13 Exercises to Tighten and Tone Your Glutes and Hamstrings

7 Exercises to Tighten and Tone Your Glutes and Hamstrings

Having a tight and firm backside is something every woman strives for. After all, a tight backside means skinny jeans fit better, the legs are stronger, and the body feels energized throughout the day. Tightening and toning the glutes and hamstrings are easy to perform and can be accomplished in little time with a dedicated routine. This article discusses how a simple set of exercises grouped together can tone and strengthen the glutes and hamstrings. Follow the exercises listed below and experience a tough workout which will leave your leg muscles tight and toned.

13 Best Exercises for Toned Hamstrings and Glutes

  1. Interval Jogging: One of the most effective ways to tighten and tone the hamstrings and glutes is to run. Running directly works these specific areas and every time the foot lands on the ground, the hamstrings and glutes contract to extend the leg behind the body.  Moreover, while performing this type of cardio, fat is being used and shred throughout the body to lean the figure, thus increasing the shaping effectiveness.  Your intervals should consist of a 1:1 ration, meaning four minutes of faster-paced running followed by four minutes of a walk as an active recovery. Keep with these intervals for a total of four sets to have a 32 minute cardio portion of your workout.
  2. Back Squats: Squats are an extremely effective back of legs workout exercise, which helps tighten and tone the glutes and hamstrings. The back squat requires a barbell and some weights and you should learn proper technique and form with a trainer prior to adding weight. Aim to perform three sets of 12 if you are looking to tone and add muscular endurance in your hamstrings and glutes. If you want to add definition and strength in the glutes especially, try performing three sets of 12, 10, and 8 reps with increasing weight each time. The final two reps on each set should be challenging, but this is where the hamstrings and glutes benefit the most. There should be at least 60 seconds of rest between sets, but do not exceed 90 seconds.
  3. Bulgarian Split Squats: If you’re looking for effective exercises for the back of your legs, then bulgarian split squats are your way to go. This single-leg exercise provides an excellent challenge for the glutes and hamstrings. Stand a few feet away from a bench with one foot elevated behind you. Lower your body into a lunge position, ensuring your front knee is directly above your ankle. Push through the front heel to return to the starting position.
  4. Lunges: The lunge is similar to the squat, but there is an added balance aspect added to the workout. An alternating lunge will shape, tone, and firm the hamstrings and glutes and will also have the added benefit of toning the hips, quads, and core. For added benefits in these areas, add a barbell on the shoulders or hold a dumbbell at each side. With the added weight (not too heavy), aim to perform three sets of 15 lunges each leg. If the lunges are too challenging, reduce your weight until you can reasonably perform three sets of 15. Be sure to rest at least 60 seconds between sets.
  5. Hip Bridges: The hip bridge can be performed in many varying ways, but the standard hip bridge is beneficial for increasing glute and hamstring strength. In addition to glute and hamstring toning, the core is greatly worked, making the bridge one of the most efficient workouts for this area of the body. Aim to perform three sets of 20 hip bridges and rest 60 seconds between sets.
  6. Hamstring Curls: The hamstring curl is a basic exercise specific for the upper portion of the hamstrings, which can add some serious definition in the glute area as well. A designated leg curl machine is recommended if you plan to add this exercise to your back thigh workouts. Aim to perform three sets of 12 for muscular endurance. For strength gains and definition, attempt three sets of 12, 10, and 8 reps and be sure to rest 60-90 seconds between sets.
  7. Good Mornings: Good mornings are one of the best upper hamstring exercises that also targets the lower back and glutes. Stand with a barbell across your upper back, hinge at the hips while keeping your back straight, and lower your torso forward. Return to the upright position by engaging your glutes and hamstrings.
  8. Kettlebell Swings: The kettlebell swing is gaining popularity in the gym due to its aerobic and anaerobic conditioning benefits. The kettlebell swing involved a squat movement combined with a front shoulder raise. When performed correctly, the kettlebell swing works the entire body including the glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, shoulders, trapezius, and forearms, making this exercise an energy burning machine. Start with a light kettlebell until you are comfortable with the form. If your form is good, progress with slightly more weight and adjust the reps until you feel a challenge with the last few reps. Aim for three sets of 15 kettlebell swings and rest 60 seconds between sets.
  9. Deadlifts: Deadlifts are another powerhouse exercise that targets the glutes and hamstrings while also engaging the lower back and core. There are various deadlift variations, including conventional, sumo, and Romanian deadlifts. Conventional deadlifts involve lifting a barbell from the ground with a shoulder-width stance, while sumo deadlifts use a wider stance. Romanian deadlifts emphasize the eccentric phase, involving a hip hinge with a slight bend in the knees. Incorporating deadlifts into your routine helps build strength and definition in the posterior chain.
  10. Step-Ups: Step-ups are a functional exercise that engages the glutes and hamstrings while also challenging balance and stability. Use a sturdy bench or step, placing one foot on top of it. Push through the heel of the elevated foot to lift your body up onto the step. Lower back down with control. Repeat on the same leg for a set before switching to the other leg. Adding dumbbells or a barbell increases the intensity. Step-ups effectively target the glutes and hamstrings while promoting single-leg strength.
  11. Cable Pull-Throughs: Cable pull-throughs are another effective cable machine exercise that targets the glutes and hamstrings. Set the cable at the lowest position, grasp the rope attachment between your legs, and stand facing away from the machine. Hinge at the hips, keeping a slight bend in your knees, and pull the rope through your legs by extending your hips. This movement places a significant emphasis on the glutes while also engaging the hamstrings. Focus on the mind-muscle connection to maximize the effectiveness of cable pull-throughs.
  12. Box Jumps: Incorporating plyometric exercises like box jumps into your upper hamstring workout will add an explosive element to lower body training. Box jumps engage the glutes and hamstrings as you explosively jump onto a box or platform. Start with a lower height and gradually increase as your strength and power improve. Ensure proper landing mechanics by landing softly with a slight bend in the knees. Plyometric exercises like box jumps not only tighten and tone the glutes and hamstrings but also enhance overall athletic performance.
  13. Resistance Band Exercises: Resistance bands are versatile tools that can add resistance to various lower body exercises, intensifying the challenge and promoting muscular endurance. Band walks, where you step laterally against the resistance of the band, effectively target the glutes. Place a band above your knees for squats or lunges to increase activation in the glutes and hamstrings. The constant tension provided by resistance bands enhances muscle engagement throughout the entire range of motion.

Opt for a Healthy Diet for Optimal Glute Muscle Growth

While incorporating effective exercises into your routine is crucial for sculpting and toning your glutes and hamstrings, the importance of nutrition cannot be overstated. A healthy diet plays a pivotal role in supporting muscle growth and overall fitness. To fuel your body for optimal performance and recovery, prioritize a well-balanced diet rich in protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Protein, in particular, is essential for muscle repair and growth. Include lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, tofu, and legumes in your meals. Complex carbohydrates provide the energy needed for intense workouts, while healthy fats support hormone production and joint health.

For personalized guidance on nutrition tailored to your specific needs and fitness goals, consider consulting with a fitness specialist or a registered dietitian. They can assess your individual requirements, taking into account factors such as activity level, metabolic rate, and dietary preferences, to create a customized diet plan that complements your glute and hamstring training regimen, fostering optimal muscle growth and overall well-being.

The Bottom Line

Achieving tight and toned glutes and hamstrings involves a combination of compound movements, isolation exercises, and targeted training strategies. Incorporate a variety of exercises into your routine to ensure comprehensive development of the posterior chain. Whether you prefer bodyweight exercises, free weights, or machines, the key is to maintain consistency and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. 

As with any fitness journey, it’s essential to listen to your body, practice proper form, and progress at a pace that suits your individual fitness level. Remember, results take time, so stay committed and enjoy the journey to a fitter, healthier you.

About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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