Hip Thrusts continue gaining popularity in gyms around the country (thanks to our buddy Bret Contreras), and with good reason. The hip thrust and its variations are great for:
They train the quads and hamstrings as well, but to a much lesser degree, making them especially useful for women who want to increase the size of their glutes without significantly altering the size of their legs.
That said, there are a number of reasons why women shy away from performing hip thrusts in the gym:
While there's not much we can do to help you get over feeling awkward or shy about performing hip thrusts in a crowded gym (besides encouraging you to wear headphones, and zone out!) we can help you perform the correctly, get in the right position, and hopefully eliminate any extra stress you feel on your lower back or hips during the movement.
Before I dive into how to perform a proper weighted hip thrust, I'd be remiss not to make sure that you know how to perform a bodyweight hip thrust first (also known as a Back-Elevated Glute Bridge). You can see a demo at 2:28 in the video above.
This movement is exactly the same as the Glute Bridge, except that your back is elevated, which will increase your range of motion and prepare you for a weighted hip thrust.
Tip: Make sure your neck stays neutral or you tuck your chin as you lift yourself off the floor. Don’t let your head drop back.
You can do this same exercise with a single leg. Just lift one foot off the floor, and complete the same Hip Thrust motion. If you struggle doing this with good form, here's a simple trick that may help: do a normal Hip Thrust with your feet narrow, and once you get to the top, lift one foot off the ground, and do your Single Leg Hip Thrusts from there. This will help you start the exercise with a nice, square pelvis.
If you want to add some weight to the Hip Thrust, but you're not ready to put a heavy bar across your hips, the Hip Thrust with Chains is a great progression toward that.
If you don’t have chains, or want to mix it up, try using a band over your hips. There are several different ways to do this. The way I'm demonstrating here is by securing a band to very heavy dumbbells.
There are a few variations on this one as well:
Band Around Knees: Just like with the variation described above, place a band right above your knees, and drive your knees out slightly against the band as you lift hips up, and squeeze your glutes at the top.
Knee Crush: If you have a foam roller or a ball, you can put it between your knees, and think about crushing it between them as you lift your hips.
After you have mastered the basic movement, you may be ready to progress to the Barbell Hip Thrust! In this exercise, like the ones above it, it's really important that your body functions as a unit, making sure that your core stays braced, your spine stays neutral, and there are no jerky movements. It’s better to do this properly at a lower weight, than to use a higher weight and risk an injury.
Tip: If you find Barbell Hip Thrusts painful, definitely put some padding between your hips and the bar. You can roll up a yoga mat or a sweatshirt, or whatever else is handy, and put it under the barbell to “pad” the weight. Or you can get yourself a Squat Sponge. I've done Hip Thrusts with 315 pounds using one of these puppies with no pain or bruising on my hips afterward. It's much, much more effective and simple to use than anything else I've tried.
Now you can hit your glutes with any variation, from a bodyweight glute bridge to a 300-pound hip thrust! These booty-building and booty-strengthening exercises are really versatile, and you can do them anywhere—whether you’re someplace with no equipment, or in a fully-equipped gym.
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