It’s not a surprise that your hamstrings and glutes are the most under-trained parts of your body. Unfortunately, they are often skipped on the notorious leg day. Those who skip leg day do not understand how necessary it is to train them. Avoid muscle imbalances and injuries by training your legs properly.
If you think about it, there is no muscle group that gets put on the backburner more than your hamstrings and glutes. Many people opt to not squat, or even train legs at all.
In this guide, we will go over several different exercises that you can perform to enhance your hamstrings and glutes. Let’s start with training your glutes first.
Training Your Glutes
1. Bodyweight Squats
Bodyweight squats are a super-effective exercise to train your glutes. You can add a bit of variation by holding a light weight in your hand, but let’s start with bodyweight squats.
Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder width, and extend your arms straight in front of you. Looking straight ahead, fix your eyes on one spot of the wall, do not look towards the floor.
Now, break at your hips and push your butt back. Keep drawing your body downwards until your knees are bent. Make sure that you keep the tension on your hips and glutes, not on your knees. Right before your knees fully bend, stand up again to the starting position.
Try for at least 20-30 squats in the beginning and strive to hit 40-50 a day.
2. Hip Thrust
The hip thrust trains your glutes so that you have a powerful, rounder, and firmer booty. Once again, we’ll go for bodyweight hip thrusts first, then add weight later.
For the starting position, put your shoulder blades against a flat bench and spread your arms across the bench for better stability. Take a deep breath and brace your core. Now, squeeze your glutes, lift up your hips and hold that position for a few seconds.
Adding weight to this exercise is easy, and it will make your hip thrusts much more difficult. You can use chains, weight plates, dumbbells, or even a barbell.
Aim for three sets of 10.
3. Cable Kickbacks
Cable kickbacks will really lift your glutes and make them much firmer. Stand straight facing the weight stack and grab the cable tower for support. Slowly kick your leg back until your hip is fully extended. Your glutes should now be fully contracted.
Hold this position for a couple of seconds, gradually bringing your leg back to the starting position. Repeat the same move with your other leg.
Aim for 1 set of 20 per leg.
4. Glute Bridges
This exercise is extremely simple, but proper technique is required to make it effective. Lie on the floor, bend your knees, and keep your feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms to your side and have your palms facing down.
Lift your hips off of the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders come into a straight line. Finally, hold this position for a couple of seconds and slowly descend down to your starting position.
Aim for three sets of 20.
Deadlifts are a great posterior chain exercise. Perform deadlifts with a conventional stance, and make sure you use a lifting belt. Focus on proper form and really squeezing your glutes on lockout.
Aim for 3 sets of 10.
6. Single Leg Hip Thrust
Start by lying with your back on the floor with your knees bent. Leave your hands by your side with your palms facing up.
Raise your left leg off of the ground while pulling your knee to your chest. Next, execute the movement simply through driving your heel, extending your hip upwards, and raising your glutes off of the ground. Extend as much as you can and gradually come back to starting position. Repeat with your right leg.
Aim for two sets of 12 per leg.
Training Your Hamstrings
1. Low Bar Squat
Low bar squats are a great posterior chain exercise that will really enhance your glutes and hamstrings. You will need to have a power rack for safety. Start by sliding your back under the barbell down to where your shoulder blades are located.
Now with a narrow grip, squeeze your upper back and keep your body tight the whole time. Take a deep breath, and squat. These are much more difficult than bodyweight squats, so take your time and learn proper form.
If you aren’t familiar with how to do lunges, place your hands on your hip and stand up straight. Step forward with your right leg and gradually lower your body until the front knee is bent at 90-degrees.
Make sure your back knee does not touch the floor. Push yourself back to the starting position and repeat the same process with your other leg. Walking lunges may feel more natural if you have a hard time balancing.
Aim for two sets of 20.
3. Split Squats
Start off by grabbing two dumbbells of your desired weight. Stand with your rear foot on a flat bench, and your other foot in front of you. Think of this exercise like a lunge with your rear leg elevated.
Like lunges, you will slowly descend, flexing your knee and hip. Make sure you have good balance and keep your front knee aligned with your foot. When you reach the bottom, hold this position for a second, then drive through your heel and extend your knee to return to your starting position.
Aim for 2 sets of 20.
4. Heel Drags
There are several different ways to perform heel drags; the best way is sitting in a chair with wheels. Straighten your legs and maintain your contact with the floor. Now, drag yourself forward using your heels.
Heel drags are great for those who have anterior knee pain. These will help build a balanced load on your knees while targeting your glutes.
Perform 2 sets of 15 per leg.
5. Hamstring Thrust
Last but not least is the hamstring thrust. Set up a barbell in front of you, and lay your shoulder blades on a flat bench. Make sure you wear shoes with flat soles.
Keep your legs planted and bring your torso up by extending your hips. Extend your hips until the bar is above your knees and slowly descend back to your starting position.
Aim for two sets of 10 reps.