Strength Training for Your Glutes and Hamstrings

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hamstring-exercisesMaintaining a strength training program during your training routine can make the difference between a series of strong runs and nursing an injury.  We may be tempted to view our short runs as an opportunity to get in a workout, however taking the time to add a few strength training exercises to  your shorter days will benefit your training immensely.

Apply these effective exercises to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings that will keep you injury free and improve your running performance.

Strengthen Your Glutes to Avoid Injury

It is incredibly important to train your legs and hips, even if you are running regularly. The major muscles you want to target are your gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings.

Gluteus Medius

The gluteus medius is a hip stabilizer that doesn’t get used in running, and is frequently weak in runners. This can lead to a variety of problems such as IT band syndrome and hip bursitis.

Gluteus Medius Exercises: A great way to train these is by doing side leg lifts or clamshells.

Gluteus Maximus

Your gluteus maximus should be used in running, but many runners underuse it and overuse their quads and hip flexors. While that can be corrected by improving your form, strengthening those muscles will make them less likely to make your quads do all the work.


Strengthening your hamstrings is also important to keep your leg strength balanced. Many athletes have very strong quads but relatively weak hamstrings, which can increase the risk of knee injury and patellofemoral pain syndrome (“runner’s knee”).

Gluteus Maximus and Hamstring Exercises: A great exercise to target both muscles is hamstring curls on a swiss ball or bridges. For an extra challenge, try either of these exercises with just one leg. Not only will the working leg get an extra workout, you’ll also work your hip and pelvic stabilizers (such as your gluteus medius).

I recommend doing these exercises 2-3 times per week. The best time to do it is right after a run and at least 24-48 hours before another hard effort.

Dawn Dolobowsky, CSCS, Triathlon Coach, Running at Dawn

Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls

Check out this video by Ridgline Fitness to learn how to perform this effective hamstring exercise.

What are your favorite strength training exercises to train your glutes and hamstrings?

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    • amypowell March 24, 2012 Reply

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