Why the Hip Thrust Is a Fantastic Tool for Building Strong and Powerful Glutes

The hip thrust is an exercise that virtually every fitness enthusiast can reap benefit from.

Few exercises compare to the hip thrust when you’re on the mission of building strong and powerful glutes. Over the last few years, the hip thrust has continued to grow in popularity due to the increased understanding of how strong glutes have carryover to pretty much every aspect of life, especially performance in sport and the gym. 

One of the best benefits of the hip thrust is that it can be used for multiple training adaptations. For example, the hip thrust is phenomenal for training glute:

  • Hypertrophy
  • Strength
  • Power

If this article, we breakdown how to properly perform hip thrusts, their benefits, muscles worked, variations, and mistakes to avoid. For the visual learners out there, check out our in-depth hip thrust video guide below!

How-To Hip Thrust

The hip thrust is relatively simple to perform in nature, but understanding how to properly setup and brace is incredibly important for success and shouldn’t be overlooked. 

1.
Place the loaded bar in the hip crease.

Start by placing the barbell in the hip crease, making sure to adjust yourself if need to get comfortable. You can add a pad or mat in the hip crease to minimize any painful pressing of the barbell into the pelvis/hip flexors.

Once you have assumed a flexed hip position, secure the barbell in the hip crease so that your back is flat and flexed, with the feet pushing downwards into the heels, with bent knees.

Coach’s Tip: Your knee joints should be about 90 degrees. This will help increase stability.

2.
Stabilize the upper back on the bench.

Place your upper back onto the bench, so that your body is perpendicular to the bench angle.

The shoulderblades should be pushing into the bench, with the head and upper back on the bench, or slightly behind the bench.

Coach’s Tip: At the top of the hip thrust, you should be able to lift your hips upwards so that the torso is parallel to the floor. If you feel like you cannot, you may also need to readjust your positioning on the bench/upper back.

3.
Press through the heels and lift the hips.

Once you are set, pull the belly tight and keep the back flat. Often, lifters will arch the lower back and miss-load the hips at the bottom of the position.

Lock your torso in so that the hips move up and down almost as if your torso as a crowbar/level. There should be no instability across the core when performing this movement.

Coach’s Tip: Keep your abs tight and pinch you glutes together as you lift. Avoid arching your back.

Hip Thrust Benefits

There are multiple benefits that come along with regularly performing hip thrusts. Whether you’re a beginner or a weathered gym rat, the hip thrust can have multiple benefits for you. 

1. Glute Hypertrophy, Strength, and Power

For anyone trying to improve their glute size, strength, and power, the hip thrust is an awesome exercise for doing so. Fitness enthusiasts can load the hip thrust in multiple ways for specific training adaptations. 

If you want to focus on hypertrophy, then you can program hip thrusts with lighter weights and add in tempo work, and if you want to focus on strength and power you can decrease the reps and up the intensity. 

2. Easy to Scale

Another benefit of the hip thrust that extends from a programming mindset is that it’s an easy exercise to scale for various fitness levels. You can use implements like dumbbells and even your own bodyweight to obtain hip thrust benefits. 

Hip Thrust Benefits
Hip Thrust Benefits

3. Great for Warm-Up and Burnouts

Outside of training adaptation benefits, the hip thrust is a fantastic movement for warm-up and cool-down purposes. The hip thrust can be performed with one’s bodyweight and lighter intensities to warm-up strong hip extension patterning, and can be useful for burnout purposes at the end of workouts for hypertrophy. 

The hip thrust has equal warm-up, working set, and burnout benefits, and it does a great job at providing benefit across multiple time frames in a workout. 

Hip Thrust Muscles Worked

To no surprise, the hip thrust trains the glutes primarily and has some training benefits for the quads, adductors, and hamstrings as well. Check out the muscles the hip thrust works below:

  • Glute Maximus — Primary Mover
  • Glute Medius
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Adductors 

Hip Thrust Variations and Progressions

In this guide, we’ll cover three different hip thrust variations and progressions. The three exercises below can be great for the beginner working towards the barbell hip thrust. 

Dumbbell Hip Thrust
Dumbbell Hip Thrust

1. Dumbbell Hip Thrust

The dumbbell hip thrust will be performed exactly the same as a barbell hip thrust. However, instead of grabbing a barbell, swap it out for a dumbbell and perform your reps and sets accordingly!

2. Glute Bridge

The glute bridge is slightly different from the hip thrust in how athletes will setup and perform it, but it’s similar in that it trains a strong hip extension. For this reason, we love the glute bridge as a primer for working towards loaded barbell hip thrusts. 

Glute Bridge
Glute Bridge

How-To Glute Bridge

  • Lie on the floor, contract the upper back, and bring the feet in to where the knees create a 90 degree angle when in hip extension.
  • Keep the feet between hip and shoulder width apart. 
  • Extend the hips and actively think about contracting the glutes.  

3. Single-Leg Glute Bridge

The single-leg glute bridge is another great exercise for working towards hip thrusts and is a direct progression for the glute bridge. This movement variation is also great for assessing potential imbalances between the left and right hip. 

Single-Leg Glute Bridge
Single-Leg Glute Bridge

How-To Single-Leg Glute Bridge

  • Lie on the floor, contract the upper back, and bring the feet in to where the knees create a 90 degree angle when in hip extension.
  • Extend one leg upwards and contract the quad when doing so. 
  • Keep the planted foot flat on the ground. 
  • Extend the hips and actively think about contracting the glutes.

Hip Thrust Mistakes

There are a couple hip thrust mistakes that every fitness enthusiast should be cognizant of when routinely performing them. 

1. Feet Too Close to the Butt

The first mistake is bringing the feet too close to the butt. Ideally, you want to create a 90 degree angle at the knee when the hips are in full extension. If the feet are too close to the butt, then hip extension will be limited and it will be uncomfortable on the knees. 

Hip Thrust Mistakes
Hip Thrust Mistakes

2. Overly Extending the Lower Back

Another common mistake that beginners can sometimes fall victim to when performing the hip thrust is extending the lumbar in compensation for hip extension. If you find that your lower back is getting sore from hip thrusts routinely, then it might be a sign to drop the weight and work on hip extension mechanics. 

When performing the hip thrust, think about keeping the rib cage down and avoid letting them flare at the top when hitting hip extension. 

Wrapping Up

Hip thrusts are a fantastic training tool for building a strong posterior. Powerful glutes can have carryover to nearly every aspect of life and it’s incredibly important to train hip extension on a regular basis. 

If you’re trying to target the glutes and isolate hip extension specifically, then hip thrusts can be a great training tool for doing so. 

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

Jake holds a Master’s in Sports Science and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as the Fitness and Training Editor at BarBend. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand.

As of right now, Jake has published over 1,300 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake’s bread-and-butter.

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