Strong Exercises for the Hamstrings & Gluteus Maximus

by Lynda Schwartz, Demand Media
    A shapely gluteus maximius and tight hamstrings do more than look good.

    A shapely gluteus maximius and tight hamstrings do more than look good.

    The hamstrings and gluteus maximus have a greater function than toning your legs and giving your butt definition. They work in conjunction to stop forward movement, keep your spine in proper alignment and the gluteus maximus increases your speed. Both are neglected posterior muscles that do not receive attention during a normal workout routine. This can injure the assister muscles relying on the gluteus maximus and hamstring, which aid in speed reduction. Increasing your attention to flexing and building both muscles will increase your speed while reducing injury.

    Hamstring

    Three muscles form the hamstring and stretch from the hip to the knee joint. The semitendinosus muscle sits toward the inside of your leg and resides next to the biceps femoris. Both muscles cover the semimembranosus. All three muscles work in unison to bend the knee backward and allow the upper leg to rotate backward from the hip. An under-worked hamstring can become tight and the fibers of the muscles could tear, causing severe pain and limited backward movement in the leg.

    Gluteus Maximus

    Another collection of muscles, the buttocks, contain three muscles that do more than attract attention when they are well-developed. They allow the thigh to pivot at the hip, while the gluteus maximus -- the largest of the three muscles – allows you to walk upright as it supports the trunk of your body. Strengthening the glutes reduces the chances of a hamstring injury, as a strong butt lessens the work performed by the hamstring when you are decelerating or rotating your hip away from your body.

    Exercise the Hamstring

    Extension and plyometric exercise place a lot of focus on the hamstring muscles. Extension exercises including leg extensions, leg raises and 90-degree hamstring stretches work to increase the length and flexibility of the hamstring. Plyometric exercises like box jumping, power jumps and power squats work at strengthening the hamstring without the use of exercise machines or free-weights. Adding machine exercises or weight exercises to your hamstring workout will add additional strength to the muscle group.

    Tone the Gluteus Maximus

    The exercises designed to strengthen and tone your glutes without machines or weights include lunges, step-ups and hip extensions. Performing the exercises with weight increases their effectiveness, but can lead to a butt that is larger than desired. Stretching exercises help elongate the muscle and decrease the chances of injuring the muscle group during strenuous activities.

    About the Author

    Lynda Schwartz is a fitness professional who began writing in 2004. She has contributed to "Women's Day" and "Good Housekeeping" magazines, as well as covered fitness and well-being for online publications. Schwartz holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and health promotion.

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