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How To Hip Thrust For A Powerful Booty

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:

  • Improving glute strength
  • Increasing glute size
  • Improving aesthetics of glutes (higher, rounder, firmer)
  • Improving performance in athletics
  • Improving performance in the weight room
  • Reducing overall risk of injury, as strong glutes can help take stress off the lower back and also positively affect the mechanics of the hips, knees, ankles, and feet

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:

  • They feel awkward.
  • They don’t know how to perform them correctly.
  • They struggle with getting into the right position.
  • They have lower back or hip pain when they perform Hip Thrusts.

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.

Bodyweight Hip Thrust (a.k.a. Back-Elevated Glute Bridge)

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.

  1. Start with your shoulder blades against a bench, and your arms spread across it for stability.  If your shoulders don’t reach the bench, you may need to start with your butt slightly off the floor.  Bend your knees to about 90 degrees, and make sure your feet are flat on the floor.
  2. Take a big breath in, blow your air out fully, and brace your core.
  3. Squeeze your glutes, lift up your hips, and hold a second or two.  It’s very important that you don’t hyperextend your lower back at the top.

Tip:  Make sure your neck stays neutral 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.

Hip Thrust With Chains

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.

  1. Set yourself up for a normal Hip Thrust, then drape some chains across your lap
  2. Take a big breath in, blow your air out fully, and brace your core.
  3. Come up and squeeze your glutes for 1-2 seconds, and then smoothly come back down, moving your whole body as a unit.

Hip Thrust with Bands

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.

  1. Set yourself up for a Hip Thrust, making sure the band is directly across your hip bones.
  2. Take a big breath in, blow your air out fully, and brace your core.
  3. Come up, squeezing your glutes, then slowly and smoothly come back down.

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.

Barbell Hip Thrust

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.

  1. Set up the barbell parallel to the bench.
  2. Position yourself on the floor, with your shoulders and shoulder blades against the bench. Again, if they don’t reach the bench when you are sitting on the floor you can raise your butt a little bit off the floor.
  3. Roll the barbell toward you, over your legs until it’s directly over your hips.
  4. Put your elbows on the bench and your hands on the bar to steady it.  It is very important that your body is aligned and your spine is neutral.
  5. Take a deep breath in, then exhale all the air out through your mouth and brace your core.
  6. Drive through your heels and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips (and the barbell).
  7. Come down smoothly, with your core still braced.

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.

Molly Squat Sponge Hip Thrust - 1

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.  Happy hip thrusting!

If you found this article helpful and would like more detailed guidance with the rest of your training program, we can help!


Finally—there’s a way of eating and exercising that’s effective, enjoyable, and easier than ever before (even if you’ve tried everything).

 

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About The Author: Molly Galbraith

Molly Galbraith, CSCS is co-founder and woman-in-charge at Girls Gone Strong, and creator of The Coaching & Training Women Academy, home for the world's most comprehensive, evidence-based, women-specific coaching certifications. A former figure competitor and powerlifter who has dedicated the last 15 years of her life to helping women achieve their goals and feel more comfortable and at home in their bodies. Learn more about Molly on her website and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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