Help me gain glute/hamstring strength
February 14, 2018 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Following recent good advice on core strength, I'm now looking for recomendations for exercises for my glutes and hamstrings. I seem to be very quad-forward and can't engage my glutes and hamstrings as easily. I’m looking for recommendations for exercises to strengthen them, but without risking significant loads on my back/spine, like squats. (I'm not looking for advice on squats.) Compound movements would be preferred, along with exercises in which I could progressively increase the difficulty with additional weight or time.

I work out at a fairly well equipped gym, so there are barbells, dumbells, kettlebells, pulley and plate machines, etc., along with space and mats for working on the floor.
posted by jroybal to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Weighted hip thrusts: If you look on YouTube you can see lots of people demonstrating this move. It's the best thing for isolating glutes.
Deadlifts are great too!
I'd suggest finding a glute activation routine too (also on YouTube, my personal trove of workout guidance).
posted by elke_wood at 7:29 AM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

Good mornings are a great hamstring/glute workout. I would start with no weight and gradually grow to the barbell and then barbell + weights. I can squat and deadlift pretty close to 200 and barbell GM's were hard for me!
posted by orangesky4 at 7:42 AM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Glute Ham Raises are what you're looking for. You will have this machine at your gym. Use it. It's really really really hard at first (for what it's worth I can deadlift around 200 pounds, but can only manage to string together 4 of these).

Sorenson holds are also devilishly simple and hard.

Single leg deadlifts to work on having balanced strength.

Kettlebell swings. Watch out for the overhead one if you have shoulder issues. You can swing to just shoulder level if the overhead extension is hard.

And also, straight up good old rowing on the erg is wonderful for your hamstrings and glutes! Same motion on that as the deadlift, but without all the weight and strain and risk of throwing out your back. Also a wonderful cardio workout.
posted by astapasta24 at 7:51 AM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

straight leg dead lifts will get your hamstrings very nicely, though not sure how well that jibes with "no-squats" (I don't do squats, assuming like you, because my back won't tolerate them. I can deadlift, but I top out around 180-200lbs, because other things twinge.. )
posted by k5.user at 7:57 AM on February 14, 2018

I’m insanely quad dominant too, and am working on the same thing! Deadlifts didn’t do the trick for me at all — I was deadlifting 235 lbs for reps at a bodyweight of 125 with weak ass hammies.

One thing that’s helped now that I’m finally back in the gym (after a few years!) is to think about driving through my heels to engage the entire posterior chain. Like I go really slow and consciously feel and activate the whole thing. It’s kind of annoying, but if I don’t do this the muscles that are already all fiddler-crab lopsided just do all the work. I also have this problem with lats, chest and traps vs mid back.

Actually — do you also have an anterior pelvic tilt and the rounded shoulders / forward hunch thing?
posted by schadenfrau at 8:16 AM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

You may want to look into Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs).
posted by oblique red at 8:20 AM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I had to go to physiotherapy because my quads were massively overpowered compared to my glutes (nerf pls). One exercise that I found very helpful (and quite tough at first, because I was so weak) was fire hydrants (youtube link). I used an elastic band right below my knee to increase the difficulty as I got stronger. I tried to lift my knee out and hold it for 30s, as many times as I could.
posted by threementholsandafuneral at 8:25 AM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by cotton dress sock at 9:17 AM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I feel like all the exercises observed on Bret Contreras' Instragram account are just what you need here.
posted by Kurichina at 10:00 AM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Box jumps are a pretty good one. I found that after I started doing them I became much more aware of my glutes and what it felt to actually be using them which helped my squats out.

Split squats are quite good too. If you do them without holding any weights then there won't be any load on your back.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:50 AM on February 14, 2018

Also came to recommend Bret Contreras, aka The Glute Guy.
posted by yawper at 11:55 AM on February 14, 2018

Echoing the recommendation for Romanian dead lifts. More than the standard deadlift, these emphasize the hamstring and glute muscles, and are effective at a lower weight. I was doing conventional deadlifts for a long while, but still felt and saw a big improvement in the hamstrings when I added RDLs. They are compound movements where you can easily add weight.

A similar movement is the hyperextension. Some will favor one, some the other. Personally, I feel the RDL more in the hamstrings, and hyperextensions more in the lower back and glutes. Both fulfill all your requirements at reasonable weights.
posted by exutima at 1:08 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Donkey kicks with ankle weights help me a lot with this.
Also doing bridge exercises, with or without a yoga ball to add a bit of a challenge.
posted by onecircleaday at 5:03 PM on February 14, 2018

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