The stability ball hip extension hamstring curl is a unique exercise that targets the hamstrings in a way you’ve never experienced before. Typically, the hamstrings are overlooked in favor of the glutes and quads. And when the hamstrings are trained, it’s often on a hamstring curl machine where the muscles aren’t truly engaged.
But that changes now.
There are many effective exercises that isolate and strengthen the hamstrings, such as RDL variations and the hamstring curl machine. However, one exercise that is often neglected because it doesn’t involve weights is the stability ball hip extension hamstring curl. This exercise will significantly improve your hamstrings, build valuable muscle, and reduce the risk of hamstring strains.
So, what exactly is the stability ball hip extension hamstring curl? It’s a bodyweight exercise that combines a straight leg hip extension and hamstring curl using an oversized stability ball. The instability of the ball engages more stabilizer muscles, preventing loss of balance and enhancing overall muscle engagement.
Unlike other hamstring exercises that only train the muscles in one way, this exercise targets both functions of the hamstrings as a knee flexor and a hip extensor. This provides more comprehensive training for your hamstrings.
How to Perform the Stability Ball Hip Extension Hamstring Curl
- Place both feet on top of the stability ball with your legs straight and your back on the ground.
- Raise your body into a straight-leg hip extension and squeeze your glutes.
- Curl the ball toward you until your feet are flat on the ball and your body is straight from hips to shoulders.
- Reverse the movement and return to the starting position.
As the name suggests, the stability ball hip extension hamstring curl primarily targets the lower body muscles with minor assistance from the upper body. The main muscles trained in this exercise include:
- Glutes: The glutes work concentrically during the hip extension and isometrically to maintain the position during the hamstring curl.
- Calves: The calves play a minor role in assisting the hamstrings with knee flexion.
- Hamstrings: This exercise effectively trains the hamstrings as both a hip extensor and a knee flexor.
- Anterior Core/Lower Back: These areas work isometrically to keep the spine neutral and allow the glutes and hamstrings to perform their functions.
Benefits of the Stability Ball Hip Extension Hamstring Curl
Aside from the aesthetic benefits, there are several reasons why you should incorporate this exercise into your routine:
- Hamstring Double Duty: This exercise targets both the knee flexion and hip extension functions of the hamstrings, leading to improved muscle development.
- Great for Runners: The instability of the ball mimics the unevenness of road running, making it an excellent exercise for runners. It also strengthens the glutes, which can enhance running performance.
- Improved Stability: The unstable nature of the stability ball increases balance and stability demands, requiring your glutes and core to work harder to maintain stability.
- Reduced Risk of Hamstring Strains: Focusing on eccentric contractions during this exercise helps reduce the risk of hamstring strains, as it improves hamstring eccentric strength and lengthens the biceps femoris muscle.
When performing the stability ball hip extension hamstring curl, it’s important to pay attention to your form. Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of the exercise:
- Correct Ball Height: Make sure the stability ball is the correct size for you. Sit on the ball, and if your thighs are parallel to the floor, it’s the right size.
- Control the Movement: Focus on the eccentric contraction and avoid rushing through the exercise. Perform the hip extension and hamstring curl as separate movements.
- Engage Your Glutes: Keep your spine neutral and prevent your hips from sagging by squeezing your glutes throughout the exercise.
The stability ball hip extension hamstring curl is best used as an accessory exercise to improve squat and deadlift performance, reduce hamstring strains, and increase muscle-building volume. Performing two to four sets of eight to 16 reps is recommended for most individuals. Supersetting this exercise with another floor or stability ball exercise can enhance training efficiency.
Stability Ball Hip Extension Hamstring Curl Variations
To keep your hamstrings challenged and prevent boredom, here are some variations and alternatives to try: