In this article we are gonna be looking at how to perform the hip thrust with perfect technique, but Before we jump into the technique itself now let’s take a quick look at what muscles we’re going to be targeting.
What muscles do hip thrusts work
1. Hip extension: Glueteals, Hamstrings
So with the hip thrust, we’re training almost pure hip extension, so when you take your hips from a flexed or bent position to a straight or extended position
2. Hip Abduction: Gluteals
We can also target the glutes through hip abduction by placing a hip circle or loop-loop around the knees and the hip thrust is a unique exercise because it not only has a huge capacity for overload but can also be used to establish a strong mind-muscle connection with the glutes.
For Ex: Dr. BretContreras hip-thrusting over 700 pounds with perfect technique and Katie Sonier doing over 500 pounds for reps at a 120 pounds body weight.
The hip thrust has also become a very well-studied exercise. In 2015 dr. Contreras and colleagues found that the hip thrust elicited higher glute EMG activation than the back squat which was then followed up with the first-ever hip thrust twin case study where across a six-week time frame the twin that did the hip thrust saw significantly more upper and lower glute growth than the twin who did squats.
Now, these results probably come from the fact that the hip thrust loads the glutes at and beyond the neutral hip position whereas vertically loaded movements like the squat and deadlift tend to lose tension at the top when the glutes are in or near full hip extension.
Now the biggest downside to the hip thrust is probably the setup. There are pieces of specialty equipment like the hip thruster which can make it much easier but if you don’t have access to these here is a simple three-step setup.
How do you set up a hip thrust?
- First, find a bench that matches your tibia or lower leg height, and decline bench often works for this and set it up against a rack wall or other stable base of support so it doesn’t slide back.
- Second, you want to wrap a thick pad or towel around the bar for cushioning.
- Third, you can load up the bar in front of the bench.
Hip Thrust Basics
The hip thrust exercise is very versatile and that you can go quite heavy on it, go with 4-8 reps if your primary goal is to build strength however I think you should stick to a more moderate to high rep range around 8-15 reps if your main goal is hypertrophy.
Also as you master the technique it’s important to start light and gradually work your way up so that you don’t let your form slip just to set PRS.
How to Do Hip Thrust Perfectly
- So you want to position yourself between the bench in the bar making sure the bar is centered on your hips and the pad is centered on the bar.
- Place your upper back up against the bench and take a slightly wider than shoulder-width stance with about 15 degrees of a foot flare and as you warm up with lightweight you can adjust your feet and hip placement so that your tibia or lower leg and femur upper leg make a 90-degree angle at the top of each rep.
- Before initiating the thrust you should flex your glutes and then focus on squeezing your glutes to move the weight straight up and unlike the squat rather than thinking about driving your feet through the ground you can just focus on fully extending your hips until you can’t move the weight up any further and you should feel an extremely strong contraction in your glutes doing this.
- Now throughout the positive, you should be gazing straight ahead not up with your chin and ribcage tucked down and at the top, you should be squeezing your glutes together as hard as you can as if there’s a coin between your butt cheeks and you’re trying to prevent it from falling out.
- This may take time to master and that we should also focus on posteriorly rotating your pelvis at the top by contracting down on your abs slightly which is gonna help pull your glutes into full hip extension and prevent undesired hyperextension of the low back instead.
- Now, you want to use your hands to stabilize the bar from wobbling from side to side you don’t want to use your arms to help Jack the weight up.
Now if you’re feeling it more in your quads than in your glutes, now you can try shifting your feet further forward, however for some this is just gonna shift the emphasis on to the hamstrings as you want to play around with your stance width and your hip position and degree in foot flare to find a position that feels best for your proportions.
Intensity Technique for Hip Thrust
As an intensity technique, you can use a 1, 2, 3-second pause at the top.
However, when training for strength, I just recommend a quick squeeze at lockout and immediately begin the negative by lowering the weight under control as your glutes stretch under the load.
And because the temptation to just let the weight fall on the hip thrust is stronger than on many other movements, I generally recommend a slower eccentric tempo so the negative should last for just a two-second count on each rep so that you can actively focus on this crucial a lowering phase of the movement.
Errors You can avoid while doing Hip Thrust
I would say the most common error that I see here are:
1. Not fully locking out the hips
Failure to fully lockout can result from using too much weight but I think it’s much more common for people to avoid lockout just because it really does burn and if you weren’t feeling that burn in your glutes at the top then you most likely aren’t fully extending your hips, and your hips should be above your knees at the top of every rep.
2. Extending the lower back instead of the glutes
Another very common error is to extend your lower back instead of the glutes and you want to remember from earlier that you should try to rotate your pelvis posteriorly at the top like crunching your abs slightly and even just keeping your chin down will help with this.
So I want you guys to try this really quickly:
What I want you to do is intentionally have an arch in your lower back and try squeezing your glutes together as hard as you can and I want you to contract your abs a little bit which is gonna flatten out your lower back and then try squeezing your glutes as hard as you can.
You should feel a much stronger glute contraction when your lower back is flat as opposed to when it’s arched.
The same thing applies for the hip thrust when you’re locking out at the top you really want to avoid that arch in your lower back, crunch down on your abs, and then that way you’ll get your glutes to fire the hardest at the top.
I’m actually not sure if there is a truly equal alternative to the hip thrust. If you’re using higher reps then you can set up the hip thrust on the leg extension machine.
Glute bridge is a good option if you’re tight on time which is the same basic movement except here you’re setting up with your upper back on the ground rather than on the bench which will limit the range of motion a bit but it’s probably the next best thing.
Also, variations on the hip thrust like the single-leg hip thrust or the neat banded hip thrust are great to include which is going to challenge the glutes through hip abduction getting the side and upper aspects of the glutes a little bit more as well.
So guys that’s all that I have for the hip thrust. Thank you guys so much for reading. Happy exercising!