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August 21, 2021 9 min read

Hip thrusts are one of the top exercises for  building the booty of your dreams.

Some might say hip thrusts are an essential weightlifting movement when seeking great results.

If you’ve ever tried hip thrusts for yourself and are met with serious pain and pressure on the hip bones, you may be missing one necessary piece to the puzzle: a good hip thrust pad. 

What Are Hip Thrusts?

Okay, we give you permission to laugh. The term “hip thrust” comes with its connotations. All jokes aside, this lower body movement is no joke and will have your glutes on fire by the end of your first set.

While some claim they can build their lower body physique using just resistance bands or “booty bands”, many people attribute their  glute-building successes to hip thrusts.

Man training glutes in the gym

If you’re no stranger to the gym or if you follow fitness gurus online, you’ve likely seen a hip thrust once or twice. While they may seem easy enough, the form can be difficult to master. This is especially true of weighted barbell hip thrusts. Without excellent form, you can suffer from a multitude of serious problems, including back injuries.

Enter: hip thrust pads. While they aren’t an overall fix for your hip thrust form, the comfort pads provide for weighted hip thrusts can make it much easier to focus on proper movement form. If you’ve ever placed a barbell on your hips with nothing between you and the var, you know how painful it can be.

This can even lead to bruising and soreness, which is not a great breeding ground for PRs and improvements. What’s more, is hip thrust pads allow the weight to stay in place easier.

When you’ve got your moisture-wicking shorts or leggings on, metal barbells slip and slide, causing your form to go out the window. And if you’re no stranger to hip thrusts but have been using the old yoga mat method, here’s your sign to upgrade. 

Benefits of Hip Thrusts

If you’ve always wanted to try hip thrusts but feel intimidated by the movement, here’s a list of hip thrust benefits to spark your motivation:

  • Improve Posture: The stabilizers that are engaged during the hip thrust movement are some of the most important core muscles for good posture. Even the glutes themselves can contribute to good posture, especially in the lower back. Having  good posture is essential to having good health.
  • Manage Pain: Certain types of pain may also be improved by hip thrusts. This is especially true if you suffer from pain due to posture issues. Furthermore, workout, in general, can aid in pain management as it gets your blood flowing and obviously builds strength within the body.
  • Mobility Improvement: Think of all the things you do throughout the day that require strong glutes. While nearly every movement can be traced back to the booty in some way, you probably notice your glutes working extra hard when you climb stairs, walk on an incline, bend down, or pick up things from the floor. With adequately strengthened glutes, these everyday tasks will become much easier and you’re likely to move with more ease.
  • Boost Explosive Strength: While boosting explosiveness does require a certain training formula, hip thrusts are a great addition to your strength training program. Having explosive strength in the glutes translates easily into your everyday life, especially if you’re a runner or cyclist.
  • Improve Other Lifts: If you’re an iron junkie, doing hip thrusts can build your glutes in ways other lifts can’t, creating otherwise untapped strength. This can help boost your other lifts, like your squats, deadlifts, and lunges.

Hip Thrust Pads

Now on to the star of the show: hip thrust pads. As stated above, no weighted hip thrust is complete without a good hip pad to protect you. Hip thrust pads are typically hollow foam tubes that wrap around a barbell. Although, there are unique versions that don’t fit the standard design.

Close-up of a black foam pad for neck support in a modern gym

Regardless of physical appearance, all hip thrust pads aim to better distribute the weight of the bar for optimum lifting comfort. The great thing about hip pads is that many of them also serve many other purposes, making them an efficient addition to your gym bag or at-home setup.

One other popular use of the barbell pad is neck/shoulder protection when performing back-loaded squats or lunges, or for use on the Smith machine. So, if you find a barbell pad labeled as a squat pad, don’t be confused!

With the vast amount of hip pads available on the market, choosing the right one can feel like an impossible task. We’ve cut out the hard work for you by giving you the ultimate buyer’s guide to the best barbell pads.

1. ProFitness Barbell Pad

The ProFitness Barbell pad features high-density foam, which is important for maximum comfort. Thick foam is also important when lifting heavier weights as the foam must be sturdy enough to not break down and lose shape.  

The design of this foam barbell pad is really its main highlight as it features a neck rest area for squats and lunges. While this is not a useful feature for hip thrusts, it can make your product more versatile and won’t affect your hip thrusts in any way.

This product features adjustable straps so your pad will stay snug on any size barbell, cutting down on slippage and movement during your workout while also giving you the versatility of being able to use it with any barbell size. Its price point is just around $20, making this a relatively affordable option. 

2. Iron Bull Strength Advanced Squat Bar Pad

If you like the functionality and design of the ProFitness Barbell pad, but wish you could express your individuality with more color options, then the Iron Bull Strength Advanced Squat Pad is for you. This product features the neck dip for lunges and squats, and its ergonomic design is standard for most bar pads in this price range.

Its one downfall is the lack of securing straps or velcro. However, this product claims to be made of anti-slip material, so this may be of no issue.  At just $25, this is also another affordable and decent option. Though the lack of securing straps or velcro may be a bit of a risk.

3. Dark Iron Fitness Extra-Thick Barbell Pad 

The Dark Iron Fitness barbell pad features high-density foam, claiming to maintain its comfort and shape through most exercises. This product is designed specifically for Olympic barbells, but will also accommodate smaller 1-inch barbells with a less snug fit.

What’s most unique about this product is the visual design. While you can opt for the minimal all-black or logoed design, they also feature pads that say “Drop It Like A Squat” and “Shut Up And Squat”.

This barbell pad does not feature a dip for the neck, but we wouldn’t say this is necessarily a bad thing. It is purely up to preference. At $19.99, this is a bit on the cheaper side for barbell or neck pads. 

4. Power Guidance Barbell Squat Pad 

This barbell pad is slightly cheaper than the standard pricing. Available on Amazon for just $15.99, you get a pretty good bang for your buck with thick foam and a non-slip coating. Like many others, the Power Guidance foam barbell pad features a neck dip for secure and snug squatting and lunging.

If you’re worried about getting a cheap, poorly made product when paying such a price, this company has a 100% money-back guarantee if you’re not totally pleased.

5. UPPPER Barbell Pad

If you’re looking for a product that feels a bit more luxurious, UPPPER’s vegan leather-coated foam pad will not disappoint. This product also features velcro for a secure and tight fit as well as a thick 1.5-inch foam padding.

Not only does this barbell pad feature a vegan leather coating, but its colors and design are also aesthetically pleasing. From sleek white to vibrant red, anyone can find their favorite.

This barbell pad does not have a special dip for the neck, but this is not necessary for comfort or usage, especially if you plan on just using the pad for hip thrusts. For just $25, you get a high-end feel for a good midrange price.

6. AbMat Hip Thrust Pad from Rogue Fitness

If the idea of using a product meant for more than one movement is off-putting to you, then try the AbMat from Rogue Fitness. This product is specially engineered for hip thrusts which might mean it may work best for the movement.

The design is very unique as it is just a thick pad rather than the common foam tube. This makes it easier to form to your specific body but may mean more potential for slippage. Rogue claims that the multi-layered technology distributes the weight and protects the hips.

It features a harder top for supporting the bar and a softer bottom for comfort, which should make for optimum lifting. The biggest downfall of this product is its pricing. At $49.95, the AbMat Hip Thrust Pad is far more expensive than the other bar pad options. However, if you’re willing to make the investment in high-quality fitness gear, it may be well worth it. 

How to Do a Hip Thrust Using Your Barbell Pad

As aforementioned, hip thrusts can be difficult to master. The best way to learn the form is using a dumbbell or a barbell without any plates loaded. To do a hip thrust using a bar pad and barbell, first install the barbell pad. Make sure the pad fits snuggly in the middle of the barbell to avoid unnecessary and distracting movement during your workout. 

Next, sit in front of a flat weight bench so that your back is touching one of the longer sides. Roll the barbell up your body to your hips. This will be harder without loaded plates, so it may be best to have someone help you place the barbell for your first few tries.

Being sure your shoulder blades are rested on the bench, prepare for the movement by planting both feet on the ground and engaging the core. Grasp the bar and thrust the bar up using your hips. Maintain a forward gaze and keep your upper body steady. Also, avoid excessive movement in the feet. 

At the top of the movement, feel as if you are tucking your glutes in slightly, but do not overdo it. Then, in a controlled manner, lower the weights back down. If you’re doing multiple reps, don’t touch the barbell to the ground each time you complete a rep.

Common Hip Thrust Mistakes

While barbell pads definitely help you up your hip thrusting game, they are not always an immediate fix to your form. There are several other issues that could make your hip thrusts less effective, such as:

  • Poor Foot Placement: You may not realize that where you place your feet will determine what muscles are more activated. To target your glutes, it may take some experimentation, but typically it is a foot placement that is not too far that your toes are pointed up and not too close that your heels touch your butt. Again, play around with what works for your body as everyone is different.
  • Not Eating Enough Protein: If you do everything about your hip thrusts right but you still aren’t seeing results months later, it may not be your gym sessions that are to blame. Often we forget about the power of what happens outside the gym. The most important thing other than training is your diet. If you’re looking to build large glutes, you need to be in a calorie surplus and consume adequate amounts of protein. Protein can be hard to incorporate into your diet but you can diminish the hassle with  Steel Supplement’s Hot Cocoa Veg-Pro Protein Powder!
  • Over-Exaggerating at the Top: When doing hip thrusts, you can get stuck doing what you’re used to. For most people, their first instinct for form comes from their familiarity with glute bridges. While glute bridges are a great movement, their form cannot accurately be applied to hip thrusts. Instead of thinking about an arch at the top of your movement, think about a slight tuck of the hips and glutes.
  • Arching the Lumbar Spine: At the end of each hip thrust, it may feel natural or more effective to throw the hips back so that the lumbar spine is severely arched. However, this is a back injury in the making and your hip thrusts will suffer for it. Instead, try your best to maintain an overall aligned torso, allowing only for small adjustments.
  • Unnecessary Head Movement: Hip thrusts are a very unnatural motion and knowing what to do with your upper body can be confusing. Most people tend to move their shoulders, neck, and head along with the thrust. However, this is horrible for your form and will create a lot of issues. Try to keep the upper body as still as possible. Your head should remain forward despite the position and movement in the lower body.
  • Too Much Weight or Too Fast: We get it, weightlifting gets you pumped. Everyone is guilting of ego lifting and losing their form in light of excitement. While this is a common occurrence, it’s still not entirely excusable as it can be detrimental to the body. Both moving too quickly and lifting more weight than you’re able to will make it nearly impossible to maintain good form. While lifting heavy weight is a great feat, doing so without good form won’t get you anywhere.

Last Word on Hip Thrust Pads

You may be tempted to choose a bar pad hastily without much research, thinking they are all one and the same. However, you may be faced with loose-fitting pads that slide around uncomfortably during your sets. This leads to distracted and difficult workout sessions.

Too often, we are met with pain when working out. This pain inhibits our ability to reach our fitness goals. 

Stretching and rehabilitation for injuries work well, but sometimes we need tools to make the process less likely to result in injury in the first place.

Hip thrust pads are a relatively cheap yet essential part of every lifter’s gym bag when it comes to protecting yourself and helping yourself perform at your best.