift your weight/s to standing position
  • Bend at the waist so that your hands are just over the top of your feet, bending your knees slightly at the same time
  • Straighten legs and unbend at the waist until you are in a standing position
  • Repeat until you have accomplished your desired set of repetitions

Single Legged Deadlift to challenge your hamstrings

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
  • Slowly lower your torso towards the ground, keeping your back straight
  • While doing this, slowly raise your left leg behind you
  • Stretch your leg as far back as you can go, bringing it into a straight line with your torso
  • Hold for a moment
  • Slowly return to the starting position
  • Repeat exercise as desired, switching legs at regular intervals

Extended Lunge to really work the back of your legs

  • Stand in a large open space
  • Take a larger than normal step forward until you feel you’re stretching
  • Move the knee at the back down towards the floor
  • Hold this position for a second, feeling the stretch in the front of your thigh on the stretched leg and pressure through your bum on the standing leg
  • Slowly raise yourself back up to the starting position
  • Repeat as many times as desired
  • Then swap legs and repeat the exercise again from the start

Intermediate Exercises to tone the back of your legs

How to use a seated leg curl machine to work your hamstrings

  • Sit with you back against the back rest
  • Choose an appropriate weight for your exercise
  • Position the weighted pad so that it rests on your lower calves
  • Stretch your legs and point your toes
  • Keeping your torso straight and your back against the rest start pulling your ankles towards your bum
  • Hold the position for a second
  • Slowly raise your feet until you are back in the starting position again
  • Repeat the exercise

Advanced Exercises to challenge the back of your legs

How to do stiff legged deadlift with a bar to tone the back of your legs

  • Carefully grasp the bar using the palms-down overhand grip
  • For a heavy lift, you might want to use wrist straps
  • Always keep your back straight and avoid any jerky movements
  • Adopt a stance with your torso straight and your feet at a width equal to or slightly narrower than that of your shoulders
  • With knees slightly bent and holding the bar at just below waist height, this is your starting point
  • Inhale as you keep your knees stationary, bend at the hips, and keep your back straight, as you lower the bar by making a forward movement until you feel your hamstrings stretch with the bar at a point between your knees and feet
  • Exhale as you extend your hips and straighten your torso, returning to your starting point
  • Repeat until you have completed your set

How to do a stiff legged deadlift with dumbbells to work your hamstrings

  • Carefully and firmly hold each dumbbell at arm’s length down either side of your body
  • Avoid any jerky movements and don’t try to use dumbbells that are too heavy for you
  • Adopt a comfortable starting position where your legs are the width of, or slightly narrower than, that of your shoulders. Your knees should be slightly bent and your torso straight
  • Keep your knees stationary as you move forward and lower the dumbbells to a point between knee and foot where you feel a stretch through your hamstrings – exhale as you complete this part of the exercise
  • Return your torso to its original position by extending your hips and waist – inhale as you complete this action
  • Repeat the exercise until you have finished your set of repetitions

How to do a dumbbell leg curl to tone up your hamstrings

  • Prepare bench at a slight incline
  • Select a dumbbell weight and place it at the end of the bench
  • Lie face down on the bench and position your knees so they're at the edge
  • Use your ankles to 'pick up' and secure the dumbbell
  • Fully extend your legs (if you're struggling for stability 'hug' the bench with your arms)
  • Bend your knees slowly and curl the dumbbell up towards your bum
  • Pause and lower the dumbbell until your legs are straight again
  • Repeat for the desired amount of reps and sets