More and more women are hearing about barbell hip thrusts as a way to build their glutes without ending up with huge quadriceps. Many of us find it insanely satisfying to see our glutes transformed and feel the sheer power of lifting a lot of iron with our hips.
I assure you that even most guys aren’t doing the hip thrust, and when they see you crushing it they’ll be intrigued as they try not to look. Rest assured that this exercise is not as involved as it looks so there’s no need to feel intimidated.
When you get down to it, the hip thrust is a close cousin of the glute bridge, a bodyweight exercise you’ve probably done yourself. I use the glute bridge with almost all my new clients as a way to wake up the glutes and teach proper hip extension. People are usually surprised at how deceptively difficult this exercise is. It requires a lot of lumbopelvic stability and core strength to raise your hips while keeping your upper body on the floor, and this is a good thing. Your body is learning to keep your torso and pelvis in optimal alignment, which will help protect your spine during sports or any physical activity.
Once a client is able to knock out three sets of 12-15 reps with ease, they’ll move on to single-leg floor bridges or elevating the shoulders, which provides more range of motion and core activation. From there we can raise both the shoulders and feet, engaging the hamstrings a bit more, and finally to single-leg thrusts with shoulders elevated and one foot raised. A client is usually ready to move on to barbell hip thrusts after this progression. Starting barbell hip thrusts on the floor is also an option if a client doesn’t have the core strength to perform them with elevated shoulders just yet.
Check out this video showing the basic progression:
- Lie on the floor with your knees bent. Lift your hips off the floor until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line.
- Hold for 2 -3 seconds, contracting your glutes at the top and engaging your core muscles. Do not let your back hyperextend.
- Lower your hips until they’re almost to the floor and repeat.
Barbell Hip Thrust
- Begin seated on the ground with a bench directly behind you. Have a loaded barbell over your legs. Use a pad to take the pressure off your pelvis during the exercise. If needed, stack plates under each end so the barbell can roll over your legs (pictured above).
- Roll the bar so that it is directly above your hips, and lean back against the bench so that your shoulder blades are near the top of it. Be sure the bench is anchored and won’t move. (Leaning against a chest press bench can be a good option; just make sure your bench isn’t so high that you can’t stabilize yourself safely.)
- Drive through your feet, extending your hips vertically through the bar. Your weight should be supported by your shoulder blades and your feet. Extend your hips as far as possible, contracting your glutes at the top and without hyperextending your low back. Return to the starting position.
When using bigger plates you may touch the plates to the floor between reps to get more range of motion.
Women who learn the barbell hip thrust not only see great results in their glutes, but they love the feeling of strength and power this exercise provides. Start progressing today and I guarantee you’ll be hooked.