7 moves to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings - Women's Running

7 moves to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  June 14, 2021

Your glutes and hamstrings are vital to your overall strength – boost your running with this simple workout from Anne-Marie Lategan

Knee, lower-back and hamstring issues can be caused by a muscle imbalance between the quads and hamstrings, and weak glutes. Strengthen your hamstrings and get your glutes firing with this 7-move workout.

Sets, reps and frequency: Perform three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions three times per week, in combination with your running programme.

What you’ll need: You’ll need a stability ball for some of these exercises – check out one of our favourites here. A resistance band will also prove useful – you can find one here.

Prevent injury: Bridge toe raise

Bridge with toe raise

Muscles: Back thighs (hamstrings), bottom (glutes), core muscles (transverse abdominis) calves (gastrocnemius)

Why do it? Over-relying on your quadriceps for power when you run can cause quad strain, IT band syndrome, knee pain and other problems. Likewise, if your glutes don’t fire and contract during each stride, your hamstrings will take over this function, which can lead to overuse injury. This exercise combats both sites of injury.

• Lie on your back on the floor
• Place your feet flat on the floor with your heels close to your bottom
• Lift your hips off the floor until they form a straight line between your knees, hips and shoulders
• Squeeze your bottom, pull your tummy tight and hold this position
• Lift onto your toes
• Slowly lower your heels and then your bottom until you touch the floor, but don’t rest completely

Watch points: If you feel your muscles cramping, rest for a few seconds and reduce the number of repetitions. Build up until you can do the full set.

Prevent injury: Stability ball leg curl

Stability ball leg curl

Muscles: Back thighs (hamstrings), bottom (glutes), core muscles
(transverse abdominis)

Why do it?
In addition to reducing your risk of injury, improving your hamstring strength will help increase your power output when you run.

• Lie on your back with your feet on a stability ball and your arms next to your side
• Keep a 90-degree bend in your knees
• Lift your hips off the floor to form a straight line between your knees, hips and shoulders (this is the starting position)
• Straighten your legs by rolling the ball away from you
• Bend your knees and return to the starting position
• Don’t lower your hips to the floor

Watch points: Squeeze your bottom and pull your tummy tight but don’t hold your breath.

Prevent injury: Stability ball glute pulse

Stability ball glute lift with pulses

Muscles: Bottom (glutes)

Why do it? As mentioned, weak glutes can result in the over-loading of the hamstrings, which can lead to a number or injuries, including lower-leg and knee injury. By improving your glute strength and activation, you’ll reduce your injury risk, while also improving your running form, stability and power.

• Lie with your tummy on a stability ball and place your hands on the floor
• Bend your left knee and flex your foot (pull toes down)
• Keep your right foot on the floor for balance
• Push your left heel up to the ceiling and lift your leg as high as possible
• Lower your leg until your knee touches the ball
• Complete one set
• On the last repetition, hold the top position
• Do small controlled pulse movements at the top
• Repeat on the other leg

Watch points: Don’t hold your breath.

Prevent injury: Dumbbell curl

Dumbbell leg curl

Muscles: Back thighs (hamstrings)

Why do it? This exercise isolates the hamstrings and focuses on building strength.

• Lie on your stomach
• Hold a weight between your feet
• Curl your legs up towards your bottom
• Slowly lower with control

Watch points: Do slow, controlled movements to prevent building momentum in your muscles.

Prevent injury: Dumbbell curl

Resistance band leg curl

Muscles: Back thighs (hamstrings)

Why do it? During your running stride, you only ever have one foot on the floor. By developing strength in each of your legs, you’ll become a more stable runner.

• Tie a resistance band around a secure object
• Lie on your stomach on the floor and hook your foot into the resistance band loop
• Bend your knee, pulling your heel towards your bottom
• Lower with control, but keep some tension on the resistance band
• Complete one set before changing over to the other side

Watch points: Hold onto a secure object if you struggle to keep your balance.

Prevent injury: Side kicks

Standing sidekicks

Muscles: Bottom (glutes)

Why do it? This exercise will train both sides. On your standing leg, it will train the deeper stability muscles and, on the working side, the outer bum muscles.

• Stand on your right leg
• Hold onto a chair or wall if you struggle with your balance
• Lift your left leg as high as possible or until it is level with your hip
• Bend your left knee to get your heel as close as possible to your bottom
• Straighten your leg again but don’t lock your knee
• Repeat the move by straightening and bending your knee
• Complete one set standing on your right leg, before changing over to your left

Watch points: If you have knee problems, don’t bend your knee too much. Stay within a pain-free range. The higher you lift your leg, the harder the muscles have to work.

Prevent injury: Sumo squat

Sumo squat with sidekick

Muscles: Front thighs (quadriceps), inner thighs (adductors), bottom (glutes), balance and coordination

Why do it? This exercise will increase muscle strength, particularly in your glutes, while also improving your balance, coordination and cardiovascular fitness.

• Stand with your legs one-and-a-half times shoulder-width apart
• Bend your knees to perform a squat
• As you lift up, transfer your weight to your right leg and lift your left leg up
• Perform one side kick
• Put your foot back on the floor
• Perform another squat and repeat the side kick on the other side
• One kick on the left and right counts as one repetition

Watch points: Keep your tummy muscles tight to aid your balance.

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