Strengthen Your Legs With This Hamstring And Glute Workout
Page last updated: 8th August 2022
Looking for a leg day workout that will grow your glutes and hamstrings? PureGym Personal Trainer Harley has shared 5 of the best hamstring and glute exercises that will strengthen and sculpt your muscles.
Why strengthen your glutes and hamstrings?
There’s more to strong legs than an Instagram-worthy behind – almost everyone can benefit from strengthening their glutes and hamstrings. Both muscles are involved in key functional movements: glutes help to stabilise your hips and pelvis, and are responsible for hip extension movements, while your hamstrings are involved in extending your legs and bending your knees.
Having strong, supple glutes and hamstrings helps to:
- Improve posture
- Prevent injuries
- Reduce back pain
- Increase athletic performance
Unfortunately, sedentary lifestyles wreak havoc on these muscles. Sitting down for long periods of time can cause weak and tight glutes and hamstrings, so for those who sit down for work, doing dedicated hamstring and glute exercises is really important.
How to strengthen glutes and hamstrings
The best way to strengthen and grow any muscles is through regular resistance training, ensuring you progressively overload the resistance (for example by increasing the reps, time, or weight) to challenge the muscles.
The below hamstring and glute workout uses weights to create resistance. You can do this workout two to three times a week, or pair it with another leg workout (you can find more leg and glute workouts here.)
Glute and Hamstring Workout
Perform 3 – 4 sets of each exercise, with 45 – 60 seconds rest between each set. Aim to increase either the weights or reps each week to ensure you are continually challenging the muscles to help them grow.
Pause Squats - 10 reps
Pause squats use the same format as regular squats, but with a two-second pause at the bottom range of motion, in the deepest part of the squat. You can start using your body weight and then integrate weights such as a kettlebell, dumbbell or barbell as you progress.
- Stand tall with feet slightly wider than hip-width distance apart, feet turned out.
- Straightening your back and bracing your abs, sink your hips back and down towards the floor. Make sure that your knees don’t go over your toes while doing this movement by keeping the weight in your heels.
- When your hip sinks just below the knees, stay in this position for at least a two-second pause, and then drive your hips back up towards the ceiling to return to standing position.
You can discover more squat variations to try here.
Romanian Deadlift - 8 reps
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Keeping the dumbbells close to your body, hinge forward at the hips to drop the weights towards the floor, or until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
- Drive your hips back to standing, making sure to squeeze your glutes.
While this workout uses RDLs, feel free to switch it up – we look at different deadlift variations here.
Hip Thrusts - 10 reps
The hip thrusts lying down is a brilliant exercise for your hamstring and glutes, just make sure to really squeeze and activate your muscles at the top of the movement.
- Sit in front of a workout bench or a similar type of support (the edge of your bed could do the trick), with your shoulders leaning against the edge and knees bent.
- Your feet should be around shoulder-width apart, planted on the floor in front of you at a distance that allows your knees to be bent at a 90-degree angle when you’re fully extended in the hip thrust. You might want to check this before adding weight.
- If you’re not using a weight, feel free to place your elbows either side of you on the bench for additional support. If you are using a weight, you’ll need your hands to keep it steady.
- Engage your core and while keeping your upper back in contact with the bench, start to squeeze your glutes and lift your hips up to the ceiling. Try to keep your upper body steady.
- When your body is forming a fairly straight line and your knees are at 90 degrees, hold for a moment before gently easing back down to starting position.
Bulgarian Split Squats - 20 squats
Bulgarian split squats are a single-leg squat that is particularly good for targeting your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. It’s a great all-rounder exercise for your lower body.
- Rest your foot on a bench behind you and get into a forward lunge position with your back straight and core tight.
- Keeping your knee in line with your foot, lower your hips down until your front thigh is almost horizontal.
- Push through your heel to drive up to the starting position and repeat.
Step Ups - 20 reps
Step ups activate most of the muscle groups in your lower body, including your glutes, hamstrings, quads and adductors, helping with strength, toning and hip flexibility.
- Stand in front of a step or plyo box with your feet hip-width apart. Brace your core.
- If using dumbbells, hold a dumbbell in each hand.
- Place your left foot onto the box and drive through this foot to push your body up and bring your right foot onto the platform.
- As you push up, focus on squeezing your glutes and maintaining a tall spine.
- Return your right leg back to the floor. Focus on using your leg muscles to control the descent.
- You can alternate between legs or switch after you've finished reps.
We cover different variations of step ups here.
Want more leg day inspiration? Personal Trainer Courtney has shared 10 leg moves you can do with dumbbells below.
This workout is best done at the gym, but you can adapt it to be a home workout by using bodyweight or grabbing heavy items from around your house. For more workout ideas, check out our guide to the best glutes exercises for women, or download our free PureGym app where we have workouts available for everyone to use. Become a member at a PureGym near you and start strengthening your lower body today!