Most trainers would recommend the trusty squats for powering up on glutes and thighs but the Barbell Hip Thrust exercise is effective not just in building up your glute strength and mass, but also in working out tight hip flexors and poor movement mechanics. Moreover, the hip-pumping exercise addresses the issues in deadlifting, squats, and other movements that require strong hip drives such as cleans and snatches.
And since your glutes are more than just a nice fill in your pants, it is important to pay attention to the movement and form while performing the exercise. Before you slide under the barbell, the right positioning should be learned. Let’s break down everything you need to know to unlock your strong glute potential.
This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:
- How To Hip Thrust with Barbell
- Barbell Hip Thrust Benefits
- Common Barbell Hip Thrust Mistakes To Avoid
- Barbell Hip Thrust Muscles Worked
- Barbell Hip Thrust vs Glute Bridge
- Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, & Programs
- Barbell Hip Thrust Variations
- Barbell Hip Thrust Alternative Exercises
- FAQs About Barbell Hip Thrust
How To Hip Thrust with Barbell
What You’ll Need:
- Sit-up bench or hip thrust machine: You need either of these equipment to support your body weight when performing barbell hip thrusts.
- Barbell with weighted plates or clamps on either side: A barbell is necessary to add tension to the exercise and cause your glutes and other muscles to contract.
- Hip thrust pad – to protect yourself from bruising and assist with the pressure of the weights on your hips
- Chairs: If you don’t have access to a sit-up bench or hip thrust machine, you can use any chair at home. Just make sure that it’s stable and can support your body weight and the barbell
Step 1: Use Padding
Put a reliable hip thrust pad around your barbell shaft to prevent it from causing pain and digging into your hips as you start to thrust. This is highly important, especially if you don’t have any experience performing the barbell hip thrust.
Step 2: Position Your Body To The Bench
Position your upper back on the bench with the barbell across your hips and the legs extended. Keep your feet flat on the ground at hip-distance apart with your knees bent.
Step 3: Drive Your Hips Up
Take a deep breath, brace your core, and start pressing from your feet powerfully while squeezing your glutes to extend your hips. Slowly drive your hips upward while engaging your core and abs. Refrain from using your upper and lower body to complete the move. You should only rely on your core and abs to maintain proper form and remain stable throughout this step.
Coach’s Tip: Do not drive your hips way higher than your shoulder as this might injure your lower back. Squeeze your glutes as hard as possible. You may reposition yourself if your upper body shifts during the exercise or the bench slide out of position.
Step 4: Hold The Peak And Slowly Lower Down The Barbell
Once you reach the top of the move, squeeze your glutes, hold the move for a couple of seconds,, and slowly lower to the starting position. Take as much time as you need to return to the starting position. Don’t rush, as you might lose your form and put unnecessary stress on your upper and lower back.
Step 5: Repeat The Movement
Repeat steps one to four until you achieve your desired number of reps. Ideally, aim for at least three sets of 8 reps. You may increase the load as you get stronger.
5 Barbell Hip Thrust Benefits
1. Improves Bone Density
Weight-bearing exercises, such as barbell hip thrusts, are scientifically proven to improve bone density and strengthen bones. Whenever you perform the standard hip thrust with a loaded barbell, your muscles and tendons apply tension to your bones, stimulating the bones to create more bone tissues. As a result, your bones become denser and stronger.
2. Enhances Mobility
Daily activities, such as getting and sitting down on a chair and walking upstairs, requires your hip extensor muscles (this muscle group compromises your hamstrings and glutes) to work. Adding barbell hip thrusts into your exercise routine can strengthen this muscle group, making it easier for you to perform daily activities, including walking, sitting, running, and keeping your balance.
3. Improves Athletic Performance
The barbell hip thrust is one of the most effective exercises to help build your glutes and hip extensors. Targeting these muscles will help you run faster, jump higher, and accelerate and decelerate better. These benefits can positively contribute to your athletic performance.
4. Supports Better Posture
Having weak glutes can trigger lower back pain and posture problems. When you perform barbell hip thrusts regularly, you can prevent this problem from occurring as the exercise mitigates your sacrum (the triangular bone at the bottom of your lumbar vertebrae) from being pulled in a tucked position. This exercise also balances out tight hip flexors. This results in stronger glutes, leading to a better, more relaxed posture.
5. Builds Glute Hypertrophy, Power, and Strength
If you want to build glute hypertrophy, power, and strength, barbell hip thrusts are one of your best bets. Perform this exercise using a heavy barbell to build more glute strength or a lighter barbell for better glute endurance. You can also perform the exercise with one leg for improved unilateral strength.
Common Barbell Hip Thrust Mistakes to Avoid
Placing feet too close to the butt
The most common mistake lifters make when performing the barbell hip thrust is placing their feet too close to the butt. This will limit your movement and will eventually cause pain and discomfort on your knees. Prevent this from happening by making sure that your knees create a 90-degree angle when your hips are in full extension.
Overextending the lower back
Another mistake beginners make when performing barbell hip thrusts is overextending the lumbar in an attempt to compensate for the hip extension. If you notice your lower back is getting sore whenever you regularly perform the exercise, improve your hip extension mechanics and lower the weight of your barbell. Aim to keep your rib cage down when performing the exercise and avoid letting them flare up at the top when you achieve hip extension.
Coming up unto the toes
Some individuals have the tendency to rise up unto the balls of their feet at the top of the movement. This usually happens for two reasons: either you’re a quad-dominant or off your foot placement. One easy way to fix this problem is to reassess your foot position and ensure that they form a 90-degree angle at the top. Then, work on focusing on your heel contact throughout the movement.
Not doing the full range of motion
Stopping short of thighs parallel to the ground won’t activate all of your glutes, making the exercise less effective. Once this mistake becomes a habit, your risk of getting injured when exercising also increases, to fix, aim for a 90-degree angle with your legs.
Barbell Hip Thrust Muscles Worked
Adding barbell hip thrusts to your workout routine targets the following muscle groups:
- Primary hip extensors (including gluteus maximus and hamstrings)
- Secondary hip extensors (including gluteus medius and gluteal muscles)
Your glutes muscles are the primary movers during the hip thrust, with the gluteus maximus handling most of the demands. The gluteus medius is also activated during the exercise to stabilize the pelvis and assist in hip extensions. Your hamstrings, on the other hand, are responsible for providing stability to both the knee and hip joints. The adductors work isometrically to stabilize your pelvis during hip extensions.
Barbell Hip Thrust vs Glute Bridge
The biggest difference between the two exercises is that the barbell hip thrust is weighted while the glute bridge isn’t. This makes the barbell hip thrust more effective when it comes to glute activation and muscle growth, which can help prepare you for other lifting exercises, such as squats and deadlifts.
Since barbell hip thrusts involve placing your upper back on a low bench, this exercise allows a greater range of motion through the hips. This is something you can’t experience when you perform glute bridges, as the exercise will require you to place your back flat on the floor.
Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs
To Gain More Muscles
If you want to perform the barbell hip thrusts to increase glute size and achieve muscular hypertrophy, perform five sets of 12 reps using moderate to heavyweight. Use weight plates that allow you to control the eccentric phase of the exercise and hold a brief pause once you reach full hip extension. Rest one minute in between sets.
To Gain Strength
You can also add the barbell hip thrust into your exercise routine to gain strength. To achieve this goal, perform five sets of eight reps using heavy loads. The weight should enable you to focus on your glute muscles during heavy lifting and not rely on your lower back for assistance.
To Improve Muscle Endurance
You can also improve your muscle endurance by regularly training your glutes in a moderate to higher rep range. Perform three sets of 20 reps, making sure to maintain full glute extension throughout each set. Aim to gradually increase the number of reps as your glute muscles are roughly 50-50 fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers. This means you should train in different rep ranges for the best development.
Barbell Hip Thrust Variations
Once you’ve mastered the barbell hip thrusts, it’s time to take on other variations. These exercises can keep your exercise routine fun and challenging, giving you the motivation to continue working out.
Single-Leg Hip Thrust
The single-leg hip thrust is an excellent unilateral exercise that helps you focus on improving your strength, power, and balance, one leg at a time. Since it’s a unilateral exercise, the single-leg hip thrust can also target weak points or areas where one side needs to catch up on the other side. You should definitely try this exercise if you want to fix muscle imbalances.
The glute bridge is slightly different from the barbell hip thrust because it reduces your range of motion. This makes glute bridges an ideal primer for individuals working towards loaded barbell hip thrusts.
Single-Leg Glute Bridge
As a direct progression to the traditional glute bridges, single-leg glute bridges are also an excellent option for working towards hip thrusts. The movements of this exercise are also great for assessing potential imbalances between your left and right hip.
Bodyweight Hip Thrust
What makes the bodyweight hip thrust great is it doesn’t require any equipment. As the name suggests, you’ll solely rely on your body weight to perform this exercise and experience its benefits. If you want to focus on shaping and strengthening your backside but don’t have access to any equipment, performing the bodyweight hip thrust is the best way to go.
Frog Hip Thrusts
Frog hip thrusts target the same muscles as a standard hip thrust but target the gluteus medius and other hip abductors more. Additionally, frog hip thrusts work your glute muscles without any additional load, making the exercise easier and safer for many beginners.
Barbell Hip Thrust Alternatives
Looking for some Alternatives to barbell hip thrusts? We’ve got you covered. We’ve listed below some of the best alternatives you can do instead of hip thrusts.
Banded Hip Extension
Either performed from a standing or kneeling position, the banded hip extension is a good alternative to lighter hip thrusts for maximum glute activation. We highly recommend this alternative if you want to achieve muscular hypertrophy but don’t want to lift weights.
If you don’t have any concerns or problems with your lower back, good mornings are perfect. This exercise aims to maximize hamstrings and glute growth while using movements similar to deadlifts and squats.
Cable Pull Through
For this exercise, you will need a Cable Machine and rope handle attachment. Aside from being able to tailor this exercise to fit your needs (as you can change the weight settings of the machine), this exercise also focuses on your posterior chain, meaning it helps tone your hamstrings and glutes. We recommend this exercise if you want to increase your time under tension and overall muscular activation.
You can perform Romanian Deadlifts to improve the size and strength of your glutes. This alternative is more apt for experienced lifters because maintaining the proper positioning of the back requires practice. But if you’re willing to train, this exercise can become your key to achieving maximal hamstring and glute hypertrophy.