Glute and Hamstring Activation for Sprinting, Jumping, Lifting and Kicking

By Brandon Richey

When it comes to strength and performance the warm up, or movement preparation that you do at the beginning of your training session can make all the difference in the world in how you perform.

If your body isn’t ready and you start into your training and pull a muscle, you can be set back for weeks.

This is totally avoidable, and today’s article will not only help you to avoid this, but will also demonstrate how proper glute and hamstring activation will ease you into your more intense training and you will be stronger for it!

Paying attention to glute and hamstring health through warm-ups will not only better prepare you for heavy lifting and/or plyometric movements, you’ll create a stronger foundation for injury avoidance and advanced, more intense training.

Much of your strength and performance output comes from your posterior chain (muscles of the back of your body) especially when talking about how well you can sprint, jump, or throw a kick. This is also the case if your trying to hit a new deadlift PR in the weight room.

A strong posterior chain is crucial for performance and day to day function. With that being said this is why it’s crucial for you to get these muscles properly firing as you steadily ease into your more intense training. This is why I’ve included three significant exercises to help you get those posterior muscles firing strong and I guarantee you’ll notice as you get into your more intense training as well.

Frankenstein/Toy Soldier Marches

The names can be used interchangeably here, but the point is these marches mimic the march, or stiff walk of the monster of Frankenstein, as well as that of a toy soldier. With these marches you want to perform them prior to getting into sprint work, or even more ballistic strength work such as kettlebell swings, or box jumps.

Obviously this is more of a dynamic stretch and this move will absolutely get your glutes, hamstrings, and nervous system firing prior to more intense training involving sprinting, jumping, and kicking.

A few things to pay attention to:

-Keep your hips square and try not to to open them to where your body/torso turns in the opposite direction of the kicking leg.

-Alternate the kicks/marches

-Keep your kicking leg straight and your foot flexed, toes pointing towards the sky (imagine pulling your foot up as if you’re letting it off the gas pedal when driving).

-Perform 10 to 15 kicks on each leg as a warm up.

Hamstring Walking Stretch

This particular movement will absolutely help you to activate the glutes and hamstrings getting them into the eccentric portion of the contraction.

This will get the blood flowing and the muscle ready for intense training without restriction, or inhibition that could result in a muscle pull from something more intense.

Even though this stretch is also dynamic there are brief moments of a good static stretch.

This stretch relax combination really gets the muscle more elastic and ready for movement.

A few things to pay attention to:

-Keep the hips square and sit your weight back on the leg that is not being stretched.

-Keep the knee of the stretched leg straight and that same ankle activated with your toes pointing to the sky.

-As you perform the walk take a step and plant the heel of the leg going to be stretched into the ground. As you come out of the stretch take another step and do the same thing in order to stretch the same leg again.

-Perform 10 to 15 walking stretches on each leg as a warm up.

Lying Hip Thrust

This movement is a great way to get your glutes firing and to wake them up while simultaneously stretching your hip flexors. This is also a great drill for getting your glutes and hips ready for more intense lifts such as deadlifts and squats.

The lying hip thrust may look simple, but this is a move that I’ve typically shocked people with in terms of exposing how tight their hip flexors tend to be along with showing them how asleep their glutes may be during this unique movement.

A few things to pay attention to:

-Lie on your back and pull your heels close to your hips.

-Make sure that your lumbar spine (low back) is firmly pressed into the floor and that is the first part of your body to touch the ground after every repetition. There should be no space between your low back and the floor.

-Pause and squeeze your glute muscles tight at the peak of the movement when your hips are off of the ground.

-Perform 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps as a warm up.

The Takeaway

Just remember that prior to more intense sprinting, lifting, and running you want to invest the time to get your glutes and hamstrings ready. Your posterior muscles are the engine for your sports, fighting, and tactical performance.

These muscles are your powerhouse and you can’t ignore giving them the necessary attention if you expect to get optimal results from your strength and conditioning program no matter your goals.


Written by Brandon Richey, SGPT coach Brandon Richey , the 120-Day Training Plan to Build Powerful Functional Fitness is designed to transform your body and mind for the rest of your life.


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QUESTION: Coach, I’m getting a lot better with my fitness overall, but I’m still struggling with pull-ups. Do you have any tips? ANSWER: Check out this article: 10 Tips to Improve Your Pull-ups.

QUESTION: Coach, I want to turn the other half of my garage into a gym but I’m not sure where to get started. Got any ideas? ANSWER: Check out our article on Top 10 Garage Gym Ideas. 




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