Bodyweight Glute And Hamstring Exercises
The hamstrings and glutes are vital muscles in sports and in everyday life. Ironically, people overlook them. Other more “visible muscle groups” are often the focus of strength training. However, it makes sense to include bodyweight glute and hamstring exercises in your training in order to have balanced muscle groups. This article focuses on training the glutes and hamstrings using 10 bodyweight exercises.
1. Box Step Up
In box step-ups, you will step up on a box or bench. Take position in front of the box, bench or some kind of elevation. If you need extra weight, hold a dumbbell in each hand. Let your arms hang down, step onto the box with one leg first, and climb back down with the second leg. Your legs should be straight after the ascent.
2. Single Glute Bridge on Bench
In this glute exercise, lay with your upper back on a bench and bend one leg 90 degrees so that it touches the ground. Extend your other leg out straight. Using your leg touching the ground, perform a glute bridge by lowering your hips then raising them while contracting your glutes. Keep your hips square and focus on contracting the glutes. You really want to feel the contraction when raising the bridge. If you need added resistance, place a dumbbell or kettlebell on your waist.
3. Bodyweight Good Morning
Good mornings are an excellent bodyweight glute and hamstring exercise and have been popular in weightlifting and bodybuilding for some time. The good morning is said to have gotten its name as it looked like a stretch you would do right as you got up out of bed. You perform a bodyweight good morning by standing with your legs shoulder distance apart and using your hips to hinge or bend forward. Hinge forward as far as you can, while keeping your head, spine and pelvis all in a straight line. If you are doing it properly, you will pretty quickly feel tightness in your hamstring and glutes.
4. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (RDL)
The single-leg RDL is one of the best bodyweight glute and hamstring exercises for strengthening the glutes. Stand balancing on your right leg with the knee slightly bent. Keeping your back and left leg in a straight line, hinge at the hips, leaning slightly forward while letting your left arm hang down. Don’t bend or rotate the back. The back and left leg should always remain in a straight line. Then perform standing on the left leg. If you need additional resistance, hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in the arm that will hang down.
5. Standing Hamstring Curls
The standing hamstring curl is an ideal workout to improve balance and strength in the legs.
To do a standing hamstring curl:
- Stand with feet hip-width apart while placing your hands on your waist or a chair for balance and shifting weight onto the left leg.
- Slowly bend the right knee, bringing the heel towards the buttocks and parallel to your thigh.
- Slowly lower your foot, completing 12 to 15 repetitions, and repeat with the other leg.
For added resistance, place an elastic band under the foot you are standing on and around the ankle of the leg you are curling.
6. Bulgarian Squat Jumps
The Bulgarian squat jump is a variation of the classic lunge. It is an intense exercise, even when using just bodyweight! To perform a Bulgarian squat jump:
- Extend one leg backwards and place that foot on a bench (or chair).
- With the other leg, squat until it is at a 90-degree angle.
- Stand back up and when you reach the top of the movement, jump so that your foot comes off of the ground.
7. Box Jump Workout
The principle of the box jump is a dynamic jump on to a stable box. The box jump is another excellent bodyweight glute and hamstring exercise.
- Choose a box height and start at a height of about your knees.
- Standing in front of the box, keep your feet hip-width apart.
- Swing the arms backwards while slightly lowering the hips.
- Propel yourself to the top of the box using a leg push and upward arm movement.
- Stabilize the landing and unfold the knees completely.
- Descend one foot at a time or by jumping with two feet.
- Keep the knees at the same distance from each other throughout the movement.
Once you have mastered the movement, you can rebound off the descent with two feet to get back on the box without stopping between each. This increases the level of cardiovascular intensity of the exercise.
8. Single-Leg Box Squat
Doing the single-leg box squat can be challenging, but is a great bodyweight glute and hamstring exercise to tone your legs and core.
- Stand on one leg with a bench or chair behind you. Raise your other leg in front of you, with your arms also extended in front.
- Lower yourself into a squat position, while pushing the hips back until you touch the bench. Then return to the starting position.
If you get great at the single-leg box squat, try removing the bench and performing a pistol squat. If you’re not feeling that advanced but want some added resistance, grab a dumbbell.
9. Bodyweight Reverse Lunge
Reverse lunges are one of the most effective bodyweight glute and hamstring exercises. They are exactly the opposite of a regular lunge. Instead of lunging forward, you lunge backwards.
- Step back with one foot and bend down with both legs until they make a 90-degree angle.
- Stand back up and bring your foot forward next to the other.
- Repeat for the desired repetitions and switch legs.
10. Pilates Leg Kick
Pilates exercises focus on muscular balance. The pilates leg kick is great for working muscle groups like the hamstrings, glutes and the entire posterior chain. They also help the core to engage when the hips are pushed down.
- Start lying face down on a mat.
- Place your elbows and forearms on the floor, keeping the elbows slightly forward of the armpits. Your hands can touch or be flat on the mat.
- Relax your shoulders away from the ears. Keep the spine neutral and look forward.
- Push the pelvic bone into the ground and lift the stomach upward.
- Bend the right leg at the knee, moving the foot up towards the buttocks in two pulses, while exhaling. Be sure to engage the hamstring.
- Inhale and lower the leg. Then repeat with the left leg.
- Repeat three to six times on each side.
For variation, try using both legs when doing the pilates leg kick.