The NFL’s Strongest Glutes? James Harrison Hip Thusts 675 Pounds for Reps

James Harrison is probably the most reliable pass rusher on the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the glimpses of his training regimen that he posts every few days to Instagram provide some great insight for strength coaches and fans alike.

While he posts a lot of squats and bench presses, this week his workout routine is raising a few eyebrows. That’s because he’s performing one of the most fantastic exercises for glute strength: the hip thrust. With what looks like 675 pounds. For at least 6 reps.

Of course, this movement is seldom seen in your standard gym. But although it might draw some funny looks, it’s a fantastic exercise that isolates and works all three glute muscles (maximus, medius, and minimus) and creates maximal activation at the terminal hip extension.

Popularized by strength coach Bret Contreras, CSCS (who has an actual PhD in the hip thrust from Auckland University of Technology), the hip thrust is an excellent way to build your butt, reduce knee pain, support the spine, and improve speed and strength, powering you forward and helping you harness the force from other muscles.

Contreras has been seen thrusting over 700 pounds, and we’ve also noticed celebrities like Kate Upton performing the exercise and, just last week, none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson himself.

If you’re interested in giving it a try, here’s a clip from Bret “The Glute Guy” Contreras breaking down the fundamentals in extreme detail and pointing out the most common mistakes you should avoid.

No newbie to the exercise, Harrison was also seen thrusting 528 pounds (240 kilograms) last March, showing he’s built some serious thrusting power over the last year.

At 39 years old, Harrison has had a longer career on the field than most linebackers in the NFL, and last season alone he started seven games and had five sacks. We’re just wondering what he’s going to lift on his 40th birthday.

Featured image via @jhharrison92 on Instagram.

Nick English

Nick English

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of things.

After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.

No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?

Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.

At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

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