Build Stronger Hamstrings with the Single-Leg Toe Touch

Me doing a single-leg toe touch, my favorite exercise for the hamstrings

At-home workouts are great, and there are lots of ways that you can get your sweat on even if you don’t have access to much (or any) equipment. However, targeting your hamstrings without a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells can be tricky. That’s why I love the single-leg toe touch.

Benefits of the Single-Leg Toe Touch

The single-leg toe touch is an awesome exercise for strengthening the hamstrings and working on your hamstring mobility. Since it’s done while standing on one leg, it also helps to improve your balance and stability.

Strong, mobile hamstrings and improved stability help to minimize your injury risk and will transfer to other exercises. If you can perform a single-leg toe touch with ease, for example, you’ll have an easier time doing exercises like weighted single-leg deadlifts.

You can scale this exercise to make it fit your current skills level, too. The following are three variations that I recommend if you’re looking to target your hamstrings at home.

Bodyweight Hip Hinge

If you’re new to working out or just new to the single-leg toe touch, it’s important to first master the hip hinge before you take one leg off the ground. This will help you ensure you’re really working your hamstrings and getting the most out of the exercise.

To get comfortable with hip hinging, I recommend doing bodyweight hip hinges and using the wall for feedback (shown in the video down below).

Start by standing up straight with your heels about 5-6 inches away from the wall. Keep your legs locked with a slight bend in your knee. Then, send your hips back toward the wall while keeping your torso straight and your neck neutral (don’t extend it so you’re looking up toward the ceiling).

Supported Single-Leg Toe Touch

Once you’re feeling more confident in your hip hinging abilities, try taking one leg off the floor while holding onto the wall for support.

Start by standing up straight and raise your foot (the one opposite from the hand that’s holding the wall) off the floor a couple of inches. When you feel stable, send your hips backward as you did with the bodyweight hip hinge and let your leg follow.

Think about reaching back with the leg rather than sending it up toward the ceiling. At the same time that the hips and leg go backward, send your torso forward while keeping the back straight and neck aligned with the rest of the spine.

Reach down with your opposite hand toward the standing foot and try to touch the outside edge. If you can’t reach that far, try to touch the outside of your shin or knee instead.

Once you’ve touched whatever part of your body you’re trying to touch (yes, I know how that sounds, and I’m not changing it), push into the ground with your standing foot and rise back up, all while making sure the back stays straight.

Single-Leg Toe Touch

Once you’ve mastered the supported single-leg toe touch, you can move on to a regular single-leg toe touch without any assistance. You’ll likely find that you wobble a bit (or a lot) when you first start practicing this movement. The more you do it, though, the easier it’ll get.

The set up for this variation is the same as the supported option, only without your hand on the wall. I will either put my hand on my hip or extend it out to the side. From here, lift your opposite foot a couple of inches off the ground, then slowly begin to hinge at the hips and send that foot backward.

At the same time that the foot is going back, reach down while keeping the back flat and neck neutral. Try to touch the outside of the foot, shin, or knee. Hold this position for a second and then rise back up.

Video Breakdown

Not sure how to do any of these single-leg toe touch variations? Here’s a video showing an example of each option:

Start Strengthening Those Hamstrings!

There you have it! Three variations of the single-leg toe touch that you can add to your at-home (or gym) workouts to target your hamstrings. You can do these as your primary hamstring exercise, or you can use them as a warm-up before other exercises like deadlifts or hamstring curls.

What’s your favorite way to work the hamstrings? Comment below and let me know!

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