All day today, I’ve been hobbling around because I have sore hamstrings. But – don’t’ get me wrong…I love it! Why am I so sore? Well, I did 4 sets of deadlifts yesterday with a 30lb kettlebell! Deadlifts are kinda sneaky because rarely do I feel them when I’m actually doing the exercise – but the next day it hits me. I prefer stiff-legged deadlfts (sometimes called Romanian deadlifts) pictured at left. Deadlifts work your hamstrings and glutes and give you a nice “lifted” look ; )
What You Need: 2 dumbbells a kettlebell or a barbell. I typically use anywhere from 25-40lb depending on how many reps/sets I’m doing – but if you are just starting out I would grab 2 5lb (10 total) or 8lb (16lb total) weights. If you have super tight hamstrings and/or low back – also stick to a lighter weight until you get some flexibility.
The Movement: Start in a standing position with your feet right under your hips (feet almost touching). Before you even start to lean over, draw your shoulder-blades down your back (shoulders away from ears) and think about keeping your back super flat. Slowly bend over releasing the weights down your legs (relax arms and let weights hang) until you get to about 90 degrees. It’s super important that you don’t start to round your back – so use a mirror if you need to and look from the side. Even if you are super flexible – you don’t really need to go much past 90 degrees or you could pull your hamstring. Keep your legs almost straight – with just a slight bend. You never want to lock out your knees or hyper-extend, but at the same time you do not want the knees to bend too much or you won’t target your hamstrings. Visualize what your legs are doing: your hamstrings are actually lengthening as you lean forward and then they tighten as you stand back up to the top. It’s this eccentric/concentric action that strengthens and tones your hamstrings! Also, the more you squeeze your glutes – the more you work them too! Exhale each time you stand back up to the top.
Sets/Reps: Depending on the weight you have – aim for about 12-15 reps and do 3-4 sets.
*Tip: It’s normal to feel this some in your lower back – it doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong. Just lighten the weight if you need to. Your low back and hamstrings work together a lot, including during this exercise. Typically your lower back is weaker than your hamstrings, so you will probably feel it in your back while you are doing it but then your hamstrings will be the sorest the next day.