Beyoncé is female body goals, and often right up towards the top of the list of celebrity bodies our clients at Ultimate Performance would most like to emulate.  

Her strong legs and curvy bum get almost as much attention as her music.

“How do I get a curvy bum like Beyoncé?” is a question many of our female clients ask when they join up.

Whilst you may not naturally be blessed with her curves, you will be pleased to know that shapely legs and bum are attainable through the right training. 

Aside from the obvious aesthetic appeal of a great set of glutes and hamstrings, these muscles are also key players in running, walking and jumping, so training these muscles can improve speed, power and strength for sports performance too.  

Strong glutes are also key in helping to alleviate lower back pain so there’s more than a good reason to get training. 

Forget hours of cardio, the most effective way to get a great bum and killer legs is to strengthen the glutes and the hamstrings through weight training.

Why This Workout Works

Glutes

The glutes are formed of three muscles (the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus and gluteus medius) and to build a shapely behind you need to work all three from a variety of angles.  

Glute development is further optimised when the glutes are trained through a variety of different loads and rep ranges, so including both heavy load/low-rep work and lighter weight/high-rep work will produce the best results.

Squats/Leg Press

Squats are widely viewed as one of the primary builders of the lower body muscles.  Squat depth is key to getting the most out of the glutes and hamstrings as the deeper you go, the more the hamstrings and glutes are recruited so you should be squatting to parallel or lower for maximum effect.   

In addition to this, the longer you remain at the bottom, the more work the glutes and hamstring will be doing, so adding a pause here will work the muscles harder.  

Not everyone has the proportions to be able to squat deep, so you may need to raise your heels, use a wider foot placement or lower the weight to get the most out of your squat.  

The leg press follows the same movement pattern as the squat and allows you to safely and effectively overload the glutes and hamstrings. 

For maximum recruitment of these muscles, try taking a high and wide foot stance and pushing through the heels rather than the toes to activate the back of the legs as much as possible.

Deadlifts 

All deadlift variations target the glutes and hamstrings to some degree, with the Romanian deadlift being regarded as the best for effectively recruiting, isolating and overloading the hamstrings.  

For maximum impact focus on moving through your full range of motion and holding a deep hamstring stretch at the bottom, squeeze the glutes throughout the movement and hold the contraction at the top.

Split Squats and Lunges 

Whilst they are both great all-rounders in terms of lower body development, single-leg exercises are also an excellent way to target the glutes and hamstrings as they enable you to increase hip extension at the bottom of the movement (when the back knee is closest to the ground).  

The glutes are highly active throughout both exercises as they work to keep the hips stable. Further emphasis can also be placed on the glutes and hamstrings by leaning the torso forwards, holding the weight closer to the front knee and driving up through the heel.

Hip Thrusts 

Hip thrusts are highly effective at isolating the glutes and can be incorporated into your programme with both heavy and light loads (including bands) to train the different muscle fibres of the glutes.

The hip thrust is a great exercise for the glutes because it optimises hip extension, which is the main movement of the glutes.

When performing a hip thrust, take the hips through their full range of motion, squeeze the glutes hard and keep tension on the muscle throughout the set for maximum effect.

Pushing through the heels as you drive your hips up will also ensure you are activating the back of the legs.

Incline Hyper Extension 

The incline hyper extension is an effective exercise to target the glutes and hamstrings. To make this more glute focused, keep your back rounded and initiate the movement by squeezing the glutes as hard as possible.

Leg Curls 

Both seated and lying hamstring curls will target the hamstrings slightly differently, so incorporating both within your training schedule is advised.  Emphasis should be placed on contracting the hamstrings throughout the movement.

The Training Programme

We are all different and you may find certain exercises or variations of exercises work better for you than others, so finding what works best for your body may require a bit of trial and error.

To help you sculpt that perfect Beyoncé butt we have devised a glute and hamstring workout programme for you to try below.  

Aim to train glutes and hamstrings 2-3 times per week and alternate between Workouts A & B each time you train.

The Workouts

WORKOUT 1

How to Perform the Exercises

This guide is aimed at trainees with a good knowledge of the exercises and how to train safely and effectively. 

If you are unsure and want access to training programmes, nutrition information and over 250+ demonstration videos, sign up for LiveUP online coaching today or consult a qualified PT.

The Set-Up

  •  Stand up with your feet about hip-width apart.
  • The bar should be resting on your upper back above your shoulder blades.
  • Hold the bar on either side of your shoulders with your elbows pointing down.  Pull down on the bar to engage your back muscles and brace your core.  
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

 

The Movement

  • With your back straight and core engaged sit the hips back and bend your knees to lower down into the squat position.
  • Keeping the weight in the heels straighten the knees and drive the hips back to the starting position. 
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top of the squat then repeat.

 

Trainer Tips

  • Remove your shoes or wear lifting shoes when performing this exercise.
  • The set-up of a squat will vary significantly between individuals depending on your limb length and range of motion.  Finding the right set-up for you may take some trial and error and you may find it useful to enlist the help of a PT to check you are using correct form or video yourself from the side.
  • You should be aiming to squat to parallel or lower in order to fully engage the muscles of the lower body so you may need to play around with your set-up to get this right.
  •  Keep tension in the legs throughout the set by not locking out at the top of the squat.
  • Keep your bodyweight distributed evenly between both feet.
  •  Focus on keeping your knees out and don’t let them cave in.
  • Keep your abs engaged through the exercise and don’t let the back arch.

The Set-Up

  • Set up the bar in a rack at hand-level and add the desired amount of weight (start small and build up as your technique improves).
  • Stand close to the barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart and reach down to take the barbell with an overhand shoulder-width grip. 
  • Before taking the load, make sure to “take the slack out of the bar” by pulling away from the bar slightly to ensure your arms are taught. Lift the barbell off the hooks and take a step backwards.
  • Stand as tall as possible with your shoulder blades tucked into your back pockets. The barbell should be in contact with your thighs and there should be a soft bend in your knees. 
  • Look at the floor just in front of you or the barbell (this prevents the head from moving during the movement – we want zero movement in the spine throughout the exercise).
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

 

The Movement

  • Push your hips backwards and bend forward at the hips. The movement should come only from the hips and you should feel a noticeable increase in hamstring tension. 
  • Keep your back straight and pull the barbell into your body to prevent it from drifting away from you. Keep the lats tight by imagining you are trying to “protect your armpits”. 
  • Lower the barbell as far as possible until you reach the end of your range-of-motion. You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you can go no further without the lower back rounding or the knees moving. 
  • Pause for a moment in the bottom position and drive your hips forwards and squeeze your glutes to return to the start position. Make sure to “press” the weight upwards with the feet rather than yanking with the upper body.
  • Make sure to keep a solid brace throughout (see “How to Brace”). 
  • To begin, practise performing this exercise with control throughout. Once you have mastered the movement, you can add a more ‘explosive’ concentric movement (although this must still remain controlled).
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

 

Trainer Tips

  • Use lifting straps to prevent grip becoming a limiting factor. 
  • Practise the hinging motion before attempting this exercise.
  • Keep a solid brace throughout. 
  • Avoid over-arching at the top of the movement; your lower back muscles will be working but you should not feel them throughout the movement.

The Set-Up

  • Start by standing straight with a dumbbell in each hand.
  •  Your feet should be hip-width apart, your chest up, and your core engaged.

 

The Movement

  •  With one leg, take a big step forward and place the foot flat on the ground.
  •  Bend both knees and lower down under control until both your knees are bent at 90° and your front thigh is parallel to the floor.
  •  Push through the front foot and bring your back foot forwards stepping straight into another forward step.
  • Repeat on the other side.

 

Trainer Tips

  •  Keep your hips square and feet facing forwards throughout the movement.
  • To increase the emphasis on your glutes, lean the torso forward over the front leg and hold the dumbbells closer to the knee.
  • Keep the front heel down throughout the lunge.
  •  Regress the exercise by bringing the feet together between each rep rather than stepping straight into the next lunge.
  • Use straps to prevent grip from becoming a limiting factor when using dumbbells.
  • Make sure to keep the range of motion consistent throughout.

The Set-Up

  • Adjust the ankle pad so that it is just above the ankle joint. 
  • When you lie down on the machine, your knees should be just short of full extension (this set-up will vary between machines). 
  • Position yourself so that your knees line up with the machine pivot point.
  • Grip the handles, lift your chest up slightly and engage the lats by tucking your armpits down towards your hips. Point your toes up towards your shins.

 

The Movement

  • Push your thighs down into the and curl your legs up towards your buttocks. 
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when your knees are fully bent or you cannot move any further without your hips or thighs lifting off the pad. 
  • Pause for a moment and focus on contracting (squeezing) your hamstrings. 
  • Reverse the motion, under control, to return to the start position. 
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

 

Trainer Tips

  • Keep your abs braced to limit movement of the hips at the top of the movement. 
  • Avoid ‘swinging’ the weight; as your feet near your buttocks, the movement should be slowest as this is the shortest and weakest position. 
  • Keep the range-of-motion and tempo consistent throughout. 

The Set-Up

  • You may have access to either a 45-degree incline leg press or a horizontal leg press but the set-up is similar for both. 
  • Load the weight plates onto the machine or set the pin to the desired weight. 
  • Set the safety stop in the right position for your range-of-motion. 
  • Sit down on the machine and place your feet on the platform shoulder-width apart (a wider stance will favour more glutes/hamstrings but we want a quad-dominant focus here).
  • Position your feet at a level that is comfortable for your ankles (so that your feet remain in full contact with the foot plate at all times).
  • Grip the handles firmly and pull yourself down into the seat. 
  • Straighten your legs to take the weight off the racks.
  • Your knees should be slightly bent (not locked out).
  • This is the start and end position for each rep. 

 

The Movement

  • Start the movement by lowering your legs to bring your knees towards your chest. 
  • You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you cannot lower your legs any further without your heels lifting or buttocks lifting off the seat. 
  • Pause for a moment at the bottom position, keeping tension in your legs (do not let the weight “sink” into the hip joint at the bottom. 
  • Press both legs into the platform to return to the start position. Focus on pushing through the entire foot; the toes, ball of the foot and the heel equally.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

 

Trainer Tips

  • Keep your knees in line with your feet and do not allow your knees to “lock-out” at any point.
  • Practise keeping a rock-solid brace throughout. 
  • Only pause briefly at the top position between reps, not several seconds.

The Set-Up

  • Position a flat bench in an open space (or in a rack/cage) and secure it with something heavy to prevent it sliding forwards. 
  • Sit straight legged on the floor with your upper back resting against the bench. The edge of the bench should be just underneath your shoulder blades or bra line. If the bench is too high, it may be useful to place a plate underneath your buttocks to position you correctly.
  • You can perform this exercise with bodyweight only, use a single dumbbell or barbell for added resistance (if you’re a beginner, we advise progressing in this order). 
  • Make sure you’re using a hip pad or folded up matt over the hips and roll the barbell into position so it is situated directly over your pelvic bones (not over the abs or upper thighs). 
  • Tuck your feet in towards your buttocks and keep your feet roughly shoulder-width apart (a slight external rotation of the knee favours the abductor muscles).

 

The Movement

  • Drive your hips upwards towards the ceiling, pushing through your heels and squeezing your glutes. Keep your knees in line with your toes. 
  • In the top position, your hips should be fully extended and your torso parallel to the floor. 
  • Pause for a moment and focus on contracting your glutes (imagine you are trying to crack a walnut between them!), with a slight upwards rotation of the pelvis. 
  • Lower your hips down towards the floor. You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you cannot move any further without your lower back rounding or knees rocking backwards.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

 

Trainer Tips

  • If the bottom of your range-of-motion is higher than floor-level, place blocks or plates underneath the barbell plates to standardise the range-of-motion.
  • Keep a solid brace throughout and do not relax the tension at the top or bottom of the rep. 
  • Focus on ‘pivoting’ on and off the bench, do not allow your pelvis to rock backwards and forwards as this will strain the spinal erectors. 
  • Be careful not to overextend at the top of the movement and you should not feel this in the lower back. 
  • Keep the head in a neutral position by keeping your eyes on the bar pad at all times.

WORKOUT 2

How to Perform the Exercises

The Set-Up

  • Position a flat bench in an open space (or in a rack/cage) and secure it with something heavy to prevent it sliding forwards. 
  • Sit straight legged on the floor with your upper back resting against the bench. The edge of the bench should be just underneath your shoulder blades or bra line. If the bench is too high, it may be useful to place a plate underneath your buttocks to position you correctly.
  • You can perform this exercise with bodyweight only, use a single dumbbell or barbell for added resistance (if you’re a beginner, we advise progressing in this order). 
  • Make sure you’re using a hip pad or folded up matt over the hips and roll the barbell into position so it is situated directly over your pelvic bones (not over the abs or upper thighs). 
  • Tuck your feet in towards your buttocks and keep your feet roughly shoulder-width apart (a slight external rotation of the knee favours the abductor muscles).

 

The Movement

  • Drive your hips upwards towards the ceiling, pushing through your heels and squeezing your glutes. Keep your knees in line with your toes. 
  • In the top position, your hips should be fully extended and your torso parallel to the floor. 
  • Pause for a moment and focus on contracting your glutes (imagine you are trying to crack a walnut between them!), with a slight upwards rotation of the pelvis. 
  • Lower your hips down towards the floor. You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you cannot move any further without your lower back rounding or knees rocking backwards.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

 

Trainer Tips

  • If the bottom of your range-of-motion is higher than floor-level, place blocks or plates underneath the barbell plates to standardise the range-of-motion.
  • Keep a solid brace throughout and do not relax the tension at the top or bottom of the rep. 
  • Focus on ‘pivoting’ on and off the bench, do not allow your pelvis to rock backwards and forwards as this will strain the spinal erectors. 
  • Be careful not to overextend at the top of the movement and you should not feel this in the lower back. 
  • Keep the head in a neutral position by keeping your eyes on the bar pad at all times.

The Set-Up

  • Set up the bar in a rack at hand-level and add the desired amount of weight (start small and build up as your technique improves).
  • Stand close to the barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart and reach down to take the barbell with an overhand shoulder-width grip. 
  • Before taking the load, make sure to “take the slack out of the bar” by pulling away from the bar slightly to ensure your arms are taught. Lift the barbell off the hooks and take a step backwards.
  • Stand as tall as possible with your shoulder blades tucked into your back pockets. The barbell should be in contact with your thighs and there should be a soft bend in your knees. 
  • Look at the floor just in front of you or the barbell (this prevents the head from moving during the movement – we want zero movement in the spine throughout the exercise).
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

 

The Movement

  • Push your hips backwards and bend forward at the hips. The movement should come only from the hips and you should feel a noticeable increase in hamstring tension. 
  • Keep your back straight and pull the barbell into your body to prevent it from drifting away from you. Keep the lats tight by imagining you are trying to “protect your armpits”. 
  • Lower the barbell as far as possible until you reach the end of your range-of-motion. You have reached the end of your range-of-motion when you can go no further without the lower back rounding or the knees moving. 
  • Pause for a moment in the bottom position and drive your hips forwards and squeeze your glutes to return to the start position. Make sure to “press” the weight upwards with the feet rather than yanking with the upper body.
  • Make sure to keep a solid brace throughout (see “How to Brace”). 
  • To begin, practise performing this exercise with control throughout. Once you have mastered the movement, you can add a more ‘explosive’ concentric movement (although this must still remain controlled).
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

 

Trainer Tips

  • Use lifting straps to prevent grip becoming a limiting factor. 
  • Practise the hinging motion before attempting this exercise.
  • Keep a solid brace throughout. 
  • Avoid over-arching at the top of the movement; your lower back muscles will be working but you should not feel them throughout the movement.

The Set-Up

  • You will need a bench for this exercise.  Once located, stand with your back to away from the bench.
  • Place your hands on your hips and tuck your elbows in if using bodyweight. If using dumbbells, allow them to hang by your sides with the palms facing inwards. 
  •  Lift one leg up behind you and place it down on a bench, laces facing down.
  • Your hips should be square and remain square throughout the set.
  •  Your torso should up with your shoulders back and your abs engaged.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

 

The Movement

  • Drop your back knee down towards the floor and drive your front knee forward to close the gap between your hamstrings and calf (elevating the front heel with a wedge may allow a greater degree of motion if you do not have a great deal of ankle flexibility).
  • In the bottom position, your front foot should be flat and your back knee bent at 90 degrees and one to two inches above the floor. 
  • Pause for a moment at the bottom, keeping the upper body braced and tension in your legs. 
  • Push through the front leg to reverse the motion
  • Repeat all reps on one side before moving onto the other leg.

 

Trainer Tips

  • Start with your weaker leg forwards first and complete all reps on the one side before moving onto the other side to perform the same number of reps.
  • Have a short rest period (30-60 seconds) between legs to ensure you are getting the most out of each working leg.
  • The set-up of the bench will be determined by your height and range of motion, but you are aiming to get your back knee as close as possible to the floor.
  •  Pick a stride length that allows you to keep your front foot equally placed on the floor throughout the squat without the heel lifting. The back foot should not be so far back that you cannot fully flex the back leg or the hips do not remain square.
  •  Avoid locking out the knee at the top of the movement to keep tension in the working leg throughout the set.
  • To place even more emphasis on the glutes, lean the torso slightly forward over the front leg.
  • Use straps to prevent the grip from becoming a limiting factor when using dumbbells.
  • Make sure to keep the range of motion consistent throughout.

The Set-Up

  • Set up the machine so that the back pad sits comfortably against your lower back and your knees are in lines with the pivot.
  • Place your legs on the padded lever so it sits just below your calves.
  • Set up the upper pad so that it sits tightly on your thighs just above the knees.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

 

The Movement

  • Hold the handles, engage your core and slowly drive your heels back towards your hips.
  •  Pause for a second then slowly return to the start position under control.
  • That is one rep.

 

Trainer Tips

  •  Don’t rely on momentum and focus on contracting the hamstrings as hard as you can throughout the movement.
  •  Keep your torso braced and your lower back pressed against the back pad throughout the movement.
  • Don’t allow the weight plates to touch down between each rep, stop just above the plate stack to keep tension in the legs throughout the set.

The Set-Up

  • Set up the machine so that the hip pad rests just below your hip bone so that you can get into full hip extension.
  • Start in the prone position with your feet flat on the footpad and in front of the ankle pads.
  • Your thighs should be against the thigh pads and your legs should be straight but with soft knees.
  • If using weights, hold a plate across your chest or hold a dumbbell in each hand and let this hang beneath you.  If not using weight cross your arms over your chest.
  • Brace your abs.
  • Internally rotate your shoulders and deliberately round your upper back. 
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

 

The Movement

  • Keeping the knees soft, contract the glutes hard and drive your hips into the pad.
  • Keep squeezing the glutes as your upper body slowly lifts up. 
  • Your shoulders should be rounded with your eyes looking down.
  • Hold for a second when you get to the end of your range, your back should remain flexed throughout so the end of your range will be when you cannot get any higher without extending your spine.
  • Sit your hips back and slowly lower down to the start position under control.

 

Trainer Tips

  • You should feel most of the tension in your glutes and hamstring.  If you start to feel this in your lower back check your form and decrease your range of motion.
  • Your range of motion will vary depending on your individual mobility and flexibility. You may find it helpful to enlist the help of a PT or video yourself to determine your exact set-up and range of motion,
  • Be careful not to overextend the lower back as this can lead to injury.  Your core should be engaged throughout and keep the lower back rounded.
  • Initiate the movement by squeezing the glutes together. This should be the first bit that moves.
  • Your range of motion will vary depending on your individual mobility and flexibility.
  • Perform the movement slowly and carefully and don’t use momentum or jerk your torso.  

The Set-Up

  • Set up the wedges so that they are about hip-width apart and stand on the back of them so that your heels are slightly lifted off the floor.
  • Keep your chest up and core engaged.
  • With both hands, hold a dumbbell in front of your chest like a goblet using your palms under the actual weight rather than holding the handle.
  • This is the start and end position for each rep.

 

The Movement

  • Keeping the back straight and core engaged, sit the hips back and bend your knees to lower down into the squat position.  Allow your knees to track forward over the toes.
  • You should be aiming to squat to parallel or lower in order to fully engage the muscles of the lower body, so you may need to play around with your set up to get this right.
  •  Keeping the weight in the heels, straighten the knees and drive the hips back to the starting position and contract the glutes.
  • This is one rep.

 

Trainer Tips

  • The set-up of a squat will vary significantly between individuals depending on your leg proportions and range of motion.  Finding the right set up for you may take some trial and error so you may find it useful to enlist the help of a PT to check you are using correct form or video yourself from the side.
  •  Keep tension in the legs and glutes throughout the set by not locking out at the top of the squat.
  •  Keep your bodyweight distributed evenly between both feet
  • Focus on keeping your knees pushed out so they are tracking over the front toe.
  • Maintain a proper brace throughout and don’t let the back arch.
  • Make sure to keep the range of motion consistent throughout.

Burning Off the Fat

So now you have a starting point for your journey to stronger glutes and hamstring, the likelihood is you may want to lose some of the body fat that is covering them up.  

Sprints are a great way to help speed up that fat-burning process, whilst providing a different type of challenge for the glutes and hamstrings. So try including some form of sprint training in your cardio workouts and, as always with any training plan, your diet will also have a part to play here.

Hopefully this should help you sculpt the perfect glutes… now it’s time to get practising that famous Beyoncé twerk.

By Rebecca Scott

 

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