The Best Exercises for Glutes and Hamstrings

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Your glutes and hamstrings are the el classic of leg muscles. Working them is going to shape your legs and lift your butt, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want that?

Not only are these exercises going to help you shape up, but it can help with loosening up tight hamstrings. On top of that, you’re also going to be increasing your flexibility.

Working on your glutes and hamstrings is going support your other leg exercises, too. Meaning you’re going to be able to squat lower for longer.

Reverse Plank

We’re all familiar with, and dread, the common plank. While great for your core, there are variations of the plank to optimize the targeting of your leg muscles.

The reverse plank is one such exercise. To start, sit down on your mat with your legs straight and extended. Place your hand’s palm down just behind your butt, keeping your fingers pointed towards the body. Pressing into your hands, push your hips up until your body forms a straight line. Hold this position for three to five seconds and return to your starting position.

This counts as one rep – much shorter than you’re used to with traditional planks. The beauty of this exercise is that you don’t have to alternate for each leg. Just get through your sets, and you’re done.

There are also variations on the reverse plank itself. You can do one with a toe tap, for example. To do this, once in the plank position, bend your right knee and tap the mat with your toes. Repeat this with the left knee for one rep.

Crabwalks

I’m willing to bet that you’ve heard or seen this exercise somewhere before. A favorite of gym teachers everywhere, the crabwalk is a great exercise for your hamstrings and glutes.

To start, sit down with your knees bent and both feet flat on the mat. Make sure your hands are behind your body in the same position as the reverse plank. Push off with your hands and feet to lift your butt off the mat. Moving with the same hand the same foot, take a step forward. Repeat with the other side. That’s one rep.

You can move backward with the same motion in order to make use of the space on your mat.

It’s going to feel awkward doing this exercise at first. However, give it some time, and you should have no problem with it.

The crabwalk is a particularly intense exercise, and like planks, uses your bodyweight as resistance. You’re going to feel this in your core and your upper body, as well as your legs. This makes it a great all-round workout to include in your training routine.

Resistance Band Kickbacks

Resistance band kickbacks are a great way to get your glutes and hamstrings in good shape. It’s a particularly versatile exercise and can be done in a few different positions. For this entry, we’re going to be talking about the standing resistance band kickbacks.

You’re going to need a chair and a resistance band for this one. Loop the band around the foot of the leg you’re focusing on and hold the rest in your hands. Bend slightly at the hips while balancing yourself on the back of the chair.

From there, extend your leg until it is straight, and return to your starting position for one rep—alternate legs for each set of reps.

This exercise can also be done by looping the band around your ankles, standing straight, and kicking back from there. You can also do it on the ground on all fours. Simply loop the band around your foot and kick back and up.

Or, you can do it on all-fours.

Good Mornings

This oddly named exercise is great for a number of reasons. Mainly, as well as loosening up your hamstrings and building your glutes, it’s going to help with lower back pain.

You can do this exercise with or without added weights; it’s up to you.

For the version with weights, grab yourself two dumbbells. Stand with your legs at shoulders width apart. Bending your arms, rest the dumbbells on your back just behind your shoulders. This is your starting position.

With your knees slightly bent, and a straight core, bend yourself forward at the hips. Do this until your upper body is parallel with the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds, then return to start.

For the variation without weights, you’re going to need a wooden pole, or something similar. You don’t want to use a barbell as most are going to be too thick.

Instead of resting the dumbbells along your back, rest the pole on your shoulders. Draw your shoulder blades back and push out your chest. Then you just repeat the exercise as usual.

Glute Bridge

As you might expect, given the name, glute bridges are great for targeting the glutes. The exercise is very similar to reverse planks, except that the angle of your body is the opposite.

Lie flat on your mat and bend your knees while keeping your feet flat on the mat. Make sure your feet are hip-width apart. Keep your arms flat along your sides. Through your heels, raise your pelvis up until your body is forming one line from knee to chin. Hold for a second, and return to your starting position for one rep.

Single Leg Deadlift

This deadlift variation is surprisingly tough, so use less weight than you would typically. You can use a kettlebell or a dumbbell, whichever you prefer.

Check our best Kettlebells and Dumbbells

Using a neutral grip, hold your weight of choice in the hand of the leg you’re focusing on. Place the other hand on your hip. Keep both feet flat and planted firmly on the floor to finish your starting position.

Bend the focused knee slightly and hinge yourself forward at the hip. Do this until you’re parallel to the ground. Extend your non-focused leg out behind you and extend your spine. Pushing through your focused heel, extend your hips to the starting position to complete one rep. Repeat this process as you need, and swap leg.

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