Glute training is a key for increasing strength and power in movements like squats, deadlifts, sprinting, and the Olympic lifts. Strength, power, and fitness athletes can perform glute/hip specific exercise within their program to further enhance fitness and sports performance.
In this article, we will compare two effective glute exercises, the glute bridge vs hip thrust, to assist coaches and athletes program more effectively.
The glute bridge and hip thrust are two very similar glute exercises. The glute bridge is done with a lifter lying on their back, and raising the hips off the floor (unlike the hip thrust, which has the person place their back on a bench). Below is an exercise demonstration on how to perform the glute bridge.
The hip thrust involves a lifter to place their back across a bench and raise the hips of the floor. In the below video the hip thrust is demonstrated.
Glute Bridge vs Hip Thrust
Below is six (6) programming aspects coaches and athletes should consider when determining which movement, the glute bridge vs hip thrust, is best based on training/sport goal.
Both exercises target the glutes and hamstrings (to a lesser extent). For coaches looking to increase strength and hypertrophy of the glutes, both exercise can be used interchangeably in a training program.
When looking to increase glute activation, coaches and athletes have a wide array of exercise to choose from. Depending on the abilities levels (see below) of the lifter/athlete and/or the equipment available (glute bridges do not require a bench), both movements can be used within a program to target the glutes.
Comfort (of External Load on Hips)
Both movements can be done with external loading (see below), using dumbbells, barbells, and other weighted objects. One of the most effective ways to do this in most gyms is to use a barbell across the hip crease. In doing so, you can use high amounts of external loading, such as James Harrison’s 675lb hip thrust. At some point, both movements can get uncomfortable with external load, however the hip thrust does allow you to use significantly more load (and by default, may resort in slightly more discomfort). The solution? Use a light yoga mat or pad around the barbell to pad the hips, as leaner athletes may have issues with having hundreds of pounds of pressure resting directly on the anterior pelvis.
When looking at the difficulty to perform these glute exercises, factors such as range of motion should be discussed (increased ranges of motion often equate to greater mobility/flexibility needs and strength demands). The hip thrust is a movement that may be slightly more challenging for lifters who may lack foundational hip hinging mechanics and/or basics hip strength, primarily due to the increased range of motion (by using the bench to increase hip flexion).
Ability to Add Load
Both movements can allow a lifter to load with external weight, via small dumbbells, sandbags, and barbells. The hip thrust allows for a greater range of motion and may allow for greater amounts of loading. The glute bridge has less range of motion (standard barbell from the floor will be too high to be loading the deepest angles of hip flexion) which could limit the amount of load a lifter could handle.
Both the glute bridge and the hip thrust can be done with zero external loading, which is beneficial for fitness training on the go, during class warm-ups, or training with time constraints. The hip thrust, however does involve a lifter placing the back across a bench to allow for greater range of motion by elevating the body from the floor, which can be a limitation in some settings where a bench may not be available.
Build Stronger Glutes
Take a look at the below article and learn how to build serious glute muscles to boost squat, deadlift, and athletic performance!
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