August 22, 2021 8 min read

Whether you are seeking to tone and strengthen your body or you are simply looking for some new movements to incorporate into your workout routine, you have taken the first step in the right direction by coming to the right place.

There is nothing stopping you now from reaching your goals. First of all, what exactly is toning and strengthening? And how can you do that for your body? Toning and strengthening are two separate concepts. Muscle tone essentially refers to your muscles' ability to resist stretching while they are at rest or they are not being used.

In contrast, muscle strength refers to your muscles' ability to perform when used and required to contract. Therefore, the terms are not interchangeable but by focusing on exercise in general, you are creating a well-rounded platform for your muscles by improving your muscle tone and strength simultaneously.

Hip thrusts are an incredible way to target thoselower body muscles including all yourglute muscles, thegluteus maximus, gluteusmedius, and gluteus minimus, in addition to thehamstrings. By performing this isolated movement, you are also working yourquadriceps, your core muscles, and your hipadductors.

What Exactly Are Hip Thrusts?

Hip thrusts are an easy, fun way to change up yourlower body workout routine. They target more than onemuscle group which can help improve your mobility and muscular strength. They are not to be confused withglute bridges although they are quite similar.

Glute bridges are typically performed on the floor with your shoulders placed on the ground whereaship thrusts are more commonly performed with your shoulders on a bench or an elevated platform. There are a couple of key differences betweenhip thrusts andglute bridges, although both focus on activating thosegluteal muscles. 

Young athletic strong woman practicing glute bridge exercise with a heavy barbell on her legs

Hip thrusts typically involve the use of free weights such as a barbell,dumbbell, or kettlebell which places more force on your muscles, leading, to moreactivation of thoselower body muscles as you lift your body off the floor.

Also,hip thrusts are great for widening yourrange of motion as they allow for a greaterrange of motion making it a great exercise to incorporate into your warm-up orglute activation routine. Regardless of which exercise you decide is right for you, you must be focusing on keeping proper form in order to target all those muscles.

What Muscles Do Hip Thrusts Target?

It's not a surprise thathip thrusts are at the top of the list for mostpersonal trainers as this exercise does not fail to target the largest muscles in your body. By incorporatinghip thrusts into your workout routine, you're allowing the movement to improve important movers and stabilizers in your body by strengthening yourposterior chain.

1. Gluteal muscles

Glutes are great to look at when they're toned and in shape but they also assist in many ways that are essential for our survival.  They allow us to do things as simple as walk, sit, stand, get out of bed, or essentially any movement that involves ourlower body. However, since society has shifted to a digital phenomenon, we're sitting the majority of the time facing a screen which can make ourglute muscles weak.

Havingglute muscles basically lead to a domino effect of weak muscles. Weakglute muscles can lead to weakerhamstrings andlower back muscles then weaklower back muscles can lead to your abdominals supporting yourlower back but if it continuously has to compensate, it could lead to further injury andlower back pain.

2.Hip Flexors

Thehip thrust movement prepares yourhip flexors for exercises likeRomanian deadlifts. You might also be familiar with the term "psoas" for yourhip flexors. Every time you take a simple step, you are engaging and using thosehip flexor muscles.

3. Abdominals

While you are actively engaging yourglute muscles, you also are strengthening your abdominal muscles as they help you lift up during the movement. Your abdominals are part of the core group of muscles in your body that essentially allow you to perform any task at any point in the day. It is good to incorporate exercises like hip thrusts as well as other core exercises to further develop your abdominal muscles.

Hip Thrust Benefits

1. Great for Hypertrophy, Strength, or Power

Hip thrusts provide the perfect platform for individuals seeking to work on theirglute muscles and the strength and power associated with them. It is up to you how heavy or how light you load up yourhip thrusts depending on your goals.

If you are seeking strength, you might decide to use a heavy barbell but if you are seeking to improve your endurance, you might decide to use a lighterdumbbell and perform more reps. It is an extremely flexible movement that can be manipulated in a variety of ways to allow you to reach your goals

According to Physiology Reports, the manipulation of acute variables such as volume or intensity can induce an anabolic response to exercise which can lead to hypertrophy.

2. Great Warm-Up Exercise 

Hip thrusts are a great movement to incorporate in both your warm-up and cool-down routine as once again, it is extremely flexible. They can be performed using simply yourbody weight to help prepare your body for the exercise it is about to endure.

They prepare your body for thehip extension which is extremely important especially when you are about to work yourglutes as you are sending a signal to all those agonist and antagonist muscles that they need to prepare for exercise.

3. Wide Variety Of Alternatives

Other than the fact thathip thrusts on their own can be manipulated in a variety of ways with regards to the number of reps you perform, the speed you perform them at as well as the amount of weight placed onto your hips, they are also great as there are so many alternatives to the traditionalhip thrust. Keep reading to learn more about finding the perfect one for your workout routine.

Hip Thrust Alternatives for Tone and Strength

At the end of the day, making sure you have proper form is crucial. It is advisable to perform these exercises in front of a mirror to ensure you are safely performing the movement in order to maximize your workout.

Now, if you’re not feeling motivated, go grab the Ultimate Pre-Workout Stack and give one of these alternatives a try. This stack comes in a variety of flavors that will give you the energy to have a killer workout.

1. Traditional Hip Thrust

How To:

  1. Find an elevated surface such as a bench, step, or box. 
  2. Place yourshoulder blades against the bench, step, or box.
  3. Place your feetshoulder-width apart near yourglutes and distribute the weight into your feet. You will be in a similar position as a normal hip bridge but yourupper back will be elevated. 
  4. When in the correct position, start pushing your hips up while keeping the weight in your heels. 
  5. Squeeze yourglutes and abs throughout the whole process and stop when your hips are extended fully.

It is crucial you do not hyperextend your back as this could cause injury.

  1. Hold at the top for 2-3 seconds and slowly lower your body back down to thestarting position
  2. Repeat steps 1-6 for your desired number of reps and sets.

2.Resistance Band Hip Thrust

How To:

  1. Place your back on one of the elevated surfaces mentioned above. 
  2. Grab aresistance band as well as heavydumbbells and place them near you. 
  3. Get into yourstarting position by sitting on the ground with yourupper back placed on the elevated surface.
  4. Place your feet near yourglutes atshoulder-width apart. 
  5. Place the one end of theresistance band looped around one of thedumbbell handles and the other end over your lap. 
  6. Once the band is tightly placed over your hip bones, push your hips upwards slowly. 
  7. Squeeze yourglutes and abs at the top for about 2-3 seconds then slowly lower down tostarting position.
  8. Repeat steps 1-8 for your desired number of reps and sets.

3.Single-Leg Hip Thrust

How To:

  1. Find an elevated surface such as a bench, step, or box. 
  2. Place yourshoulder blades against the bench, step, or box.
  3. Place your feet near yourglutes atshoulder-width apart and distribute the weight into your feet. 
  4. Lift a leg of your choice off the ground (try starting with your non-dominant leg) and keep it at the hip joint's level.
  5. Push your hips up while keeping the weight in your opposite heel.
  6. Keep yourglutes and abs engaged and squeeze at the top for about 2-3 seconds.
  7. Slowly lower down in a controlled manner to thestarting position.
  8. Repeat for your desired number of reps and sets then switch legs to your dominant side.

4.Barbell Hip Thrust

How To:

  1. Place yourshoulder blades against the bench, step, or box. Place the barbell of your desired weight on your hips.
  2. Place your feet near yourglutes and distribute the weight into your feet. 
  3. Place your feet near yourglutes atshoulder-width apart and distribute the weight into your feet. You will be in a similar position as a normal hip bridge but yourupper back will be elevated. 
  4. When in the correct position, start pushing your hips up while keeping the weight in your heels. 
  5. Squeeze yourglutes and abs throughout the whole process and stop when your hips are extended fully
  6.  Hold at the top for 2-3 seconds and slowly lower your body back down to thestarting position
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 for your desired number of reps and sets.

5.Smith Machine Hip Thrust

How To:

  1. Place yourshoulder blades against the bench, step, or box. a couple of feet away from asmith machine bar but stay parallel to it. 
  2. Lay on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. 
  3. Place yourupper back against an elevated surface and place your feet towards yourglutes. Lift your hips upwards slowly and squeeze at the top. 
  4. Once your hips are fully extended, slowly lower with control to yourstarting position
  5. Rotate the bar to engage the catch mechanisms once you've completed your desired number of sets and reps.

Now, if you simply want to take a break from thehip thrust movement in general, you can try out the following exercises that still target thoseglute muscles!

6. High Reverse Plank

This is agreat alternative that is similar to planks but uses different muscles.

How To:

  1. Lay on the floor with your feet in front of you. 
  2. Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle and lay back onto them. 
  3. Drive up your hips so you are doing a reverse plank. 
  4. Hold this position for about 30-45 seconds then with control, drop back down.

7. Bulgarian Split Squats

How To:

  1. Stand about 2 feet away from an elevated surface such as a bench or a chair. 
  2. Place your right foot on the bench behind you and make sure your feet are about hip-distance apart. 
  3. Use your back foot as a means for balance. 
  4. Inhale then squeeze your core and keep your chest high while you slowly lower until your leftquadricep is parallel to the ground. 
  5. Push through your left foot and slowly come back to standing

Wrap-Up

No matter which alternative you decide to incorporate into your workout routine or if you simply perform a traditionalhip thrust exercise, you are one step closer to those muscle gains. Hip thrusts are a great exercise you can incorporate into your warm-up, main portion of your workout, or your cool-down as they are extremely flexible.

They target a wide variety ofmuscle groups and guarantee engagement as long as they are being performed properly and safely.  It is time for you to work towards your goals and I am sure between the 7 alternatives listed above, there must be one that you’re curious to try out.

If you would like to learn more about alternatives for traditional exercises we are all guilty of repetitively performing, check out the 5 best pull-up alternative exercises. As you focus on working out your toning and strengthening yourlower body, you have to make sure you balance it out with yourupper-body days!


x