What are Hip Thrusts? (A useful guide to using hip thrusts in bodybuilding)

What are hip thrusts?

What are hip thrusts?

If you are new to the gym scene and bodybuilding in general, you may be wondering 'what is a hip thrust'?

Hip thrusts are a resistance exercise performed with a flat bench and loaded barbell. The exercise targets the glutes, quads and hamstrings so it is a great lower body, compound movement. 

Bodybuilders and strength athletes will use hip thrusts to build mass in the upper legs as well as develop core strength and stability in the hips. 

Which muscles are targeted with hip thrusts?

Muscles worked with hip thrusts
The hip thrust is a lower-body compound exercise. The primary mover is the gluteus maximus with the other gluteal muscles and hip adductors also being activated. Even though the hamstrings and quads are classed as secondary targets, they still come under a lot of strain when performing hip thrusts with a full range of motion. 

What are the benefits of performing hip thrusts?


If you are a bodybuilder, fitness competitor or just want a rounder, toned butt, hip thrusts are the way to go to develop the glutes. adding hip thrusts will add lean mass to the muscle as well as add definition between the glutes and hamstrings.


Strength trainers will benefit from adding hip thrusts to their routine as an accessory movement. It promotes strength and stability within the core and upper legs which will, in turn, benefit your squat and deadlift numbers.

Athletic performance

If you are a runner or partake in sports that require a lot of running or jumping, having strong gluteal muscles is essential. It will give you explosive sprinting power as well as allow you to jump higher. Many professional athletes will have hip thrusts in their resistance routines for this reason. 

Injury prevention

Many resistance exercises help prevent injury and hip thrusts are one of the best for it. Strong glutes help prevent injury in the lower back as well as promote good stability and posture. 

How do I do hip thrusts?

Hip thrusts are a simple exercise to perform once you have set up your equipment. As it is a resistance exercise, make sure that your legs and core are thoroughly warmed up and that you start with a few warm-up sets. 
What are hip thrusts

  1. Grab a flat bench, a barbell bar and some plates.
  2. Load up the bar and place it on your thighs. Start with a light weight and pyramid up to your working sets.
  3. Place your upper back on the side of the bench and bridge your body with your legs
  4. With feet at shoulder width for a steady stance, thrust the bar in an upwards direction with your hips.
  5. When your torso is in line with your upper legs, you are at the top of the movement.
  6. Slowly lower the bar by hinging at the hips.
  7. Before your glutes hit the ground, thrust the bar up again to repeat the movement.
  8. Repeat for the required number of reps and sets.

Alternatives to hip thrusts.

Plate hip thrust.

If you are new to hip thrusts and want to work your way up to barbell hip thrusts, start with single weight plates, a dumbbell or a kettlebell. The movement is exactly the same as a barbell hip thrust but with a manageable weight.

It is great for familiarizing yourself with the movement or warming up to a heavier barbell thrust. 

Bodyweight hip thrust.

Hip thrusts can be performed without a weighted resistance. This is a great exercise to use as a warm-up to a weighted thrust or if you are new to hip thrusts and want to perfect the movement. You can use resistance bands between your lower legs to keep them steady.
How do I do a bodyweight hip thrust

Raised leg hip thrust.

This is one of the lesser-used methods but if you do not have a bench, it is a great alternative and allows you to target each leg individually. By using a full range of motions and a slow negative motion, you can really put tension on the target muscles and promote growth. 
How do I do a single leg hip thrust

Glute bridge thrusts.

This is basically a hip thrust from the floor. It can be performed with bodyweight or you can add some resistance by placing a weight plate or dumbbell on your torso. This is a great exercise to add to a floor circuit with leg abductions and ab exercises. 
How do I do a glute bridge thrust

Straight leg deadlift.

The straight leg deadlift targets the glutes and hamstrings as well as the lower back. It can be performed with dumbbells or a loaded barbell. Do not go too heavy with this movement. Make strict form and time under tension the goal so that you can really feel activation in the target muscles. 
How do I do a straight leg deadlift


Kickbacks are one of the best exercises for developing glutes and hip abductors. They can be performed with bodyweight, resistance bands, on a machine or with cables. This is another exercise that does not really allow for heavy training but instead, strict form and time under tension with the target muscles. 
How do I do a glute kickback


Gymenix offers a selection of free training programs to suit all abilities and goals. Click on the links below for FREE access. 

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