Kristi O’Connell is a fitness enthusiast and personal trainer who has always been passionate about building strength and muscle in her lower body. For years, she has put in the hard work and dedication to grow her glutes and hamstrings, and now she is sharing her top six exercises for achieving incredible results in these areas.
One of Kristi’s go-to exercises for building her glutes and hamstrings is the deadlift. This compound movement targets multiple muscle groups, including the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Kristi recommends starting with a lighter weight and focusing on perfecting your form before gradually increasing the load. Proper technique is essential to avoid injury and get the most out of the exercise.
To perform a deadlift, stand with your feet hip-width apart and grab the barbell with an overhand grip, keeping your arms straight. Hinge at the hips and bend your knees slightly, keeping your back flat and chest up. Engage your glutes and hamstrings as you lift the barbell off the ground, pushing your hips forward at the top of the movement. Lower the barbell back down with control, keeping your back straight throughout the entire range of motion.
2. Romanian Deadlifts
In addition to traditional deadlifts, Kristi incorporates Romanian deadlifts into her routine to specifically target her hamstrings. This variation involves a greater emphasis on the hamstrings and less on the lower back, making it a valuable addition to any lower body workout.
To perform a Romanian deadlift, stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a barbell in front of your thighs with an overhand grip. Hinge at the hips and lower the barbell toward the floor, keeping your back flat and chest up. Lower the barbell as far as your flexibility allows, feeling a stretch in your hamstrings. Engage your hamstrings and glutes as you return to a standing position, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
3. Hip Thrusts
For maximum glute activation, Kristi swears by hip thrusts. This exercise targets the glutes and can be performed using a barbell, resistance band, or just body weight. Kristi recommends starting with body weight and gradually adding weight as you become more advanced.
To perform a hip thrust, sit on the ground with your upper back against a bench and a barbell across your lap. Place your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart, and engage your core. Press through your heels and lift your hips toward the ceiling, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement. Lower your hips back down with control, keeping tension in your glutes throughout the entire exercise.
4. Bulgarian Split Squats
To further develop her glutes and hamstrings, Kristi incorporates unilateral exercises such as Bulgarian split squats into her routine. This exercise challenges each leg individually, helping to build strength and stability in the lower body.
To perform a Bulgarian split squat, stand facing away from a bench or sturdy surface with your back foot elevated on the bench. Lower your body down into a lunge position, keeping your front knee in line with your toes and your back knee hovering just above the ground. Press through your front heel and return to a standing position, engaging your glutes and hamstrings. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions before switching to the other leg.
5. Cable Pull-Throughs
For a targeted glute and hamstring exercise, Kristi incorporates cable pull-throughs into her routine. This movement activates the posterior chain and provides a great alternative to traditional hip thrusts and deadlifts.
To perform cable pull-throughs, attach a rope to a low cable pulley and stand facing away from the machine with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab the rope and step forward, allowing the cable to pull between your legs. Hinge at the hips and bend your knees slightly, keeping your back flat and chest up. Push your hips forward and return to a standing position, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement. Lower the rope back down with control, feeling the stretch in your hamstrings as you hinge forward.
6. Glute Bridges
Finally, Kristi incorporates glute bridges into her lower body workouts to further activate her glutes and hamstrings. This bodyweight exercise is a great way to isolate and strengthen the glutes, helping to achieve a strong and shapely lower body.
To perform a glute bridge, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Press through your heels and lift your hips toward the ceiling, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement. Lower your hips back down with control and repeat for the desired number of repetitions. For added resistance, you can place a resistance band above your knees to further engage the glutes.
Incorporating these six exercises into her training regimen has helped Kristi O’Connell achieve incredible growth and strength in her glutes and hamstrings. By focusing on compound movements, unilateral exercises, and targeted glute activation, she has been able to sculpt a strong and shapely lower body. Whether you are a beginner or experienced athlete, incorporating these exercises into your routine can help you achieve similar results and build a strong foundation in your lower body. With consistency and dedication, you too can grow your glutes and hamstrings and achieve the physique you desire.