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November 07, 2021 9 min read

If you’re looking for an exercise that’ll really blast your glute muscles, then you’ll definitely want to include hip thrusts into your leg day or lower body routine. The hip thrust is a favored exercise for many lifters because it’s so good at targeting the glutes.

It also has other benefits besides helping you build a nice posterior. Keep on reading to learn the proper form, benefits, and all of the muscles that are worked during this exercise. 

Muscles Worked 

As we said in the beginning, the hip thrust primarily focuses on the glute muscles, otherwise known as your gluteus Maximus and gluteus medius. However, this is not the only muscle that’s worked during the exercise. Hip thrusts actually work your hamstrings, hip adductors, and hip flexors too!

Also, to a lesser extent, you’ll work your quads, abs, and hip abductor muscles. 

The Benefits of Hip Thrusts

Now, obviously, the most notable benefit of performing hip thrusts is that you’ll have an easier time gaining strength in your glutes and making them bigger. However, there are actually some secondary benefits to this exercise that will help improve your overall health. 

You might not know this, but glute strength is extremely important when it comes to the stabilization of your lower back and core.

Without strong enough glutes, you will actually have a higher risk of things like lower back pain and even knee pain!

Many people tend to live sedentary lifestyles these days and don’t properly engage their glute muscles. So, if you have lower back pain, including this exercise may help to relieve you. 

Finally, this exercise is extremely easy to scale up, or down, making it very effective as a warm-up, cool-down, or anything else in between.

You can use your own bodyweight, dumbbells, and even a heavy barbell for this exercise to really maximize the effectiveness. Whether you’re working out at home or at the gym, you can easily start including this exercise in a lower body or leg workout. 

How To Do A Hip Thrust

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of this exercise, let’s show you how to do it with perfect form. For the purposes of this article, we’re assuming that you have access to a bench or a similar surface like it. 

  1. First, you’ll need to get set up on the bench. Start off by putting your back against it. Your knees should be bent, with your feet flat on the ground. Adjust your position so that the edge of the bench is just below your shoulder blades. 
  2. Keep your chin tucked, then push with your heels until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Ideally, your legs should form a 90-degree angle at the knee. While at the top of the exercise, make sure to squeeze your glutes. 
  3. Hold this position for a moment, then lower yourself down to your original position. 

Tips For Doing Hip Thrusts

While this exercise might seem pretty simple, there are still some things that people get wrong, especially new lifters. So here are some things you should pay attention to as you’re doing this exercise to make sure you’re using proper form and doing it right. 

  • Pushing with the ball of your feet is one of the most common mistakes for this exercise. Instead, you should be pushing with your heels if you really want to nail this exercise. If you’re not driving the weight up with your heels, you actually won’t activate your glutes and hamstrings! Instead, you’ll target your quadriceps, and there are way better exercises for blasting your quads than an improper hip thrust. If for some reason, you find it difficult to do this, we’ve found it helps to raise our toes up off the ground slightly. 
  • Foot position is something that you might not think about immediately but it can really help with this exercise. Generally, you want to make sure that your shins are perpendicular to the floor at the top of this exercise. So, your shins should essentially be standing straight up if you’re doing it right. This helps ensure that your glutes are activating.
  • Maintaining a stiff back is crucial to preventing any sort of injury or pain during this exercise. Many beginners will move their lower back when first doing this exercise, but this is not the right way to do things. You’ll need to keep your entire back locked as you go through the motion. Obviously, your torso will move during this exercise, the key is to make sure you’re not bending your back. Engaging your core and squeezing your glutes is a great way to help keep your back straight. 
  • Always be in control of the weight while you’re doing this exercise. This means that you shouldn’t be doing this exercise as fast as you can. You may need to slow down in order to control things more. The best way to make sure that you’re taking enough time with the exercise is to pause at the top of the motion when you squeeze your glutes. 
  • Full range of motion is an integral part of any exercise unless you’re specifically doing half-reps to target a muscle group. When doing hip thrusts, this should not be the case. Make sure your hips are fully extended when you do this exercise for maximum effectiveness. 
  • Barbell pads are a very useful tool, especially when you’re using really heavy weight on a barbell. It can be very uncomfortable or painful when doing a hip thrust while the barbell is loaded up. These foam pads wrap around the barbell and ensure that you’ll be comfortable and pain-free during the exercise. 

Hip Thrust Variations You Should Try

The hip thrust has other variations that you can do to mix things up. Or, if you don’t have anywhere to do it with proper form or weight, there are versions that don’t require any equipment. 

Barbell Hip Thrust

For this exercise, you'll be doing the exact same thing as a normal hip thrust, but with one key difference, you're loading a barbell onto your pelvis. The only other step you need to worry about is loading the barbell when you get your starting position set up.

To do this, you'll just have to sit on the ground and roll the barbell over top of you and then get back into the hip thrust position. This is the perfect variation if you really want to build strength in your glutes.

You may need a shot of CHARGED-AF to get the job done for these.

Dumbbell Hip Thrust

This is another variation that will help you to add some extra weight and challenge to your hip thrusts. It's a bit easier to get into position, compared to the barbell variation. For this one, all you need to do is grab a dumbbell of your choice, and hold it on your pelvis as you do the hip thrust. It's good if you're not strong enough for a barbell hip thrust yet.  

Resistance Band Hip Thrust

This variation can be a little tricky to use just because of how you have to position yourself with the resistance bands. Essentially, you need to loop each end of the band on each of your feet, bring the band over your knees, and then have it stay on your pelvis.

There are special benches that can help with this and it can be a good alternative if you don't have any dumbbells or barbells and still want to add weight to the exercise. 

Glute Bridge

The glute bridge is essentially just a bodyweight hip thrust without the use of a bench or any other equipment. 

To do a proper glute bridge, just follow these simple steps: 

  1. First, set yourself up by laying flat on the ground or with a yoga mat. Bring your feet in towards your butt so your knees are bent and pointed upwards
  2. Now, simply drive your hips upward as you would do with a hip thrust, pause for a moment at the top of the movement, and lower yourself back down.
  3. Rest for a moment and start the next repetition. 

Single-Leg Hip Thrust

If you’re finding that hip thrusts on their own aren’t enough of a challenge for your glutes, or if you want to focus on one side of your glutes, try this exercise. It’s also a great challenge in terms of stability and balance since you’re only up on one leg. 

Doing this exercise is fairly simple once you’ve mastered the normal hip thrust. All you need to do is straighten out one of your legs and lift it up a little while you’re doing a normal hip thrust. 

Hip Thrust Alternatives

If you’re not too keen on doing hip thrusts, there are plenty of alternative exercises that you can do in their place.

Also, you can add these glute exercises to your workout routine, alongside hip thrust, to really wear out your muscles and get a great workout! 

  • Romanian deadlifts are an excellent alternative to hip thrusts. We highly recommend doing this exercise in conjunction with hip thrusts or if you need to replace them in your program. The reason is that both hip thrusts and Romanian deadlifts work the same muscles and actually use a similar movement. Specifically, both exercises use a hip hinge and require strong glute muscles in order to extend the hips all the way. 
  • Good mornings are another alternative that you should take a look at. Admittedly, this exercise doesn’t work your glutes and hamstrings as much as a hip thrust or RDL. Instead, it’s better for working on your lower back muscles. It’s still wise to include this alongside hip thrusts as a way to maximize lower back strength. 

What Kind of Lifters Should Do Hip Thrusts

There is, admittedly, a bit of a stigma surrounding the hip thrust exercise. Many people tend to think that it’s solely for women who are looking to get a bigger butt. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In reality, the hip thrust is useful for just about every type of lifter. 

Starting out with competitive weightlifters, it should be no surprise that having extra strength in your glutes helps with both squats and deadlifts. Both of these crucial lifts require a lot of glute activation and strength as they use a lot of muscles in the posterior chain.

Additionally, the extra hip extension capabilities from the exercise can assist you as well. Whether you’re training for strongman, Olympic weightlifting, or powerlifting, you’ll get good mileage from the hip thrust. 

For bodybuilders, you may find this exercise good for balancing out your physique before a show. Filling out your glutes and hamstrings can really make your legs look all that more impressive to the judges! 

Routine Recommendations 

As you may know, when it comes to weightlifting, there are three main goals you can strive for: strength, endurance, and hypertrophy.

When it comes to the hip thrust, you should identify what your goal is and then plan your program or routine around that. Here, we’ve got a few recommendations for what you can do to get started.

There are lots of ways to include the hip thrust into a program and what we will talk about is by no means the only way to do so! Do what suits you the best. 

First of all, you’ll need to determine where in your routine you should put hip thrusts. Again, this all depends on what your goal is for using the hip thrust. For instance, if you’re going for hypertrophy training, you should do this exercise after you’ve done an exercise or lift that’s more intended for strength. 

If you’re going for hypertrophy with a hip thrust, you’ll want to use a moderate or heavyweight and shoot for a rep range of 10-12. Some programs do this for three sets, some might go for five instead. F

ive sets if you’re using a moderate weight and three if you’re going heavier. Also, remember to rest for a minute between your sets, you don’t want to fatigue your muscles too quickly.

You might want to have some BCAA’s to help you recover.  

Raw strength training with hip thrusts can be useful for people who are trying to help lower back problems. As we mentioned before, stronger glutes can help stabilize your lower back and pelvis, reducing back pain.

For this goal, you should use heavy weight and aim for anywhere between 5 and 8 reps per set. Additionally, you should do this for three to five sets. Lifting heavy can be difficult, so make sure your form is correct and avoid using your momentum to complete reps. There’s no shame in reducing the weight so you can correct your form. 

Training for endurance has its practical uses. Obviously, it’s nice to have your glutes not get tired so easily during heavy lifting. For this goal, you should be using a light weight and your rep range should be 15 to 20 reps. Just like the other routine variations, you should make sure to rest for a minute in-between sets. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, the hip thrust is a useful exercise that every lifter should consider adding to their routine.  The exercise is easily one of the best ways to add strength or size to your posterior allowing you to build some seriously glorious gluteals.

Additionally, the hip thrust can be used to help reduce lower back pain by strengthening the glute muscles. If you haven’t already, start doing this exercise!