3 Hip Thrust Variations to Build a More Stable Butt

Less weight, more instability.

There’s no doubt if you want a strong pair of glutes that not only look good but make you stronger on and off the field, barbell hip thrusts should be your go-to exercise.

Strong glutes help with lower back pain, improved hip mobility, deadlifting, (especially lockout) and can even help you run faster. The barbell hip thrust is a fantastic all-around exercise and needs to be in your training program.

However, not everyone feels great with a heavy bar across their pelvis and sometimes you need a break from the barbell, but you still want to train your glutes with intensity.  

Here are three variations to pump up your glutes so you can look great in your favorite pair of pants without crushing your joints.

Relative to the standard barbell version, the three variations below are performed with less resistance and more instability, so they’re perfect for higher reps at the end of your leg training or as a finisher. Make sure to check out your curves in the mirror when you’re done.

[Related: 6 Things I Learned From 6 Months of Hip Thrusts]

1. Stability Ball Hip Thrusts

The stability ball helps with hip thrust form as the instability of the ball will give you instant feedback if anything is ‘off.’ Unlike the bench hip thrust, the ball version is best done with bodyweight, bands, or a dumbbell for safety reasons. 

Form And Programming Considerations

Sit on the ball and slowly walk forward until your upper back is on the ball. Keep your chin tucked, ribs down and squeeze your glutes at lockout. When you’re finished, slowly walk back until you’re sitting on the ball.

Due to the lower resistance and increased instability, this is best done for higher reps. Try this ladder pause set on for size: start with 6 reps and pause for 6 seconds at the end of the 6th rep. Do 5 with a 5 second pause and follow this sequence until you get to 1 rep. 

2. Chaos Hip Thrust

This one isn’t for the faint of heart. The unstable band demands you do the exercise slow and in a controlled manner, or you’ll lose balance and smack your head on something. (BarBend accepts no responsibility if you do so.) 

The instability (of the band) is a great technique fixer, involves more of the hip stabilizer muscles, and it really works the hamstrings. You’ll either love or hate this exercise.

Form And Programming Considerations

Set up the band (strongest band you have on hand) on the lower rungs on the squat rack, almost even with the weight bench you’re using. Place your midfoot on the band, hip width apart. Again, keep your chin tucked, ribs down and squeeze your glutes at lockout.

Pairing this with another chaos exercise, like a push-up or side plank works well. For example,

1A. Chaos Hip Thrust 12-15 reps

1B. Chaos Push Up 12 reps

[Related: 5 “Chaos” Band Exercises to Add Instability to Your Workout Program]

3. Band Frog Hip Thrust

With the frog pump you’re abducting and externally rotating the hips and flexing the lower back. This eliminates the hamstrings and erectors (a lower back muscle) and engages the glutes more. Adding a band and a bench adds even more resistance and range of motion.

You might want to make sure you’re avoiding eye contact when performing this exercise.

Form And Programming Considerations 

Keep your chin tucked, ribs and shoulders down, and squeeze your glutes as hard as possible at lockout to get the best out of this exercise. For a great glute pump at the end of your training, do 3 sets of 20 reps with 1 to 2 minutes of rest between sets.

Wrapping Up

Using different tools for the same exercise adds variety to your accessory exercises and gives your spine a welcome break from the barbell.  Plus, working more muscle with less resistance still keeps your intensity high.

You will truly have back after doing these.

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured image via MIGUEL MARTINEZ FRIAS/Shutterstock

Shane McLean

Shane McLean

Shane McLean is a Certified Personal Trainer who’s worked with a wide variety of clients, from the general population client all the way to ex-Navy seals and college athletes.

Shane is a big believer in seeing exercise as a gift for the body and never a punishment — exercise should be as enjoyable as possible and never just a “work” out.

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