7 no-kit exercises for happy hamstrings and glutes | Women's Running

7 no-kit exercises for happy hamstrings and glutes

Read Time:   |  May 12, 2021

Strengthen your glutes and hamstrings with these simple bodyweight exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere

Lots of running niggles and injuries can be traced back to weak glutes and hamstrings. But, if you’re anything like us, strength training can often slip to the bottom of the to-do list in our running routine. We’ve got the solution: 7 simple bodyweight exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere.

Ideally, you’d do 3 sets (12-15 reps) of each of these 3 times a week, but even if you bust out one round of each before a run, or squeeze in a couple of sets while you’re watching Netflix, it all adds up to stronger muscles, fewer imbalances and a reduced chance of injury.

As always, if any of the exercises cause you pain or don’t feel right for your body, don’t do them, and do consult a doctor first if you’re pregnant or injured.

 

Sumo squat pulse

Pulsing movements are amazing for targeting the hardest part of the move, making your muscles work harder without the need for extra weight or kit. This exercise will start to burn after a few reps – and that’s exactly what we want!

Technique: 

  • Take your feet wide – we want them to be at least wider than your hips, with your toes turning out. How far they turn out will depend on your body, so try taking a single squat to check your form before you start – we want our knees to be moving out, rather than knocking in, and our heels to stay on the floor. Adjust as necessary.
  • Squat down until your bum is in line with your knees.
  • Take 12-15 little pulses, just moving up and down slightly while keeping the knees open and the heels pressed into the floor. Some people like to hold their arms straight out while they pulse, or press the palms together at the chest.

Make it easier: 

Return to standing after every 3 pulses.

Make it harder:

Add a squat jump in-between every 3 pulses.

Curtsey lunge

This one is great for working our gluteus medius – the muscle on the side of our bums. This muscle might be little, but is one of the key players when it comes to keeping your knees happy as you run. This exercise can feel a little strange at first, as it’s a movement we don’t normally do in daily life, but as long as it’s not painful, stick with it and you’ll start to notice the benefits.

Technique:

  • Stand with feet hip-width distance apart.
  • Keeping your chest up and hips facing forward, take your right leg behind you and over to the left, bending the knee, as though you were doing a curtsey. Your front leg will bend too. Make sure your curtsey is big and wide, to maximise the muscle activation and make it feel comfortable.
  • Pressing into your left leg, lift back up to standing, returning the right leg to its original position. Repeat on the opposite side.

Make it easier:

Hold onto a door handle or chair for balance.

Make it harder:

See if you can hover the right foot off the floor as you move through your curtsey, working on balance and strength.

Single leg deadlifts

Balancing movements are a great way to make bodyweight exercises more effective – the muscles in your whole leg will have to work hard to keep you upright. If you find balancing movements tricky, focus on where you’re looking; keeping your eyes on a fixed point as you move will help.

Technique: 

  • Start standing, with your feet below your hips. Take your hands to your hips.
  • Lift one foot up and off the floor, flexing the toes. Start to fold forward at your hips, lifting the leg up behind you, until your chest and thigh is parallel with the floor. If your leg can’t quite get to parallel, don’t go as far with the chest – we want there to be a straight line between our shoulders and our heel.
  • Squeeze your glutes to lift the chest back up to standing and the foot back underneath the hips. Repeat on the other side.

Make it easier:

Hold onto a wall or chair to help keep the balance.

Make it harder:

Reach your arms up either side of your head before you do the movement, working your shoulders and core.

Hamstring walkouts

These are a great alternative to hamstring curls as they don’t require sliders or a machine to do them. The key is to focus on keeping your hips stable and moving slowly to really engage the muscles.

Technique:

  • Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor about hip-width distance apart.
  • Starting with your heels underneath your knees, squeeze your glutes to lift your bum off the floor into a bridge position.
  • Lift the toes so that you’re balancing on your heels.
  • Slowly walk your heels away from you, keeping your bum away from the floor by squeezing your glutes for as long as possible – this will get harder the further your feet go.
  • Slowly walk the heels back into the starting position.

Make it easier:

Press your palms into the floor either side of your hips to take some of the weight off your heels.

Make it harder:

Reach your arms up towards the ceiling to challenge your stability.

Clamshells

These might seem quite innocuous, but they pack a punch when it comes to strengthening your medial glutes and improving hip stability.

Technique:

  • Lie on one side, resting on your elbow with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle, stacked on top of each other.
  • Keeping your feet touching, start to open the leg that’s on top, so that the knee is pointing up towards the ceiling. Make sure your hips don’t swing back – keep them stacked.
  • Slowly return the leg back to the starting position.
  • Roll onto the other side to do the other leg.

Make it easier:

Place your hand on your hip to help stabilise the hip during the movement.

Make it harder:

Lift your feet slightly off the floor before you start the move, or add a resistance band around your thighs.

 

Single leg glute bridge

Single leg work is really important for runners, as each leg takes all of our weight as we run. This exercise will make sure that both legs are strong on their own, and show you if there are any weaknesses on one side.

Technique:

  • Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor underneath the knees, about hip-width distance apart.
  • Press into the heels and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips away from the floor into a bridge position.
  • Pressing into one heel, lift the opposite heel off the floor, reaching it forward so that the leg is straight.
  • Lower your bum down towards the floor, keeping that leg lifted, and then squeeze your glutes to lift the hips back up to the starting position.
  • Swap legs and repeat on the other side.

Make it easier:

Instead of reaching the leg forward, cross the ankle over the thigh of the supporting leg.

Make it harder:

Instead of reaching the leg forward, lift it up towards the ceiling.

Superwoman legs

Having strong back muscles is really important for runners and this nifty little exercise works both the glutes and the back. Don’t worry about height – focus on engaging the muscles in a controlled way to reap the rewards.

Technique:

  • Lie on your front on the floor, reaching your arms up over your head. Look down towards the floor.
  • Keeping your chest and arms on the floor, start to lift your legs up away from the floor, engaging your glutes and back muscles and pointing your toes. Try to lift all the way up to your hips.
  • Slowly lower back down to the starting position.

Written by

Kate Sellers

Kate Sellers

Loves a muddy trail run with her dog in tow

Meet the team

We use cookies to give you a better experience on womensrunning.co.uk. By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing to the use of cookies as set in our Cookie Policy.

OK, got it