The barbell hip thrust is a popular intermediate exercise for developing and strengthening your glutes. Alongside glute bridge variations, these exercises are classified as bent-knee hip extension exercises. By bending your knees during hip extension, you reduce the amount of force that your hamstrings can produce, forcing your glutes to work as the primary hip extensors.
Because you place the bar across your hips during hip thrusts and glute bridges, you will load the hip extension horizontally. This horizontal load vector has a great transfer to athletic movements. Load vector is when the direction in which you are producing force closely resembles such activities as sprinting and propelling yourself forward. This also loads your glutes efficiently in their fully shortened position. This leads to more tension and more muscle growth.
Unlike glute bridges, which take place on the floor, hip thrusts are performed with your back positioned on a step or bench. This allows your shins to remain vertical for a larger portion of the movement and for an increased range of motion. Because of the increased range of motion, you might find barbell glute bridging on the floor a better option if you struggle with hip-hinging mechanics. However, if you want to target and strengthen your glutes effectively, include hip thrusts in your training plan.
Exercise instructions – proper form for barbell hip thrust
STARTING POSITION (SETUP):
- Sit with the hips on the floor and both legs extended. Align the upper back across a secure padded bench or box. Position a well-padded barbell over the lower legs.
- Lean forward to grab the barbell and, if the size of the weight plates allow, roll the barbell over the thighs toward the hips. The barbell is positioned symmetrically at the crease of the hips slightly above the pelvis.
- Lean back to assume proper placement of the upper back and shoulders on the padded bench. Slide your feet toward buttocks, keeping them at shoulder width and keeping the knees flexed to 90 degrees, assuming a vertically positioned tibia.
- Lift the barbell off the floor by extending the hips using the gluteal muscles while simultaneously keeping the spine and hips in a neutral position (no excessive arching of the back). The extension movement that lifts the bar must come from the hips and not from the low back.
Barbell hip thrust: video demonstration
This video will show you exactly how to perform barbell hip thrusts using perfect technique (proper form) so that you can get the most out of this great exercise that targets your glutes.
Additional tips – performance pointers for barbell hip thrust
- The back of the shoulder should have firm support on the padded bench. The cervical spine (neck) should not be the main support during the exercise.
Here are all the muscles involved while performing the barbell hip thrust exercise.
- Primary muscles involved: Gluteus maximus, hamstrings (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris), adductor magnus;
- Secondary muscles involved: Gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, erector spinae (iliocostalis, longissimus, spinalis), quadriceps (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius);
- Hip Bridge. If, sore some reason, barbell hip thrust is too demanding for you, hip bridge will do the job. Lie on your back (face up) with your knees bent and your feet planted firmly on the floor. Lift your hips until your body is resting on your feet and shoulders only. This is an easy exercise for beginners, or it can be used as a safe, comfortable warm-up, as no weights can be used. If you want to increase intensity, you can extend one leg and lift your torso and upper legs using one leg only.
- Dumbbell hip thrust. This is another excellent barbell hip thrust alternative as it’s a comparable free-weight variation that also targets the same posterior chain muscles.
- Single-leg hip thrust. Lie with your upper back resting on a bench and your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Lift your left foot off the ground, then raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. At the top of the rep your left thigh should be perpendicular to the floor. Hold for a count and then slowly return to the starting position. Don’t let your left foot touch the ground between reps.
- Cable Pull-Through Exercise
- Glute bridge and its variations
- Mini Band Lateral Walk
- Reverse Hyperextension
- Standing Hip Flexion
- Cable Hip Adduction
- Cable Hip Abduction
- Standing Hip Extension
- Machine Hip Adduction (Standing)
- Standing Machine Hip Abduction
- Seated Hip Abduction (Machine Hip Abductions)
- Seated Hip Adduction