Hip Thrust: Techniques, Benefits, and Variations
Also known as: Hip push-up, weightlifting hip bridge, glute bridge
Target: Gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, adductors and quadriceps
Necessary equipment: Dumbbells, dumbbells, dumbbells or dumbbells
The hip thruster, also known as the hip thruster, is a variation of the glutes, but it’s performed using a barbell and the body lifted off the floor. It targets the glutes better than many other lower body moves.
The hip pusher effectively improves hip extension by working the hamstrings and glutes. Your hips expand as you move from a flexed position (hips lower or behind shoulders and knees) to a fully extended position where hips, shoulders, and knees are in line.
Some popular variations of the hip push also work the muscles that wrap around the sides of the hips, the abduction move. You’ll need to use a circular resistance band (sometimes called a push-up hip band) to do these moves.
How to do hip push
The most widely practiced version of the hip push-up exercise requires you to balance on a bench while holding dumbbells above your hips. Getting in and out of a position can be confusing when you’re new to the exercise. It can be helpful to work with a partner or a trainer when you first try this move.
You can also try the movement on the floor before using the weight bench. If you’re using a dumbbell bench in the first place, do the move with weights before adding resistance.
If you’re new to exercise or strength training, check with your healthcare provider to make sure you shouldn’t be following any special modifications. If you are sedentary or are returning to exercise after pregnancy or an injury, consult your doctor first.
For your safety, be careful to position the bench properly, especially if you plan to lift a lot of weights. Make sure that the bench you use is not higher than your knees. The long end of the bench should be against a solid surface such as a wall so that it cannot move while you are lifting.
Alternatively, you may want to use a spacer or sponge on the bar. Place spacers in the center of the bar so that both hip bones are protected. Some exercisers use towels, but towels can slip and be less secure.
What is a hip thruster?
Some gyms may carry a unique piece of equipment specifically for this move—often called a pusher. It is an L-shaped device with a connecting platform on the floor and a padded bar for your upper back to rest on. Many people find this device to be the most stable and comfortable to carry around.
If benches aren’t available and your gym doesn’t have push-ups, you can use step-ups with 4 or 5 tubes. Once the bench is up, you’ll want to load the barbell. Always secure the dumbbell plate with the barbell collar.
- Begin sitting on the floor, knees bent, feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. The toes may turn out slightly. The upper back (lower shoulder blade) should rest against the edge of the weight bench in the middle of the bench.
- Place dumbbells at hip level. Hold the bar firmly to keep it in place, but do not use your hands to lift it.
- Squeeze your glutes and press the bar up until your hips are in line with your shoulders and knees. The bench should support the area between the shoulder blades. Hold the core tight and maintain a slight chin tuck with your center of gravity down your body (a few inches above the bar).
- Slowly lower the bar until your hips are just a few inches off the floor.
- Squeeze your glutes and lift again.
After you complete your first rep, adjust your legs as needed. You want to bend your knees at a 90-degree angle when your hips are fully extended.
Benefits of Hip Thrusts
There are a few solid reasons why hip pushups are a must-have for leg day at the gym.
Generate more energy
The hip extensor muscle is essential for activities of daily living such as walking, standing, and climbing stairs. But these muscles are also important for building the strength for peak athletic performance. Exercisers looking to strengthen the muscles in the hip area often look to standing exercises like dumbbell squats, lunges, or deadlifts.
But research shows that when you do strength exercises with standing dumbbells, there’s a reduction in stress on the hip extenders as the motion is nearly locked and the hip reaches a neutral position (standing). ). In the hip pushup, you’re in a horizontal position, which allows you to maintain maximum tension in your hip muscles through the entire movement.
The study also found that the hip push was more effective at activating the hip extensors when compared to the dumbbell squat, deadlift, or Romanian deadlift. This can be especially important for athletes who need to generate speed.
In a study published in 2021 in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Hip pushups have been shown to be more effective at training glutes for sprinting than back squats or squats.
Provides a Safer Squat Alternative
While barbell squats effectively build strength in the lower body, some people are unable to safely or comfortably place barbells in their upper back. For example, people with shoulder, neck, or lower back problems may find the weightlifting squat too difficult (or even dangerous). The hip thruster, or one of its modifications, strengthens the glutes without loading the upper body.
Hip Thrust vs Squat
The hip push is no better than the squat for most purposes. The squat is a basic human movement, while the hip push is not. Squats work the entire lower body and core while hip thrusts primarily work the glutes with some hamstrings.
Other Variations of Hip Thrust
There are a number of different ways to modify the elements of the hip thruster to suit your individual needs.
Hip thrusters can be intimidating because the setup is a bit complicated. It requires some equipment, and getting into the starting position requires some balance and understanding. If you’re not ready to try the full version, you can try Ouija with or without weights.
The basic shuttlecock, also known as the glutes or hip bridge, is a move very similar to the hip push. It also strengthens the glutes and hamstrings, although to a lesser extent than the hip thrusters. Instead of resting your upper back on a weight bench, you rest your back on the floor. The head and neck are also fully supported, resting on the floor.
- Bend your knees and place your feet hip-width apart on the floor.
- Press through your heels and raise your hips so that your knees, hips, and shoulders are on a diagonal.
- Lower your hips and repeat.
Dumbbell Hip Thrust
Once you’ve mastered the basics of hitting the shuttlecock, you can do the same move with dumbbells and an exercise ball or bench. Start with lighter weights.
- Place your back on an exercise ball or bench and your glutes on the floor.
- Place a weight at hip height. You can also place a dumbbell on each hip.
- Perform a hip push by squeezing your glutes and pressing the dumbbell straight up until your hips are in line with your shoulders and knees.
- Squeeze at the top before lowering to repeat.
Banded Hip Thrust
You can add resistance bands to this exercise to work the abductors.
- Place the wrap around both legs in the lower thighs (slightly above the knees).
- Make sure the strap is small enough in diameter that when you place your feet hip-width apart, it will stretch and have some resistance. The tape should also be wide enough so it doesn’t feel like it’s cutting into your leg.
- Raise and lower the hips as shown in the basic hip push. You’ll feel more engaged from the glutes on the side: gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, and tensor fascia lata.
There are some common mistakes to avoid when doing hip thrusts. Mistakes can lead to less effective results and potentially cause neck or back problems.
The foot position is not correct
Many trainers tell their clients that they can find a foot position that feels most comfortable for them. However, the position of your foot can affect how well different muscles work during the push. Moving the foot wider or narrower is not likely to make a big difference, but moving the foot further away or closer to the body can change the feel of this exercise.
If you feel like your quadriceps (front of the thighs) are working too hard, your feet may be too close to your hips. Moving them away from the body will help shift the workload to the hamstrings and glutes. Moving them too far will minimize the glutes and emphasize the hamstrings.
Your center of gravity is very important while doing hip thrusts. The upper back (around the lower shoulder blade area) is supported by the weight bench, but the neck and head are not. So you can drop your head back and look up at the ceiling while raising your hips. But this can encourage coverage through the spine, so it’s not recommended.
Instead, keep your chin up toward your chest while lifting your hips. This helps keep the core engaged and prevents you from arching your torso and extending too much through the spine.
It can be helpful to do this move in front of a mirror. You can then focus on your body and figure in the mirror, which will help you keep your chin in the proper upturned position. If you don’t have a mirror, look down at your body with the focus just a few inches from the bar.
If you’re lifting too much, or if you have a tight hip flexor, you can lift your hips partially but not fully with your hips in line with your shoulders and knees. This will help you shorten the most effective part of this exercise.
To achieve full extension, lower the weight slightly and see if you can fully lengthen your hips. If your hips are still not high enough, your hip flexors may be too tight. Try doing a floor swing to open up the hip area before doing the push up.
Falling too fast
Both the concentric (lift) and eccentric (lower) phases are important in lats. Some people put considerable effort into the lift segment and move quickly through the lowering phase to start another rep.
But to get the most out of this exercise, you want to control the eccentric phase. Take as much time to lower the bar as you raised it. It will force the glutes to work and work harder.
Safety and Precautions
Anyone with back or hip problems should speak with a healthcare provider before performing hip thrusts. Your provider may suggest modifications or alternative exercises.
Next, be careful not to stretch the spine when performing this exercise. It can be helpful to work with a trainer when first learning the move, or at least have a friend observe your form to make sure that your chest doesn’t push up and cause too much arch through the lower spine.
Finally, some people try to do hip pushups on a hamstring machine. However, gym machines are designed for specific uses. It is generally not recommended to use the device in ways not specified by the manufacturer.
frequently asked Questions
What is hip thrust good for?
Hip push-ups are great for working your glutes. The glutes are large muscles that can move a considerable amount of weight. The barbell hip thrusts allow the glutes to separate and take on heavy weight to build strength and muscle mass.
What weight should I start with to push the hips?
To choose weights for hip thrusts, use weights that make you feel as though you can’t complete one or two more reps by the time you finish the set. The weight will depend on the number of repetitions you intend to do.
Do hip pushups make thighs bigger?
Hip push-ups help strengthen the muscles in the thighs, but don’t necessarily make them bigger. If larger muscles (hypertrophy) are your goal, talk to a personal trainer about the best way to achieve this, as it often requires a specific training program.
Incorporate this and similar moves into one of these popular exercises:
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