Your hamstrings. The essence of a great, balanced physique. Along with your calves, they complement a round athletic butt to form the lower section of your posterior chain. Often neglected for the more prominent anterior chain muscles, typical hamstring exercises target them but they don’t exert a great deal of force.
Good thing I’m writing this. I got two great hamstring AND butt exercises for you today. So not only will you look bad ass, you’ll also get more athletic in the process.
We will start with the hamstrings first. Both of these exercises will recruit the hamstrings and they need little to no equipment. But don’t let that fool you. They’re going to be difficult. I know a little difficulty won’t stop you though.
Physio Ball Hamstring Curls
For this, you’ll need an inflatable yoga ball. And that’s it.
To start, lie on your back and place the ball beneath your calves so that it is above your feet. Squeeze that ass together and keep your knees locked.
Next, bend your knees and hips then straighten back out. Note that it’s going to take quite a bit to keep yourself stabilized, if this is a new exercise for you. Practice slow, use a smaller range of motion of you need to. Pair it with one of these great exercises.
Glute Ham Raise
The second one is a killer. With many names—Nordic curl, Glute Ham Raise, Harop Curl—it still serves one purpose. That purpose is to strengthen the shit out of your hamstrings. And it will do just that.
Depending on your setup, you have a few different ways you can do this one. Some opt for the lat pull down machine to anchor themselves.
If you have friends they can help by doing the following: you lie face down with your feet pointed and the tops of them touching the ground. Your friend steps onto the front of your foot so that they are on the balls of your feet. Your friend then squats down and grabs your ankles. You will then bend your knees and lift your body up.
Should you find that you are too big or not strong enough to do it this way, you have options for scaling.
Start at the end of the movement and bend at the hips and use less range of motion at the knee joint. This is how I am doing it in the video. You’ll still hit your hamstrings hard but you won’t face plant.
Last tip on this: use padding under your knees if you are doing this on the floor. You’re jamming them into the surface to propel yourself up. In an ideal world, every gym would have a proper glute ham raise device. But it is not so.
When people want a good butt, they squat. They tell other people to squat. While not a bad idea, there are better options out there. The main reason is that squats don’t move your hips as much as other movements. An obvious example is the deadlift. While the deadlift might be obvious, there are even better options for the most butt use. I got two other posterior chain moves just for you.
Before that, I am going to give a little tutorial on the hip hinge.
As you can see, I have a stick on my back. To start:
- Stand up straight and place the stick on your back so that your head, upper back, and ass are touching.
- If your shoulder mobility is terrible, have a friend hold the stick.
- Push your butt back while keeping the points of contact in place on the stick.
Unlike the squat, there is not a whole lot of knee bend, most of the movement is hip based. Avoid any rounding of the lower back, and you have now hinged. If your lower back does round, you will lose the points of contact on the stick. In which case, keep practicing. The hinge is integral to the next exercises. Use it to forge an ass worthy enough to be called Isildur’s Bane.
Glute Pull Through
Once you can hinge, place yourself in front of the low cable machine at your local gym. Or tether a band to a pole. Pull the cable through your legs and stand up straight. Push your butt back, stand back up. Repeat. Again, minimal knee bend, squeeze your ass, and stand tall. Your arms are just holding on to the cable, nothing more.
An advanced version of this would be the kettlebell swing. Work up to that and thank me later.
A variation on the old classic deadlift, this one is a pure hinge with weight. Don’t do it off the floor or with as much weight as your normal deadlift. Begin by picking the bar up from the rack or deadlifting the bar from the floor. Stand tall. Execute your hip hinge. Make sure the bar doesn’t drift forward, it needs to be close to your body. In fact, if it gently caresses your thigh in a loving way, so much the better. Feel that nice stretch in your hamstrings. Don’t round your back, and stop right around the knee area, stand back up, and you’re good to go.
Use these exercises to complement your quad workouts and you’ll have balance and power. Both of which are helpful to have in abundance. To save time, you can even superset the quad work with the posterior chain work. May the gains be ever in your favor.
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