What function do the hamstrings perform? Most people would say knee flexion, and they would be correct. But they also perform one other function that many trainees ignore, hip extension. In fact their role as hip extensors may be more important than knee flexors. A lot of training programs, especially those for new trainees, ignore the hip extension function of the hamstrings. The hamstring exercises are usually made up of every variation of the leg curl: lying, seated, kneeling, toes in, toes out, etc.. But you are doing yourself a disservice if you’re not including some form of hip extension in your workout.
One exercise that I’ve used for years is the Swiss Ball Hamstring Curl. I like this exercise for a couple of reasons. One, the only equipment required is a Swiss Ball, so it can be done anywhere. Two, it trains both functions of the hamstrings, hip extension and knee flexion at once.
Lie flat on your back with your arms out to the side (t-shape) and palms facing up. Place both feet up on Swiss Ball with your legs straight. Press your hips up towards the ceiling (hip extension), creating a straight line. From this position, flex your knees (knee flexion) bringing the ball in towards your glutes. After a slight pause, roll the ball out (keeping hips up) and then repeat.