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Muscle Growth | Hamstrings and Glutes

Andy Griffiths
Writer and expert7 years ago
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Written by Ben Wellburn

Muscle Growth

Hamstrings and glutes; the most overly used, under trained muscles in the body. These two brilliant muscles are used in virtually every movement you can think of including, walking, lifting, jumping and running. The glutes and hamstrings are in action to stabilise the body, to stop you falling over and even bending/stretching.

hamstring curl

The hamstrings control the movement within your hips and knees. Whilst working together as a group, they can move your hips both forward and backward. They also aid the rotation of the thighs. Whilst stood up but not moving, the hamstrings keep you stable and upright.


Comparatively, the gluteal muscles control a range of motions, including the extension, abduction and internal/external rotation of the hip joints. Also, the gluteus maximus specifically aids in knee extension.


These two muscles support the body in so many movements, but they are vastly under-powered and generally under-trained. Back in the days when our ancestors walked barefoot, they would have very strong gluteal muscles, because those muscles were activated when moving, and they would sit in a latrine squat when eating, talking and whilst using the equivalent of a toilet.


Nowadays, most people adopt a swayback posture which minimises the activation of the glutes, leaving them vastly under-developed. So how do we grow these muscles that have so much potential? From person to person it varies, but muscle growth (hypertrophy) generally occurs between 8-10 reps, for 3-5 sets. Working on these principles, here is a basic guide on how to get them up to grade.


The Hamstring 

#1 Low Bar Squat

Place the bar so that it sits in the shelf formed between the contracted posterior deltoids and spines of the scapulae, lean forward so that the weight is central and squat down.

#2 Lunges

Take one foot and stride forward, keep the weight on the front leg, then press up through it and return to starting position.

#3 Split Squats

Take one foot and stride forward into the lunge position, allow yourself to go down toward the floor, then press yourself so that you raise back into the original lunge position.

#4 Heel Drags

This can be done in various ways, the easiest being in a wheeled chair. Straighten your legs whilst maintaining contact with the floor, and drag yourself forward via the heel. If done without wheels, pull your heel toward your bum.

#5 Hamstring Thrusts

Similar to a glute thrust, though you have your feet positioned further away from your body.

#6 Rotational Lunges

Complete the normal lunge motion, but rotate your upper body to one side of you.

#7 Throw Down Lunges

Hold a light weight in your hands, and as you step into a lunge, act as if you are going to throw the weight at the floor (don’t let go of it!!). This will exert a higher pressure through the hamstrings.

#8 Nordic Hamstrings

Ask a friend to grab hold of your feet whilst you are on all 4’s, then sit back onto your knees. Then whilst keeping your upper body straight, lean from the knees forward so that you move toward the ground.

#9 Good Mornings

Stand with both legs next to one another, then lean from the hips with a straight back. This can also be done with single legs.


walking barbell lunge

The Gluteal

#1 Squat (and variations)

Complete the normal squat technique, however try and move into the end range at the bottom of the squat whilst using a light weight.

#2 Glute Bridges

Lay flat on your back, feet 30 cm from your bum and your feet shoulder width apart. Then, tense your glutes and then lift into the air. Hold for 30 seconds.

#3 Hip Thrust

Hip thrusters are carried out with the same technique as glute bridges, however instead of holding the angle, you instead lift yourself off the floor and then go back to the starting position.

#4 Single Leg Hip Thrust

This is the same as a normal hip thrust, however one leg is not on the floor.

#5 Deadlift

Carry out a deadlift with normal technique.

#6 Cable Kick Backs

Attach the cable to a foot, face the machine, then whilst tightening the glutes, kick your foot backward away from the machine (mind anyone behind you!).


overhead squat

Most exercises above will work both the glutes and hamstrings at the same time. For that reason, I would suggest only starting off with three or four exercises from each muscle to start with. More could overly-work the muscles and cause straining.

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Andy Griffiths
Writer and expert
View Andy Griffiths's profile
Andy's journey in fitness started during his studies at Leeds Becket University in 2003, working in the university campus gym, he got a taste for a life in fitness. In the past 17 years, he has developed through various roles and has built a detailed experience in developing one-to-one clients, fellow team members and group fitness programmes in mainstream and boutique facilities. Training endurance athletes, martial arts athletes and simply those wanting to build a healthier life, he has built some great experiences and is now in a fantastic position to share what he has learnt with you. Being able to engage beginners into exercise regimes he feels is essential but has the ability and experience to adapt training techniques for those more experienced so everyone learns something new. He strongly feels that if you believe you are capable, you commit to achieving your goals that you will be successful!