Building Your Glutes with Barbell Hip Thrusts

Barbel hip thrustsMore 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 pushing heavy 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.

The hip thrust is a variation 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 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, we’ll move on to elevating the shoulders or single-leg variations, 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 my video showing the basic progression:

Basic Glute Bridge

  1. 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.
  2. Hold for 2 -3 seconds, contracting your glutes at the top and engaging your core muscles. Do not let your back hyperextend.
  3. Lower your hips until they’re almost to the floor and repeat.

Barbell Hip Thrust

  1. 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).
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.

Also see my posts on how to set up for barbell hip thrusts and how to use a preloaded bar.

Women who do 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.

This article originally appeared on

17 thoughts on “Building Your Glutes with Barbell Hip Thrusts

  1. Looks like a great movement, and your demonstrations are very clear! It’s new to me, but I think I’ll add it to my repertory . . . not for the sake of minimizing quad growth (I happen to like big strong legs) but to focus on the ol’ rear end.

    I hope you do more video!


    • Thanks. Let me know when start noticing a difference! Not to say big quads are bad looking ;). Structurally speaking, many of us have more dominant quads than glutes, and that isn’t usually a good thing.


  2. yowza!
    nice strength demonstrated. smooth movements, working full range of motion! fantastic video examples of how TO do these moves.
    never thought of adding weights to the bridge move, but it makes total sense!



  3. Suzanne, I’m always up for “booty building” advice. Glue bridges have been one of my favorite moves since I first learned them in Pilates class a few years ago, but I’ve never tried a barbell hip thrust before. (Come to think of it, that move might be illegal here in Georgia – ha.ha). Great seeing you on video as well as in the written word!


  4. Suzanne, great article–I so want a strong and firm butt so I’m always happy to read about how to do that!! I already do the bridge and the single leg extension but I have never added weight to it. I will be doing that next time around. And thanks for linking us subscribers to your newest post–I was so excited to watch your video, and I think you did a great job at it! (I didn’t know feedburner went away!)


  5. Great video!

    I learned a whole different progression for the glute bridge -concentrating more on stability through increased challenges- but watching this video was fun.

    Do barbell hip thrusts as a supplemental move on my squat days and love em.


    • Glad to hear you’re doing them! I would say if I was progressing someone for another purpose it might be different. This progression, if a person has a decent level of conditioning, is good for getting to BB hip thrusts. I’ve started prioritizing them and love feeling those tight pants! (Important for slow glute gainers like me :D.)


  6. Great post, great topic (guess what my book is about?) and great video! Your explanations and demos were really clear! I’ve tried all of the progressions except the feet and head elevated; what’s the advantage? Increased ROM?
    I love doing weighted hip extensions with a heavy plate on my lap too!


  7. LOVE the video & all the ways you show people to work their way there! I do the both feet elevated since it is hard to find a place to do BB hip thrusts but with the step against the wall – you gave me an idea!!! 🙂

    GREAT ONE! Who doesn’t want tight buns! 🙂


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