Strengthen Your Hamstrings, Glutes, & Lower Back

If you want to strengthen the back of your bod (what trainers call the “posterior chain”), you can accomplish that several ways. You could do a series of exercises, such as Superman for lower back, Step-Ups for glutes, and Leg Curls for hamstrings. Or, you could target all of those muscles in just one move, done in two minutes a day!

By placing a ball between your calf and hamstrings on one leg and squeezing in, you’ll fire up the hamstrings muscles. Lifting your leg will get your glutes and lower back in on the action. Plus, your position on all 4s will make you feel supported through your core as you tone those hams, buns, and back.

The bigger the ball, the easier it will be to embrace. So, it’s a good idea to begin with a bouncy ball (like the ones you find in big metal racks at discount stores), then progress to something a tad smaller, like a Bender Ball, and eventually use something quite compact, like a SandBell. Although a smaller tool will work your hamstrings the best, stick with a bigger ball if the deeper flexion at your knee causes discomfort.

How to do Ball-Embraced Donkey Kicks:

Step 1: Assume “all 4s” position with your knees hips-width apart and hands planted directly beneath your shoulders. Place the ball behind your knee on one leg and squeeze in with your lower leg to hold it securely.

Step 2: Lift your thigh to the height that matches your torso (see Trainer Tip below). Stop the movement at this point, then slowly return the knee to the ground. This move should be performed with control: Take two full seconds to lift and two full seconds to lower.

Complete 15 repetitions on one leg before moving the ball to the other leg for 15 repetitions.

Trainer Tip: Lifting the thigh any higher than parallel to the ground may exceed your lower back strength and cause discomfort. Avoid excessive back hyperextension by stopping at torso height.