Garage-gym Friendly Hamstring Exercises

The current cycle of my training program (I am following the Invictus competition blog, scaling it for my current abilities) has called for a lot of glute-ham raises, weighted hip extensions, and the occasional banded leg curl.

Two of these hamstring-focused exercises require me to adapt the movement for my garage-gym equipment supply; one of them is actually an ingenious variation of a hard-to-simulate machine based exercise that is one of the few machine exercises I miss being able to do.

First for the substitutions:
I’ve seen people willing to pin their feet under a barbell to simulate both hip extensions and glute-ham raises, but my setup doesn’t make that an appealing option. I’d like to try it for the raises, but I’ve stuck to some simpler methods for now. There are a surprising number of solutions to the “I don’t have a GHD” problem out there online – including what’s called a “natural” glute-ham raise, which can be done with as little equipment as a handy wall. The video below was an excellent source of ideas both for equipment substitutions, and scaling if you don’t have the strength to do the move unassisted quite yet:

I like the version which requires only the wall – and I’ve played around a bit with my foam roller as a stand-in for an ab wheel, which I don’t have and really am not interested in purchasing.

For weighted hip extensions, I typically substitute good-mornings. They aren’t quite the same (and I personally think hip extensions on the GHD are fun…) but it hits similar points for the hip hinging motion, torso stability, and hamstring work.

And finally: a few weeks ago the final portion of my workout instructed me to do “banded hamstring curls.” This video was linked below – and I’m only sorry I didn’t come across it sooner! The solution is so simple I feel like maybe I should have thought of it myself. Isolation exercises alone may not be the way I prefer to train, but they have their place and the hamstring curl in particular is a stimulus it is hard to replicate… Unless you happen to have some bands (mine are JumpStretch, which I ordered from Amazon), something to hook those bands to, and something to sit on! Not exactly obscure or expensive, right? I held on to my bench slightly behind where I was sitting; I think no hands would make this much harder.

Finally – I have not tried this one yet, but it’s an interesting idea and looks like it would be a very effective substitution – essentially a sliding curl of the legs along the floor:

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