6 Best Hip Dominant Exercises to Build Glutes/Hamstrings

Legs 4 min Read

Written by

Keith Hansen

Hip dominant exercises are those that target the glutes and hamstrings.

You could also think of hip dominant exercises as lower pulling. But it’s usually best to refer to these exercises as hip dominant. It isn’t always as easy to decide if a lower body exercise is pushing or pulling.

Hip dominant exercises are a critical part of developing your lower body and will cause tremendous growth in the posterior chain.


Primary movers are the muscle groups in an exercise that produce the majority of the force. They will also grow the most and build strength.

Hip dominant exercises consist of three primary movers:

  • the hamstrings
  • the glutes
  • the low back

The tricky part is that different hip dominant exercises will activate these muscles to different degrees.

I’ll outline in each section which muscles the move hits really well.

1. Deadlifts

Deadlifts are the ultimate hip dominant exercise.

Use them to build full body strength that has an incredible carryover to life outside the gym.

Deadlifts hit the hamstrings, glutes, and spinal erectors (the muscles that are on both sides of the spine and travel from the base of the skull down to your butt).

This move isn’t a great hypertrophy move unless you really stress the lowering portion (eccentric phase) of the lift. Instead, focus on building strength with a powerful concentric phase (the lifting portion).

Just make sure you are doing them right.

2. Hip Thrusts

We love hip thrusts.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, will build your glutes like good hip thrusts.

You can do hip thrusts with bodyweight only. Then you can up the ante and add a weight to your lap like in the picture above. If you REALLY want a good glute workout put a weight on your lap and a band around your knees.

Download the Serious Guide to Glute Training (it’s free) to learn how to build powerful glutes.

3. Romanian Deadlifts

Romanian deadlifts will destroy your hamstrings in the best way. Since the hamstrings cross two joints: the hips, and the knees, hinging at the hip is an awesome way to force growth. The other way to work the hamstrings is with a lying hamstring curl machine–this is a much less functional exercise and should not be the primary exercise for your hamstrings.

If you do them really well you will also get an awesome mid back workout.

Learning to do these with perfect technique will help your deadlifts tremendously.

4. Good Mornings

Good mornings follow a very similar pattern to Romanian Deadlifts.

The key difference is that instead of the weight being in your hands, it is across your shoulders like a squat.

The good morning shifts the posterior chain focus from your hamstrings to your low back and glutes.

The key to great good mornings is to hinge at the hips, and when you reach the point that going any lower would force you to lose tightness in your back, squat just a little to reach max range of motion in the hip.

5. SIngle Leg Romanian Deadlifts

Like all unilateral exercises, Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts are great for exposing asymmetries.

This exercise will challenge your balance, and let you know if you have one leg that is stronger than the other (you probably do).

The key is to hold the dumbbell or kettlebell in your left hand when using your left leg, and right hand for the right leg. This will help balance the leg you are holding in the air by adding a counterweight.

6. CAble Pull-Throughs

These are tough, and great for your glutes and hamstrings.

The hardest part about this exercise is keeping your balance while using a weight heavy enough to challenge your posterior chain.

Keep the weight lower and use high reps, a large range of motion, and slower reps to challenge yourself while staying balanced.

Build Your GLutes for a Powerful Deadlift

Glutes are incredibly important for hip dominant exercises, and you need to target them to build your other lifts.

Check out the Serious Guide to Glute Training to maximize their development.

Download The Serious Guide to Glute Training

Keith Hansen

Keith was an All-State wrestler in high school and in 2007 hung up his singlet to attend Florida State University to pursue a B.S. in business management. He wasn't sure what industry he wanted to be involved in at the time, but soon realized after graduating in 2011 that fitness was the ever-constant activity in his life. Keith began studying to become a personal trainer and in 2013 earned the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Personal Trainer certification. After a short stint as a big box gym trainer he realized he wanted to bring something different to Tallahassee. Keith competes in Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, and Crossfit.