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Strong hamstrings make for strong knees. Gym equipment is the most convenient tool for targeting these large muscles just below your glutes -- in fact, that's exactly what a leg curl machine is built to do. If you're working out at home, though, you have to be a little more creative. With some careful body positioning and a single dumbbell, you can mimic the effects of the leg curl machine at home.1.
Warm up with at least five minutes of light cardiovascular exercise that works your hamstrings. Just about anything that involves your lower body will be sufficient -- think walking, jogging, calisthenics, bicycling and so on.2.
Lay a dumbbell flat on the floor. Next, lie on your stomach, feet on either side of the dumbbell handle. Prop yourself up on your elbows.3.
Squeeze your feet together around the dumbbell handle. One weight plate of the dumbbell should be against the soles of your feet with the other in front of your shins or ankles, depending on the dumbbell's length.4.
Exhale and contract your abs to keep your hips from rocking forward as you bend your knees, curling the dumbbell until it's straight above your knees.5.
Inhale and lower the dumbbell slowly back to the starting position. Maintain the tension in your hamstrings by lowering the weight as far as possible without actually resting it on the floor.6.
Continue until you've completed your target number of repetitions -- ideally, eight to 12.7.
Once you're done, stretch your hamstrings by lying on your back and extending one leg straight overhead. Keep your other leg bent, and a foot resting flat on the floor. Hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
- If you don't have a dumbbell handy, you can do this exercise with ankle weights.
- To make the exercise a little more challenging, place a few pillows beneath your hips. This will elevate your hips, changing the working angle for your hamstrings.
- The No. 1 priority for this exercise is not dropping the dumbbell on yourself. Always make sure you have a secure grip on the weight with your feet, even if it means lifting a lighter weight than you could otherwise manage.