Before you run out and hit the gym, understand the type of volume and intensity of weight training that’s designed to tone your hamstrings and glutes. Depending on the weight you use and how many sets and repetitions you complete, you could be training your hamstrings and glutes to either build size or strength.
To tone, do your hamstring and glute workout twice a week with two days of rest in between each of your workouts. Start out with three sets of each exercise and then bump it up to four sets after a few weeks. Each of the sets should consist of eight to 12 repetitions. So perform eight to 12 repetitions, rest about a minute, and then go right into the second set. You want your hamstrings and glutes to be exhausted at the end of the workout.
To target those hamstrings at the back of your thighs, incorporate straight-leg deadlifts and lying leg curl into your workouts. Both of these requires your hamstrings to handle most of the work. For straight-leg deadlifts, you’ll hold a barbell down in front of your thighs and then bend forward at the waist while keeping your knees and back straight. When your back is parallel to the ground, rise back up. Lying leg curl requires you to find a leg curl machine at the gym. Set yourself up so that your knee joints are right in line with the axis of the machine and then bend your knees. Your calves will push against the leg pads so that your feet come up toward your butt.
For your backside, you’ll want to fit in both squats and lunges into your workout. While these require your quadriceps and calves to help out, your glutes have to work the hardest. For squats, pick up either a pair of dumbbells to hold at your shoulders and put a weighted barbell on the back of your shoulders. Push your butt back and bend your knees to drop into the squat. Go as far as you can up until your thighs are parallel to the ground and then rise back up. To do lunges, with either a pair of dumbbells or a barbell used as weight, take a big step and then from this staggered stance, bend your front knee so that your back one lowers to the floor. Come up out of the lunge and bring your lead foot back to line up with your back one and then repeat on the opposite leg.
Use a weight that’s going to challenge your muscles to perform eight to 12 repetitions. Just because you follow the training rules for toning and complete eight to 12 repetitions in each set doesn’t mean you’ll see improvements if you use too light of a weight. Your hamstrings and glutes should be able to reach close to 12 repetitions, and it should be difficult. If you can’t reach eight repetitions, go ahead and lighten up the weight you’re using, but if you can knock out 12 without any problem, you need to use a heavier weight if you really want to see changes in tone.
- Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images