In my experience, I’ve found that most people tend to be very quad (front of the thigh) dominant. This means that during exercises like squats, lunges, etc., their quads do a huge majority of the work, and their hamstrings and glutes do very little. When you take into consideration the fact that most people spend a great deal of time running to lose weight, and the fact that running is an incredibly quad dominant movement, the gap between quad and hamstring/glute strength gets even wider. This is a recipe for disaster, and the very reason that so many runners experience knee pain.
I’ve gone into detail before as to how I help people begin to use their glutes and hamstrings more in exercises, so I wont go into detail on that. Instead, I want to give you a simple, yet effective exercise that really targets the hamstrings and glutes. The great thing about it is that it can literally be done anywhere, you only need your body.
Here’s what it looks like:
-Begin with a tall chest and your shoulder blades tucked down. I tell my clients to tuck their shoulder blades into their back pockets. This helps keep the chest up and the back tight.
-Keeping one leg slightly bent, begin to lean over. Don’t excessively bend the knee of the leg that’s on the ground and think of hinging at the hips, not rounding your back.
-Keep your torso and the leg that extends backwards in a straight line. Think of them like a piece of wood. They move together, not independently.
-Once your torso and back leg are parallel with the ground, drive your heel into the ground and think of squeezing your butt as tight as you can as you pull yourself up. Your torso and back leg should come up together. One shouldn’t move quicker than the other.
-Don’t arch your back on the way up. Again, think of moving through the hips, not the back.
-Make sure you come to a fully upright position before you place your back leg on the ground, and squeeze your butt tight at the top of the movement.
Some people have issues with balance with this movement at first. I’m OK with people placing one hand on a wall for support, as long as they don’t get any push off with the hand. Keep all your weight on the heel of the foot that’s on the ground and all the work in the leg that’s down.
I usually prescribe 3-4 sets of 8 reps per leg.
Try them out and let me know what you think!