If you want to build bigger hamstrings and glutes, you’re going to have to perform more exercises than just Squats and Leg Curls. You may even have to add a second leg-training day, if these muscle groups are a lagging area for you.
Don’t worry though, in this article I’ll explain exactly what you need to be doing to grow those lagging areas.
Hamstrings & Glutes 101: Activation & Anatomy
Now, we all know where our hamstrings and glutes are located but I know many of you are wondering why I am grouping these two muscles groups together versus examining them separately, like I usually do.
Well, the reason is that these muscles are created to work together. Your body prefers to activate the glutes in conjunction with your hamstrings and as a result, this is the way you should be training these muscles, to maximize muscle growth and performance.
And believe or not, failure to do so, could lead to pain or even a serious injury. Why?
Well, let’s say you’re only performing leg curls to train your hamstrings, right? After a while, this will effectively teach your hamstrings to fire independently of your glutes, which will detrimentally affect the power and explosiveness of your hips, leading to weaknesses on exercises such as Squats and Deadlifts.
Then as a result of not receiving support from your glutes as you lift heavier weights, your hamstrings start to become overloaded during these exercises and this can lead to a pull or a tear.
So, with that in mind, which exercises are best to keep your glutes and hamstrings working together?
Hamstrings & Glutes 101: The Exercises
The Glute Bridge
Setting up for this exercise isn’t the most fun but I can’t stress enough how important this movement is for lower body strength and injury prevention. Also, if done correctly, you will build insane strength in your glutes and hamstrings, while also reducing pain and stress on your lower back.
Now, as for how to properly perform the Glute Bridge. The first thing to always remember is that you’re not just laying on the floor. The goal here is to compact your body as much as you can, to maximize the driving force coming from your hips into the barbell.
So once on the ground, pack your shoulders, bring your feet as close as you can to your butt and make sure your lower back is FLAT. Lastly, be sure to lock out your elbows as you push the bar into your thighs.
From here, take a deep breath, brace your core and explosively lift the weight off the floor. If you do it right, you should feel an insane contraction in your glutes and hamstrings at the top of each repetition!
The Bodyweight Hamstring Curl
Another exercise to teach your hamstrings and glutes to work in unison is the Bodyweight Hamstring Curl. However, if you’ve never performed this exercise, know that it is really hard to perform, especially for the first few times you try it!
To get started, all you need to know is anchor your feet under a barbell. Once you do that, the goal is to perform a hamstring curl with anything from your knees to your head staying in a straight line. So, make sure you brace your core and tense up, so that your body moves up and down as a single unit.
Now, chances are, you won’t be able to lift your body off the ground, especially if you haven’t practiced this movement before. That’s ok though. All you have to do, is provide some assistance using your hands or a bar. This way, you can “cheat” slightly during the concentric of the exercise and then do our best to control the negative!
You can also use a medicine or even a physio ball to “catch” yourself as you fall and help push back to the top, almost like a diamond pushup.
The Romanian Deadlift
For the third and final exercise, we’re going to take close look at the Romanian Deadlift.
First of all, although it’s called a “dead” lift, aside from the first rep, you don’t have to pull the weight off the floor. In fact, the entire point of this exercise is to engage your hamstrings by maximizing the stretch that is placed on them.
Also, you don’t have to use a belt and lifting straps, but they can certainly help you if you decide to lift heavier weights and focus solely on the hamstrings and glutes.
The goal with this exercise, is to SIT BACK with every rep as you lower the bar towards the ground. Then, use your glutes and hamstrings to get back to the top position, preferably in an explosive manner.
How Often Should You Train Your Glutes & Hamstrings?
Depending on your current workout split, there are a few ways you can implement the above exercises.
If glutes and hamstrings are lagging areas for you, you should incorporate at least 2 of the exercises I just showed you into your workouts.