The balancing act – Quads vs Hamstrings & Glutes


By Chontell Randles– Senior Group Exercise Instructor & Personal Trainer, Fitness First Golden Mile

It is common for women to have stronger quadriceps than hamstrings. Not to say the hamstrings should be stronger. The quads definitely should be, so don’t stop training them but take into consideration that they are activated every time we stand up, sit down or walk.

The ideal quad to hamstring ratio is 3:2 but when this ratio is out by too much there is risk of both hamstring and knee injuries – just to name a few. More importantly, having weaker hamstrings and glutes can also cause the dreaded flat-bottom syndrome (now do I have the attention of all the Kim Kardashian fans out there?) By training your hamstrings and glutes, these imbalances can be fixed.

Making sure you are focusing on the weakest parts of the legs twice a week, you will increase the strength and symmetry to match your quads. This will fix imbalances, build a strong glutes and will give you more defined legs.
Most woman shy away from heavy weights as they have this conception that heavy equals bulky but this is so far from the truth!

Most woman gravitate towards endless sets and reps, and although this has its benefits, heavier loads with fewer reps should also be included into workouts as muscles will not change unless challenged, what does this mean? It means muscles won’t change unless you give them reason to. Contrary to what you may have heard and what most woman think, healthy muscle mass requires more energy to help with recovery, therefore burning more calories which can lead to fat loss (you want this!).

6 Exercises to assist in balancing out the Hamstrings and Glutes with 2 of my favourite Quad exercises

Leg Curls – 3-4 Sets 10 Reps (Heavy)

  •  Adjust the machine to your comfort
  • Ensure movement is from the knees only
  • Curl heels towards you with full range of motion
  •  Maintain controlled tension through the movement

Stability Ball Curls – 3-4 Sets 15-20 Reps

  •  Lying on your back on the floor
  •  Hands out to the side for stability
  •  Brace your core and dig your heels into the stability ball
  •  Lift up into a bridge position and curl your feet towards
    your glutes keeping the hips up
  • Straighten and repeat

Glute Kickbacks on the Smith Machine – 3-4 Sets 10-15 Reps (Heavy)

  •  On all fours, place one foot on the bar and kick the leg up and back
  • Keep core braced so as to not arch the back
  •  Drive legs up until you feel maximum contraction into the glutes

Weighted Frog Hip Thrusts – 3-5 Sets 10-15 Reps (Heavy)

  •  Lying on your back, bend your knees and place souls of your feet together
  •  Holding the weight on your hips, engage your glutes and thrust your hips up so that your body forms a straight line
  •  Slowly lower and repeat

Sumo Deadlifts – 3-5 Sets – 10-15 Reps (Heavy)

  •  Wide stance on the bar
  • With feet and knees turned out in a wide stance
  •  Hands shoulder width apart using a mixed or pronated grip
  •  Lifting the chest and looking forward
  • Dig the heels in while bracing the core
  •  Extend through the hips and knees
  •  Return the bar to ground controlling the weight on the way down

Single leg OverHead Reverse lunges – 3-5 Sets – 10-15 Reps (Heavy)

  •  Standing on a raised platform (weight plate)
  •  Extend weight overhead, locking out the arms
  •  Brace the core and step back into a lunge driving the knee to floor
  •  Repeat on the other side.

Leg Extension – 3-4 Sets – 10-15 Reps (Heavy)

  • Adjust the machine for your height
  •  Keep your back against the bench grab onto the handles and just an extension from the knees
  •  Extend the legs fully, holding for a second squeezing the quad and lowering slowly.

Hack Squat variation on the Smith machine – 3-4 Sets – 10-15 Reps (Heavy)

  • Load the bar with weight, facing outwards
  • Legs shoulder width apart slightly forward
  • Drop into a deep squat allowing knees to push forward
  • Lowering the glutes to the heel, dig the heels in brace the core and return to standing