Hip thrusts are plastered on nearly every fitness influencer’s page nowadays. Fortunately, they are a dynamic and effective exercise that has soared in popularity among fitness enthusiasts and athletes—so, honestly, I have no problem with it.
It’s a great compound movement that targets the gluteal muscles (“glutes”), and it’s crucial for improving lower body strength, power, and juicy lower-body aesthetics.
As a NASM-certified personal trainer, I’ve helped countless men and women incorporate hip thrusts (and their many variations) into their workout routines—and I’ve watched them see incredible results from doing them regularly. Therefore, I feel about as qualified as anyone to speak to the practical benefits of this incredible exercise.
Now, let’s take a look at the benefits of hip thrusts and let me show you how to correctly perform them in the comfort of your own home to maximize their effects on your fitness journey.
A Quick Overview
Hip thrusts are a controlled and powerful movement, mainly focusing on the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and core. This exercise is vital for developing a stronger posterior chain, contributing to improved athletic performance, alleviating lower back pain, and enhancing overall physique. Considering that about 65 million Americans experience some form of back pain, hip thrusts are a great exercise to include in your routine.
How to Perform Hip Thrusts
To enjoy the full benefits of hip thrusts, proper form is essential:
Equipment you’ll need:
- A bench (or couch, or chair—or any flat, sturdy, and comfortable surface!)
- A ball
However, these tools are optional. It’s advisable not to use any equipment until you can effectively activate your glutes on the ground using just your body weight.
How to do a Bodyweight Hip Thrust:
- Lie on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground and knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
- Place your hands on the floor beside you for extra support, with palms facing down.
- Engage your core by bringing your rib cage down and tucking your pelvis slightly upwards—this helps activate your glutes.
- Press your heels into the floor, lifting your hips while squeezing your glutes at the top.
- Perform at least 8-10 reps to activate your posterior chain effectively: glutes, hamstrings, calves, and back.
Once you have established a good muscle connection, progress to performing the exercise on a chair for added difficulty.
How to do an Elevated Hip Thrust:
- Sit on the ground with your upper back against a bench.
- With knees bent and feet flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart, press through your heels to lift your hips toward the ceiling, fully extending your hips at the top.
- Ensure your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to knees at the peak of the movement.
- Hold the position briefly, then lower your hips back down.
If this movement feels comfortable, you can increase the difficulty by attempting a single-leg hip thrust or adding a ball for an extra challenge.
Single-Leg Hip Thrust:
- Sit with your upper back against a bench and one foot on the ground, the other leg lifted at a 90-degree angle.
- Drive through the heel on the ground, lifting your hips upward and extending fully at the top.
- Keep your body in a straight line from shoulders to knees, hold for a moment, then lower back down.
Adding a Prop:
- Position yourself as you would for the basic hip thrust, placing a ball or pillow between your thighs.
- Squeeze the prop between your thighs as you perform the hip thrust to engage additional muscle groups.
Repetitions and Sets:
Perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions, progressively increasing the weight and intensity as you get stronger.
How to Gradually Increase Weight at Home:
When you don’t have traditional weights at home, increasing the difficulty can be a challenge. Here’s how to add resistance to keep improving strength:
Introducing The Drop Set:
- Complete 8-12 repetitions using a weight or perform the exercise on a single leg.
- Drop the weight and immediately continue with bodyweight hip thrusts to fatigue.
- Repeat this process 2-3 times to achieve a powerful muscle pump.
Other A+ Additions to Your Routine:
Including lunges and step-ups will enhance the strength and conditioning of your legs and back, making these exercises valuable complements to hip thrusts.
The Importance of Strong Glutes
Strong glutes are not only for aesthetic appeal; they serve a key functional purpose in supporting the posterior chain of muscles around the spine. Hip thrusts are also known for their capacity to develop and define glute muscles, contributing to their popularity on social media. After all, who doesn’t appreciate the look of a well-crafted pair of glutes?
Other Benefits of Hip Thrusts:
- Strength and Power: Hip thrusts, as a compound movement, aid in increasing lower body strength and power, enhancing athletic abilities such as running, jumping, and powerlifting.
- Improved Posture: By strengthening the posterior chain muscles, you can enhance your posture and lower the risk of back pain and muscle strain.
- Injury Prevention: Strong glutes and hamstrings contribute to hip and knee stability, minimizing injury risks in sports and daily life.
Hip thrusts are more than a fitness trend; they’re a critical element of a well-rounded fitness regimen. With consistent practice and attention to form, you can tap into the significant benefits of this exercise for improved athletic performance, posture, and injury prevention.
Remember, consistency and proper form are the keys to reaping the rewards of the mighty hip thrust. For additional stability and structural support, make sure you complement your glute training with core and abdominal exercises as well.
Helya is a NASM certified personal trainer with expertise in RKC, 200 Hr Yoga, Animal Flow, Precision Nutrition, Tabata, Pilates, and is currently completing her CrossFit L1 certification. She is an experienced coach with many certifications, but most of her experience comes from the hundreds of people she has helped over the last decade while owning a small functional training gym in Ventura, California. Helya is a people person passionate about helping people move well and hurt less.