Whether you want to lift heavier, run faster, jump higher, or look your best, you must have powerful posterior chain muscles. The posterior chain is the group of muscles on the back of your body. They include hamstrings, erector spinae, and gluteus maximus. Of all the workouts you can do to strengthen your posterior chain muscles, the hip thrust is among the most popular.

The hip thrust is a versatile exercise that you can perform with Resistance Bands, Barbells, or using your bodyweight. You can also do this exercise using two legs or one, with your hips or shoulders elevated on a bench. A barbell hip thrust is easy to learn and doesn’t exert too much stress on your lower back. Besides, you don’t need much equipment to do barbell hip thrust.

However, as helpful as a barbell hip thrust can be, doing the same workout over and over again can become boring. Not only will excessive barbell hip thrusts make your exercise routine boring, but they could also make you less productive. Remember, the more often you perform a workout, even as good as a barbell hip thrust, the less potent the exercise becomes as you become accustomed to it.

Fortunately, there are many barbell hip thrust alternative exercises that you can do and still achieve the benefits of performing hip thrusts. These barbell hip thrust alternatives work the same group of muscles but differently, using a unique set of strength training equipment or no equipment. Whether you work out in a commercial gym or home gym, try various hip thrust alternative workouts.

The 10 Hip Thrust Alternative Workouts

These barbell hip thrust alternatives work the same muscle groups as a barbell hip thrust and usually offer the many benefits of this workout. Use them whenever you need a break from hip thrust but still want powerful posterior chain muscles.

1. Dumbbell Hip Thrust

The dumbbell hip thrust is a free weight variation of barbell hip thrust that targets the posterior chain and other muscle groups. This workout maintains the stabilization often seen in the barbell hip thrust exercise. While it does an excellent job working your hamstrings and glutes, you are likely to be limited by the size of the dumbbells that you can comfortably hold in your hip crease. 

With the dumbbell hip thrust, only a heavy dumbbell will feel comfortable as it rests on your hip bones. Therefore, it is recommended to place a medium-thick mat on your lap and place the dumbbell on top of it. This extra cushion on your hip bones will make the exercise more tolerable as you perform your reps.

How to do it

·         Get a padded step, box, or bench.

·         Find a heavy dumbbell, preferably more than 50lbs, and place it nearby on the floor.

·         Sit on the floor and keep your legs straight.

·         Now place the upper back against the bench behind you.

·         Then scoot your feet towards your gluteus maximus and dig your feet into the ground.

·         Lift the dumbbell and place it on your lap, with its heads lying across your hips.

·         Once ready, push your hips upwards as you drive your heels down.

·         Stop once your hips reach full extension.

·         Now lower yourself gently to your starting position.

2. Single Leg Hip Thrust

The single leg hip thrust is an outstanding barbell hip thrust alternative because it has a unilateral focus on one leg at a time and targets the same muscles as hip thrusts. As one of the excellent at-home hip thrust alternatives, This exercise is a widely underrated bodyweight exercise. Its unilateral emphasis placed on each leg makes an excellent alternative for lifters who often find bodyweight hip thrusts too easy.

Strong lifters may still need to perform high reps, probably more than 30 reps per set for each leg, to generate helpful adaptation. Some lifters often overthink the position of the non-working leg. Remember, you can keep it entirely straight during your set. Also, you can pull your knee up towards the chest while keeping the knee bent during the entire set.

Generally, single leg hip thrusts are an excellent unilateral exercise for helping identify any glute imbalances and developing your butt. Another workout that is almost similar to single leg hip thrust is the single leg hip bridge.

How to do it

·         Get a padded bench and dumbbells.

·         Grab a dumbbell (preferably more than 50lbs) and place it nearby.

·         Sit on the floor and keep your legs straight.

·         Place your upper back on the bench and scoot your feet towards the glutes.

·         Now lift the dumbbell and place it on your hip crease on the dominant leg side.

·         Once ready, lift the non-dominant leg off the ground and elevate it up to the hip joint.

·         Once your hip has reached full extension, stop, and lower yourself gently to the starting position.

·         Repeat the same amount of reps on the other leg.

3. Kettlebell Swings

You can do many exercises with a kettlebell. However, the two-handed kettlebell swing is one of the best workouts for your posterior chain muscles. Just like hip thrusts, it strengthens the posterior chain but builds explosive power too. Remember, power is the ability to generate force quickly and is an essential ingredient in many sports.

There are two primary ways to do kettlebell swings; the Russian swing and the American swing. The latter involves swinging the kettlebell up and overhead, while the Russian swing only raises the weight to your shoulder height. Both swings are suitable for the posterior chain, but the Russian option will be easier on your lower back. You can try both options and determine what works best for you.

How to do it

·         Hold the kettlebell down in front of you and stand with your feet hip width apart.

·         Now bend your knees slightly and swing the kettlebell between your legs.

·         Ensure the kettlebell swings upward to your shoulder height by thrusting the hips forward.

·         Keep your gluteal muscles contracted throughout the entire movement.

·         Bring the kettlebell down to your starting position.

·         Complete your preferred number of reps for the same movement pattern.  

4. Cable Pull Through

Also known as the glute pull through, cable pull through is a compound workout that targets the muscle groups in your posterior chain, including the gluteus maximus, lower back muscles, and hamstrings. With proper form, this workout promotes muscle growth and hypertrophy in your glutes. Also, cable pull throughs can help you practice hip hinge movements that are essential for other compound workouts, such as barbell hip thrust and the Romanian deadlift.

Note that a cable pull through and kettlebell swing use an almost similar movement, they’re different. For instance, you need a cable machine to perform cable pull throughs while a kettlebell swing requires kettlebell-free weights, making this exercise a perfect option for your home gym.

How to do it

·         Set your cable pulley machine to a low height setting.

·         Face away from the machine and reach in between your legs to hold the rope handle with both hands.

·         Take a couple of steps forward to shift the weight on the stack.

·         Keep your feet hip width apart and knees bent slightly. Also, your chin should stay tucked during the movement.

·         While maintaining a neutral spine, hinge your hips, start your upward movement as you push your feet into the floor until you are in a standing position.

·         Repeat for the desired number of reps.

5. Resistance Band Hip Thrust

The Resistance Band hip thrust is an outstanding hip thrust substitute as it effectively targets your glutes, and you can do it at your home gym. It does an excellent job developing your glutes, particularly when you perform this workout in the lockout position – this position engages the glutes most. However, the overall setup for resistance band hip thrust can be a significant deterrent to proper form. In most cases, you will need a power rack to secure the band ends effectively.

To get more benefits associated with this hip thrust alternative workout, you may want to add dumbbells (preferably more than 80 pounds each). Since you will use a power rack with band pegs, it is easy to add the dumbbells to your workout.

Just place two heavy dumbbells on the floor while ensuring you can sit between them. Place the ends of the band around the dumbbell handles and scoot under the resistance band. The dumbbells should be heavy enough that they stay in position as you drive your hips up.

How to do it

·         Get a padded bench, power rack, or box and heavy dumbbells.

·         Place a pair of heavy or medium bands on the floor.

·         Sit on the floor with your legs straight.

·         Now place your upper back on the padded bench behind you.

·         Then scoot your feet towards your glutes as you dig your feet into the ground.

·         Secure the resistance band on each peg such that the band crosses your lap.

·         If you are using heavy dumbbells, loop the band around the dumbbell handles.

·         Once ready, push your hips upwards until the hips are fully extended.

·         Then lower yourself in a controlled motion to your starting position.

6. Smith Machine Hip Thrust

The smith machine hip thrust is somewhat more specific compared to barbell hip thrusts, which means it targets the same muscle groups. This makes these hip thrusts remarkable hip thrust alternatives. When performing hip thrusts using the smith machine, you will be working the gluteal muscles, adductor Magnus, hamstrings, and supporting other muscle groups as the standard barbell hip thrust.

In fact, the machine negates any stabilization work that you would be subjected to. This is because the barbell will be on a set of tracks. For this reason, smith machine hip thrusts are much easier to load compared to standard barbells because the bar is elevated off the floor.

How to do it

·         Get a padded bench and place it a few feet away. Ensure the bench is parallel to the machine bar.

·         Sit on the floor with your feet straight.

·         Now place your upper back against the bench behind you.

·         Then scoot your feet towards the glutes while digging your feet into the ground.

·         Once ready, drive your hips upwards as you rotate the bar to disengage the catch mechanism.

·         Descend to your preferred depth and drive your hips upwards again.

·         Once your hips are fully extended, stop, then lower yourself to your starting position.

·         When you are finished with your set, engage the catches by rotating the machine bar.

7. Barbell Glute Bridge

The barbell glute bridge workout closely mimics a barbell hip thrust as it targets the gluteal muscle group and allows you to lift heavyweights. Although this exercise requires performing the same movement pattern as hip thrusts (hip extension), it doesn’t have your upper back elevated on a padded bench.

The main downside of the barbell glute bridge is the short range of motion. Remember, the bar isn’t moving far, which means you will need to add significantly more weight to achieve the desired impact on your glutes. Given the amount of the extra load needed, this variation may not be the best option if you are limited in the number of weights available or if you don’t have an appropriate pad to protect your hips.

How to do it

·         Place a loaded barbell in front of you (on the floor).

·         Sit down on the floor behind the loaded barbell.

·         Carefully roll the loaded barbell up towards your hips while laying on your back.

·         Now scoot your feet towards the glutes and dig your feet firmly into the floor.

·         Once ready, drive your hips upwards and stop once you have achieved full hip extension.

·         Carefully lower yourself in a controlled motion to your starting position.

8. Barbell Squat

Hip thrusts and the barbell squat are very similar workouts that are perfect for targeting your glutes. However, most experts believe that hip thrusts activate the glutes and hamstring muscles more compared to squats. This is because squats often use the quadriceps more than the glute muscles and hamstrings. For this reason, squats may not be the best exercise for effective glute building.

Fortunately, adding a loaded barbell to your squats can help you reap more benefits of the barbell squat. Be sure to warm up your shoulders and shoulder blades before you begin this workout. Remember, your hands must go back about three to four inches from the natural stopping point, which explains why you must warm-up before performing the barbell squat.

How to do it

·         Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart.

·         Hold a loaded barbell across your upper back (overhand grip) and avoid resting it on the neck.

·         Now hug the bar into the traps to engage the upper back muscles.

·         Carefully lower yourself into a squat position with your head up and back straight.

·         Once you achieve your desired squat position, drive your heels into the floor to push yourself up to your starting position.

9. Trap Bar Deadlift

The trap bar deadlift is simply a deadlift performed using a hex weight bar and a set of bumper plates. Note that you will start the workout inside the hex and bend down to hold the handles on either side. Once you get a proper grip, you can lift straight up to a standard deadlift. Note that a standard deadlift is performed with an Olympic barbell and a set of bumper plates.

Generally, the trap bar deadlift is often easier on your knees compared to squats. It’s also easier on your back muscles than deadlifts and hip thrusts. That means the trap bar deadlift offers the best of squats and deadlifts and the worst of none, making it a great lower body exercise. 

The trap bar pull resembles a cross between a deadlift and squat, but you can still make it whatever you desire it to be. For example, you can pull in a hip-dominant approach with a considerable torso inclination (lean forward). You can also stay upright and make it more of a front squat. This exercise will strengthen your hamstrings, lower back muscles, and glutes.

How to do it

·         Stand upright in front of a trap bar with the feet hip width apart and your toes pointed out.

·         With your knees bent slightly, grab the bar with both hands (slightly outside of your legs)

·         Lift the bar off the floor by pushing your heels to achieve full hip extension. Be sure to keep your back flat.

10. Bodyweight Hip Thrust

The bodyweight hip thrust is one of the at-home hip thrust alternatives because it targets the same muscles. With this exercise, you should drive your hips upwards while having your mid-back leaning against a padded bench. Remember, bodyweight hip thrusts don’t require weights, which means you can perform them anywhere you can find back support, even if it’s your couch at home.

The lack of external weights makes bodyweight hip thrusts much easier than the standard barbell hip thrust. Therefore, it is recommended to achieve full hip extension by contracting your glutes and holding it for a count pause at the lockout position. Doing this will engage your glutes and hamstrings as much as possible while maintaining consistency with your reps.

How to do it

·         Get a padded bench

·         Sit on the floor and keep your legs straight.

·         Now place your upper back against the bench behind you.

·         Then scoot your towards the glutes while digging your feet on the floor.

·         Once ready, drive your hips upwards as you push your heels down.

·         Once you achieve full hip extension, stop and lower yourself gently to your starting position.


Effective hip thrust alternatives target a similar group of muscles, majorly focusing on the adductor Magnus muscles, glutes and hamstrings. All factors considered, the best hip thrust alternative will depend on the equipment and spaces available and whether you prefer a banded, bodyweight, machine, or free-weighted variation to replace the standard hip thrusts or the Bulgarian split squat.

Similar Posts