Hands-down hip thrust is the best glute training exercise out there. Compared to squats, lunges, and deadlifts hip thrusts activates the glutes at a much higher rate. Many are seeing the benefits of adding hip thrust to their routines, and as a result, the hip thrusts are rapidly increasing in popularity. We have rounded up the main hip thrust variations and alternations for an epic booty burn and pump!
What is a Hip Thrust?
Let’s start with the basics, the hip thrust is a horizontally-loaded lower body compound movement that works the hip extensors: glute and hamstring muscles. The hip thrust is like a glute bridge the only difference is that the back is resting on the bench to help increase the range of motion. The hip thrust is a bent leg hip extension exercise that keeps consistent tension on the hips with a maximum contraction on the gluteus maximus.
If you want to learn more about to hip thrust and how it has become the ultimate glute building exercise, make sure to check out my post on why the hip thrust is a must.
Hip Thrust Form
Before experimenting with variations you want to get your form down first because without the proper form you will lack glute activation. Try performing bodyweight hip thrust before adding any resistance.
- Start with your shoulder blades against a bench, and your arms spread across it for stability.
- Bend your knees to about 90 degrees, and make sure your feet are flat on the floor.
- Take a big breath in, blow your air out fully, and brace your core.
- Squeeze your glutes, lift up your hips, and hold a second or two and repeat.
Tip: It’s very important that you don’t hyperextend your lower back at the top to prevent this make sure your neck stays neutral as you lift yourself off the floor and Don’t let your head drop back.
Hip Thrust Essentials
In order to perform a hip thrust, you will need something sturdy that will provide elevation. If you are performing bodyweight hip thrust you can use something like a chair or even a couch but as you start adding heavier weight you will need a bench to provide you with the proper support, the same goes for padding.
As you can see in the image below I am performing banded bodyweight hip thrust using a chair.
Look for a bench that is suited for your height. The optimal bench height to perform hip thrust is 16″, but I find that my body aligns the best with a 14″ bench and I am 5’4. So look for a bench that is suited for your height but if you are having a hard time finding the right bench you can always elevate your feet using a step up or some plated weights.
Incorporating heavier hip thrust can become painful. To prevent bruising on your hips make sure to protect them by putting some padding between your hips and the bar. You can fold a yoga matt and use that or you can get yourself a balance foam pad. I like the barbell pad because it is effective and simple to use, it will stay put and won’t move out place. I have done 285 pounds using this pad with no pain or bruising, I highly recommend this item.
Hip Thrust Variations
Once you start feeling comfortable with the movement you can then move on and start experimenting with different variations.
The hip thrust is increasing and will continue to increase in popularity, and because of it there is A LOT of hip thrust variations on the internet. To be more exact according to Bret Contreras aka the Glute Guy, there are a total of 1,728 hip thrust variations – Wow that’s a lot!
Ultimately all of these variations come down to include one of the 3 main variations:
- Barbell Hip Thrust
- Banded Hip Thrust
- Single Leg Hip Thrust
Hip Thrust Alterations
With the three main variations mentioned above, there are three ways you can alter these movements that are able to provide you with a different variation each time.
- Foot Elevation: You can choose to keep your feet on the floor or you can elevate your feet using an aerobic stepper or even some weighted plates.
- Load: From a barbell, bands, kettlebell, dumbbell, chains, or just bodyweight these are all different options you can use to add resistance to your hip thrust.
- Reps: Play with different rep styles such as clusters, constant tension reps, pause reps, rest-pause reps, speed reps, iso-holds, or 1.5 reps.
As you choose to perform one of the main variations you can choose to use one of the alterations or even all three of the alterations at the same time.
I highly recommend for you to experiment and see what fires YOUR glutes the most.
Here are some variations I personally love and have incorporated in my routine.
- Barbell Hip Thrust
To protect your hips from any bruising you can use a yoga matt by folding it in 4 parts or you can also get yourself a barbell pad.
2. Barbell hip thrust using a pre-loaded bar, I like to use a pre-loaded bar on my low volume high-rep days.
3. Barbell Hip Thrust with a band around knees, personally I always use a band when performing any type of hip thrust, I love the constant tension it keeps on my glutes throughout the whole movement.
4. Barbell Hip Thrust using the Smith Machine, this is a great variation when there are now free bars available.
5. Banded Hip ThrustBanded Hip Thrust using the hamstring curl machine, this variation is great when you are running short on time and don’t want to waste any additional time setting up.
6. Banded Hip Thrust using a kettlebell/dumbbell, this is also a great variation to perform on low volume high-rep days.
If you are in search of some mini bands, here are the bands I use on a daily basis.
7. Elevated Banded Hip thrust with a plate
8. Single Leg Hip Thrust, performing unilateral exercises helps balance things out and prevents muscle imbalances. Therefore, if you are currently performing hip thrusts or soon plan to make sure to incorporate single leg hip thrust in your routine.
9. B-stance Hip Thrust: This my favorite single leg variation the b-stance helps me stay stabilized through the whole movement especially when using a barbell.
Performing hip thrust might be embarrassing at first, but as you continually practice performing this movement you will start feeling more comfortable and your glutes will love you for it. The hip thrust is truly one of the BEST glute training exercises out there, but it’s important to note that it is not the ONLY ONE. For the best glute development, you must remember to incorporate different ranges of motion.