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Lower Body Exercise: Straight Back Leg Lifts for Hamstrings

Fitday Editor

When they say "Out of sight, out of mind!" I think of the hamstring. Hamstring strength can sometimes suffer as the back of the leg is not the first place we look when we check ourselves out in the mirror. However hamstring strength is essential to balancing out overdeveloped quads and assisting in injury prevention. The Straight Back Leg Lift is a nice introductory hamstring exercise to give some attention to that sometimes forgotten muscle group.

Step by Step:

1. Start with your hands and knees on the floor. Hands are directly underneath your shoulders and your knees are underneath your hips. (Image 1)

2. Extend your left leg straight back behind you, keeping your foot in line with your hip. Make sure your hips stay in line and don't let your left hip rotate out or back. The top of your foot should face the floor. (Image 2)


3. Contract your hamstring to lift your leg 6 to 10 inches above your leg position in #2, without rotating your left hip. (Image 3) The top of the foot should still face the floor at your highest lift position. If your hip starts to rotate, lessen the height of your leg lift.


Start out with a small number of repetitions and then switch to the other leg for an equal number of reps. Continue to increase your reps as your hamstrings get stronger and you can start to add ankle weights for an even tougher hamstring workout!

Photos by: Andie Baker

Katy Moeggenberg owns, manages, and instructs at both the Blue Ash Shaolin-Do and Anaya Belly Dance in Cincinnati, Ohio. She's a Kung Fu black belt (4th degree), professional dancer and choreographer, runner, and Yogi. She has enabled a variety of goals for her clients to come true-fine tuning professional dancers' routines, honing martial artists' skills for complex competitions, and empowering clients to lose as much as 100 pounds. She performs dance and Kung Fu over 50 times a year across national venues. In addition, her teaching has been featured and sought after at national dance conventions and NFL cheerleader training camps. Learn more about Katy at

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