The hip thrust is believed to be the top exercise for building glute size and strength, but there are many more reasons to thrust besides simply the aesthetic results. Having strong glutes is crucial for men and women alike, but especially for men who want to improve their other lifts in the gym and their overall athletic performance.
You see, the glutes are three large muscles that help to stabilize the lower back and pelvic region. When the glutes are weak, other problems and injuries tend to occur up or down the kinetic chain in the lower back, hips, or even the knees. Having strong glutes can improve muscle balance and therefore decrease injury risk.
Which types of exercises work the glutes?
The upper glutes are best targeted with bridge/thrust pattern exercises that put them under a lot of tension and abduction work. The lower glutes are best targeted with squat/lunge pattern exercises that stretch them. Some hinge pattern exercises work the glutes secondarily, but not as well as those mentioned above.
The hip thrust itself allows you to work the glutes in a very shortened range of motion through full hip extension which is not possible with squats, lunges, deadlifts, and abduction work. That’s what sets them apart from the others and makes them more superior for glute building. So why else should you add hip thrusts into your repertoire? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson hip thrusts, so that’s pretty much all the reason you need. But if you need more convincing, here are more benefits.
Benefits of hip thrusts:
- Increased lower body strength (especially lock out with other lifts like deadlifts, squats, etc.)
- Increased lower body power (with other lifts like cleans, jerks, etc.)
- Improved athletic abilities (with jumping, sprinting, etc.)
- Increased glute size
- Improved lower back, hip, and pelvic stability
Hopefully by now you’re on board to hip thrust. Let’s make sure you are hip thrusting correctly.
How to perform a barbell hip thrust:
- Set-up a barbell with weight plates in front of a bench that is 12-14" tall using the Barbell Jack. Place a squat sponge on the barbell, if desired, for comfort.
- Sit on the ground in front of the bench with your legs under the barbell. Then roll the barbell forward over the hips.
- Bend your legs with the feet hip distance apart or slightly wider and toes turned out slightly.
- Next, thrust the hips up momentarily so you can slide your upper back up onto the bench so that it rests just under the shoulder blades. Keep your chin tucked to your chest from here on out.
- Now you're set-up to begin the hip thrusts. Begin with the hips flexed and buttocks lowered (whether they touch the ground or not will vary based on your height/body). Then, thrust the hips up as you squeeze the glutes and raise the hips up until they're in line with the shoulders and knees. Legs should be at ~90-degree bend here at the top, but this can vary.
- Lower the hips back down.
- Repeat for the desired reps.
The hip thrust can be performed with a variety of equipment including but not limited to a barbell, a dumbbell, the Smith machine, or a sand bag.
Bonus: If you want to have even more fun with hip thrusts, try adding in more variations to your hip thrust work. You could add a resistance band around the knees, we always include a FREE resistance band with our Barbell Jack add a pause at the top, do a 1.5 rep, do a single-leg variation, or even add in a plyometric hop!
Dr. Stephanie Dorworth
This video and photos are a collaboration between The Barbell Jack and world-renowned Physique Coach Gareth Sapstead (MSc CSCS) | The Fitness Maverick | It's not an affiliation