What is a hip thrust?
A hip thrust is a resistance training exercise that targets the gluteal, back and hamstring muscles. The exercise involves lying on your back on the ground or on a bench with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You then place a weight or resistance band across your hips and lift your hips up towards the ceiling while squeezing your glutes.
Hip thrusts can be performed with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, or bodyweight. They are a popular exercise among athletes and fitness enthusiasts looking to build strength and size in their glutes, as well as improve their performance in activities like running, jumping, and squatting. Additionally, hip thrusts can help improve posture and reduce lower back pain by strengthening the muscles that support the pelvis and spine.
How to do a hip thrust
Here are the steps to perform a hip thrust:
- Set up: Start by positioning a bench or a sturdy elevated surface against a wall. Sit on the bench and place a barbell or resistance band across your hips. If you’re using a barbell, make sure to add weights to it that you can handle.
- Position yourself: Roll the barbell or resistance band down your thighs so that it sits just above your knees. Lie down on your back with your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart and knees bent. Your shoulders should be resting on the bench and your head should be slightly off the edge.
- Thrust: Drive your hips up towards the ceiling until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, hold for a second or two, then lower your hips back down to the starting position
- Repeat: Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions, depending on your fitness level and goals.
Tips for proper form:
- Keep your chin tucked in and your neck neutral throughout the movement.
- Engage your core muscles to maintain stability and prevent arching in your lower back.
- Make sure to drive through your heels as you lift your hips up, rather than pushing off your toes.
- Don’t overextend your hips at the top of the movement, as this can lead to strain in your lower back. Instead, focus on squeezing your glutes and maintaining a neutral spine.
There are several variations of the hip thrust that you can try to target your glutes and hips from different angles and intensities. Here are some examples:
- Single-Leg Hip Thrust: Instead of lifting both hips at once, you lift one leg off the ground and perform a hip thrust with the other leg. This variation increases the challenge to your glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles, and can help correct muscle imbalances between your left and right sides.
- Banded Hip Thrust: Using a resistance band around your thighs just above your knees increases the activation of your gluteus medius muscles, which are important for hip stabilisation and abduction.
- Weighted Hip Thrust: Adding weight to the movement using a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell increases resistance and can help you build strength and size in your glutes. You can also perform a paused or tempo hip thrust to increase the time under tension and challenge your muscles further.
- Elevated Hip Thrust: Performing the hip thrust on an elevated surface like a step or a box increases the range of motion and the stretch of your glutes and hamstrings, leading to greater muscle activation and recruitment.
- Band-Resisted Hip Thrust: Using a resistance band looped around the barbell or anchored to a stationary object can increase the resistance at the top of the movement, making it more challenging to lift your hips up and engage your glutes. This variation can help you develop more explosive power and strength.
Common mistakes of hip thrust
Here are some common mistakes that people make when performing the hip thrust:
- Arching the Lower Back: One of the most common mistakes during hip thrusts is arching the lower back, which can cause strain and injury. To prevent this, engage your core muscles and keep your spine neutral throughout the movement.
- Pushing with the Toes: Instead of driving through the heels, some people tend to push with their toes, which can reduce the activation of the glutes and put more stress on the knees. Make sure to plant your feet firmly on the ground and focus on pushing through the heels.
- Not Squeezing the Glutes: The hip thrust is all about engaging and activating the glutes, so it’s important to squeeze them hard at the top of the movement to fully engage the muscle fibres. Pause and hold the top position for a second or two before lowering your hips.
- Raising the Hips Too High: Some people tend to overextend their hips and raise them too high, which can cause hyperextension of the lower back and reduce the activation of the glutes. Instead, focus on lifting your hips up until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders, without over-arching your back.
- Using Too Much Weight: While adding weight to the hip thrust can help you build strength and size in your glutes, too much weight can compromise your form and increase the risk of injury. Start with a moderate weight and gradually increase it over time as you improve your technique and strength.
Safety and Precautions of hip thrust
The hip thrust is generally a safe exercise when performed with proper form and technique. However, there are a few safety considerations and precautions you should keep in mind to reduce the risk of injury:
- Warm-up: Before performing hip thrusts, make sure to warm up your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back with dynamic stretches or exercises like squats, lunges, or bridges.
- Start with Bodyweight: If you’re new to hip thrusts or haven’t done them in a while, start with bodyweight or light resistance and focus on mastering your form and technique.
- Use a Spotter: If you’re using a heavyweight or barbell, have a spotter or trainer assist you during the exercise to ensure proper form and safety.
- Adjust the Equipment: Make sure to adjust the height and position of the bench, barbell, or resistance band to suit your body size and height. If the equipment is too high or too low, it can cause strain on your lower back or hips.
- Avoid Hyperextension: Do not overextend your hips at the top of the movement, as this can put undue stress on your lower back and cause injury. Focus on squeezing your glutes and maintaining a neutral spine throughout the exercise.
- Avoid Jerky Movements: Avoid jerking or thrusting the weight up using momentum, as this can cause strain or injury to your lower back, hips, or knees. Instead, use a smooth, controlled motion and focus on engaging your glutes and hamstrings.
- Stop if you feel pain: If you experience pain, discomfort, or unusual sensations during the exercise, stop immediately and consult with a medical professional or fitness trainer.
Remember to always consult with a medical professional or qualified fitness trainer before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any pre-existing injuries, medical conditions, or concerns.