Q&A: Glute and hamstring exercises
Q: I have some questions about glute and hamstring exercises. I find these hard groups to target. For example, I’ve read so many great things about deadlifts…but my problem is that I can’t hold enough weight to get a good workout – my hands give out.
A: I’m assuming that you’re talking about Romanian (stiff leg) deadlifts where you start with the weight in your hands and bend at the hips to lower it. Some people suggest using an alternating grip to address grip strength but personally I’m not a fan of that because it puts uneven stress on your shoulders. I actually like straps for deadlifts. Something else to keep in mind with these exercises is that it’s a good idea to have about a 20 degree knee bend as opposed to straight leg because that helps to target glutes more than hamstrings.
There are of course other great options for glutes and hamstrings:
- Single leg versions of the Romanian deadlift are great – takes a bit of doing to get the balance, but because it’s one leg doing the work, you can get more involvement with the same amount of weight. These are typically done with dumbbells (one or two).You can also do cable machine versions of this.
- For glutes there’s a great exercise called a shoulder elevated hip lift. You can do it on 2 legs, on one, and can progress to adding weight.
- Stability ball leg curls are great for hamstrings. Or you can do a slideboard leg-curl to targets the glutes more than the hamstrings. If you don’t have a slideboard, there a couple of options: I have found that a krazy karpet works well – take your shoes off and do leg curls with socks only. Or you can pick up pieces of that material used under furniture to keep from scratching floors and put those under your shoes if you’re on hardwood.
- Another tip – when doing glute bridges, try doing it with the feet flat on the floor and concentrate on pushing your toes away from your body. If you do this, it takes your hamstrings out of the exercise and so makes it a better hit for the glutes.
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