Wanting to grow your glutes like never before? Then there is one movement in your leg day that is a non-negotiable — hip thrusts. They’re the ULTIMATE booty building exercise, and there are endless variations to get the activation you need for growth.
The hip thrust is a movement that you want to get right. Proper form means you can get the most out of the movement, and in turn, get the booty gains you’re after.
We teamed up with exercise scientist and strength and conditioning coach Bradley Drake to find out how to do the perfect hip thrust!
What are the benefits of doing a hip thrust?
What separates hip thrusts from other compound movements like a squat or a deadlift is glute activation. A hip thrust has high glute activation for the entirety of the movement, from the bottom to the top, start until finish. While a squat has good activation of the glutes at the bottom of the movement, and the deadlift activates the glutes at the top of the lift when you reach full hip extension, the hip thrust does both. You know what to do.
The beautiful thing about the hip thrust is the biomechanics of the exercise. With your knees bent, and the weight stacked directly on your hips, you’ll experience greater activation of your glutes throughout the whole lift.
We are hyping it up a lot, but the hip thrust is a fantastic glute exercise when you’re looking to strengthen and build lean muscle tissue in this area. Generally when we squat and deadlift, the limiting factor will be core stability, which in turn leads to failures in technique. Don’t let that deter you however, because if you’re wanting strength and hypertrophy gains, the fatigue is actually ideal!
While the most common hip thrust you’ll see is a barbell hip thrust, there are numerous variations of the movement. We’ve done a deep dive into the differences and what they are useful for below:
Bodyweight Hip Thrust
Where it all begins. You have to earn the right to load up, and that goes for all exercises. Master the movement pattern first under minimal load (bodyweight, or a lighter dumbbell if you’re feeling ready), learn what to feel and what areas to switch on. Patience is key and you have to start somewhere!
Barbell Hip Thrust
This is the progression of a bodyweight hip thrust! Using a barbell is a great way to isolate your glutes and increase strength through your hips. Regularly performing barbell hip thrusts is a great translation into athletic performance, particularly in acceleration and power. Be sure to use in conjunction with other lower body compound movements to get the most out of your training.
Single Leg Bodyweight Hip Thrust
A good stepping stone if you’re not comfortable putting heavy loads on your hips yet. By going onto one leg, we are increasing the load significantly. Super set this with a heavy compound lower body lift (like a squat or deadlift), and those glutes of yours are sure to get fired up.
Banded Hip Thrust
There’s a bit of debate going on in the strength and conditioning world about the use of bands around the knees for lower body movements. Bradley’s take is, use a band if you’re having issues with keeping your knees inline with your feet when performing a hip thrust. The band will cue you to put pressure on the band and avoid inward knee positioning. However once you nail this without the use of the band, Bradley suggests getting rid of it.
So how do I perform the perfect hip thrust?
Set yourself up with your upper back placed on the bench in a position that is comfortable for you. This would generally be just below your shoulder blades (depending on torso length it may be easier for you to use a lower bench option or a low box). The bar should be positioned on your hips. Pro tip, use padding for extra comfort. Place your feet wider than hip width apart with your toes slightly pointing out and take the load of the bar.
Before every rep, draw a deep breath in to create pressure within the abdomen and brace your core. Once in position, drive the bar up towards the ceiling, focusing on squeezing your glutes as tightly as possible. Push through your heels rather than the balls of your feet. Learn the feeling, master it, and move on.
Make sure you get a full hip extension at the top of the lift and hold for a count of 1-2 seconds. This is to maximise glute activation and create a strong connection between the brain and the muscle itself. Take note of what angle your shins are at, as they should be perpendicular to the floor. After your full contraction, slowly lower back down to the start position while releasing your breath and prepare to repeat the movement again.
Bradley shared with us some of the common mistakes people tend to make when performing a deadlift.
“I’m feeling it my quads”: You’re pushing through the balls of your feet and not through your heels. Your feet may be too close to your body.
“I’m feeling it in my hamstrings”: Your feet are likely too far away, try bringing them in a little bit and avoid trying to pull your feet towards you through the lift. Push through your heels!
“I’m feeling it in my lower back”: Your glutes aren’t doing the work. Master with a lighter load before moving up. You may need some work on creating a better connection from your brain to your glutes. The only way to do this is to learn how to properly engage your glutes with little to no load. Some exercises include glute bridges, banded crab walks, lateral walks, banded seated hip abduction, and bodyweight hip thrusts.
It doesn’t end there! To perform the perfect hip thrust, you’ll need some functional threads that move with you too. Gals, level up your hip thrusts with our buttery soft, super stretchy Elevate Leggings. They provide ultimate comfort, and are perfect for those sweaty, hip thrusting sessions. Pair them with the Elevate Sports Bra to keep you secured and locked in place.
For the guys, nothing beats a pair of gym shorts that are comfortable and lightweight for a solid leg sesh. You can find all those qualities and more with our Duty Shorts! Pair them with the Duty T-Shirt for a complete, lightweight combo to keep you fresh.
A big thank you to exercise scientist and strength and conditioning coach Bradley Drake for the super useful information!