How to Do the Hip Thrust – Benefits, Variations & Common Mistakes

Hip thrusts are a premiere exercise for building the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and lower back. The benefits of hip thrusts include increased strength and power in the glutes and hips, improved athletic performance, and improved posture. Hip thrusts can also help prevent lower back pain and injury by strengthening the muscles that support the lower back. They also can increase overall muscle mass and definition in the glutes, all while sparing the spine from load.

How to Perform the Hip Thrust Exercise

The hip thrust exercise can be performed using a variety of fitness equipment

with the technique remaining similar no matter which loading option is used. The barbell hip thrust is the most popular variation since barbells provide symmetric loading and can balance on the waist during work sets quite well.

The barbell hip thrust exercise technique:

  • Sit on the floor with the glute box behind you and weight across your hips.
  • With bodyweight, barbell, resistance bands, or any other object weight lying across the waist, push through your heels and thrust the hips upward while keeping your back against the glute builder box.
  • Lift the hips upward until a straight line is created from the shoulders to the knees.
  • Lower down with control before starting the next repetition.
  • * Note: Hip thrusts can be modified for a supine floor position.

Hip Thrust Benefits

The primary benefit of hip thrust exercise is increased strength and power in the glutes and hips. The glutes are the largest and most powerful muscle group in the body and are essential for many athletic movements, such as running, jumping, and throwing.

Research has shown that the barbell hip thrust exercise effectively increases gluteal muscle activation and thus can lead to improved athletic performance.

This workout can also improve posture by strengthening the muscles that support the lower back. Poor posture is often caused by weak glutes and lower back muscles, leading to back pain and injury. The hip thrust exercise can help to prevent these issues by strengthening the muscles that support the lower back.

In addition to the above benefits, the barbell hip thrust exercise also increases overall muscle mass and definition in the glutes. Research has shown that the barbell hip thrust exercise effectively increases muscle growth and can lead to a more toned and aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Like all resistance training exercises, the hip thrust workout can cause strain or injury if not executed correctly. Maintaining proper form throughout the movement and focusing on technique are essential. One of the best strategies for grooving mechanics and acclimating to the demands of the hip thrusts is starting with light weight. Over time, gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable and stronger.

Exercises and workouts

Hip thrusts have many exercise variations, similar to other compound movements. Here's a list of our favourite exercises.

  1. Barbell Hip Thrust: This is the most common hip thrust variation, performed by placing a barbell across the hips and pushing through the heels to lift the hips toward the ceiling. Your back can be positioned against the glute box or the glute builder, both are ideal for perform the is most commonly resting on a bench but we prefer the box for higher stability and comfort.

  2. Bodyweight Hip Thrust: This exercise is performed by placing the shoulders on the Glute box or the Glutebuilder Meraki, and your driving through your heels to lift the hips towards the ceiling. This exercise can be executed with one or two legs. Both apparatus allow for a full range of motion effort, as the height of each piece of equipment is calibrated for hip thrust training.

  3. Supported Barbell Glute Bridge: This exercise is performed with the back on the floor and a barbell across the hips. The Meraki is a perfect equipment choice for glute bridge exercise variations, as it allows you to position yourself comfortably on the floor, roll the barbell to the waist using weight plates, or, loop resistance bands to the bar for a unique loading stimulus.

  4. Single-Leg Glute Bridge: This exercise is performed from a laying floor position, barbell across the hips. The Glutebuilder Meraki works fantastic for this exercise with using light-medium resistance bands attached to the bar. One leg hovers freely while the other drives into the floor to lift the hips upward. Repeat for reps.
  5. Bodyweight Single-Leg Hip Thrust: This unilateral variation can be performed by placing the shoulders on the Glute box or the Meraki for comfort, stability and full range of motion glute work. One leg is lifted off the ground while the other leg pushes through the heel to lift the hip towards the ceiling.

  6. Dumbbell Weighted Hip Thrust: With your back against the Glutebuilder box, position the dumbbell across the hips, and push through the heels to lift the hips towards the ceiling. If using lighter weight, aim to perform higher reps with slow eccentric decents to maximize the time under tension. 
  7. Glute Bridge - Feet Elevated & Knees. Position your feet on the Glutebuilder Meraki or the glute box, with your back and shoulders on the floor.  Push through the heels to lift the hips toward the ceiling, maintain a flat back and straight line from knee to shoulder at the top of the exercise.  With the Glutebuilder Meraki, adding resistance to the exercise is simple.  Dumbbell, barbells or resistance bands attached to the machine allow for progressive resistance and more gains. 

  8. Donkey Kicks: Donkey Kicks are a deceptively difficult unilateral exercise that are perfect for the Glutebuilder Meraki.  Attached a large resistance band to either side of the apparatus.  From a modified kneeling position with elbows resting against the support pad, place the band in the middle of working foot.  Drive the bottom of the foot up toward the ceiling as far as possible, holding for a 2-3 count at full extension.  Lower slowly and repeat the steps. 

    The donkey kick works the glutes

The difference between the hip thrust and glute bridge is the positioning of the back, which influences the range of motion and muscle engagement. Hip thrusts position the back against a glute box or weight bench while the glute bridge is performed while lying on the floor. The glute bridge becomes extremely valuable when gym resources are limited, as they can be performed anywhere using weighted or bodyweight-only variations. What's the best exercise on the list? All of them!

Integrating a combination of different hip thrust (and bridge) exercises, such as hip thrust machines, bodyweight, and barbell, can provide variation and keep training fresh. In the next section, we'll overview the benefits of machine-based hip thrust training.

Benefits of Hip Thrust Machines

So what about machines? Over the last few years, several different hip thrust machines have entered the marketplace. The new multifunctional glute training machine – Meraki has many notable benefits, a machine specifically designed for performing hip thrusts with bodyweight or a barbell:

  1. Increased stability: The Glutebuilder Meraki provides a stable and secure platform for the exercise, which can help to prevent injury and improve the effectiveness of the exercise.
  2. Targeted muscle activation: The Meraki is designed to specifically target the glutes, which can help to increase muscle activation and lead to greater muscle growth.
  3. Adjustability: The Meraki allows for adjustments in resistance, angle, and foot placement, which can allow for a greater variety of exercises and target different muscle groups. With more than 50 exercises for glutes and legs.
  4. Ease of use: The hip thrust machine is easy to use with or without weights and can be adjusted to accommodate different fitness levels and body types.
  5. Reduced stress on the lower back: This machines reduce the stress on the lower back, which can help to prevent injury. This is particularly beneficial for people with lower back pain or injury.
  6. Consistency: They provide a consistent and precise range of motion, which can help to improve form and muscle activation.
  7. Versatility with compact design: The hip thrust machine can be used for a variety of exercises, including squats, lunges, and glute bridges, which can help to target different muscle groups and improve overall fitness. It also allows you to save space and money in having to use multiple equipment.
  8. Safe and effective: The Meraki Glutebuilder provides a safe and effective way to target the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles and can be used by all fitness levels.

Common Mistakes with Hip Thrusts Overall

  1. Poor Body/Foot Position: It's important to keep your back against the bench and to push through your heels when performing the exercise. The movement becomes quad-dominant if the feet are too close to the hips.  If the feet are stretched too far out from the hips, you'll put yourself in a mechanically disadvantaged position, resulting in limited training for the hamstrings and glutes.  Not maintaining proper form can lead to injury and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.
  2. Rounding the lower back: Rounding the lower back can put unnecessary stress on the spine and lead to injury. It's important to maintain a neutral spine position throughout the exercise. Extend the hips, and keep the back straight. 
  3. Not engaging the glutes: Many people perform hip thrusts attempting to leverage the quad muscle, not the glutes; the exercise should focus on the glutes and hamstrings.
  4. Not keeping the weight in the correct position: The weight should be positioned across the hips, not the stomach or lower back.
  5. Not using a box/bench or pad to support the back: Lying on the ground doesn't provide enough support for the lower back. Using a bench or pad can help maintain proper form and prevent injury.
  6. Not warming up properly: Before performing hip thrusts, it's important to warm up the muscles properly to prevent injury. This can include a light cardio warm-up and dynamic stretching. Any resistance training exercise deserves a proper warm-up beforehand.
  7. Not focusing on the eccentric movement:The eccentric or lowering phase is as important as the concentric movement (lifting phase) in building muscle and strength. Slow down and control the descent of each repetition.

It's essential to be aware of these common mistakes when performing hip thrusts and to focus on proper form and technique to get the most out of the exercise and prevent injury.

The hip thrust is one of the best exercises for targeting the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and lower back. Many high-level coaches and trainers consider hip thrusts to be a compound movement pattern, as important to develop as squats and deadlifts.  Hip thrusts can increase strength and power in the posterior chain, improve athletic performance, posture, and boost muscle mass and definition. As with all resistance training, it's important to maintain proper form and technique when performing the hip thrust exercise.

Bookmark this guide for future review, and don't hesitate to contact the Stronger Wellness team for more information about any of our fitness equipment and further enquiries you may have.  


About Stronger Wellness 

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