People have long relied on squats to build stronger, leaner glutes, but the reality is that the hip thrust is the superior exercise. Anyone from professional athletes to senior citizens who want to maintain muscle tone can perform hip thrusts. The even better news is that there are several variations on the hip thrust, so there's never any need to get bored.
Also, this exercise is easy to learn and difficult to do wrong. That's a stark contrast with the squat, which many people do with improper form. This means that they aren't getting the booty-building workout that they need, and they're putting themselves at risk for an injury.
Building stronger glutes is a necessity because it not only reduces your risk of injury but also helps to support the back.
Benefits of the Hip Thrust
An increasing number of people consider the hip thrust exercise to be an essential part of leg day. Here are three reasons why.
1. Total Glute Activation
Unlike compound movements that work the glutes like the deadlift or the squat, the hip thrust is all about the booty. From the beginning of the movement to the apex at the top and back to the starting position, the glutes are engaged the entire time.
Contrast this with the deadlift when the glutes are only activated at the top of the lift or the squat when they are activated at the bottom. Suddenly, it's easy to see why the hip thrust is the best way to build your booty.
2. Build Greater Power
The hip extensors are among the strongest muscles. They provide stability to the pelvis and are required for climbing stairs, walking and standing. Accordingly, the hip extensors are an incredible source of power.
For building strength and maintaining mobility, the hip thrust is essential. This is because it's performed in a horizontal position, putting maximum tension on the muscles of the hip throughout the range of motion.
3. A Safer Alternative to the Squat
People who are prone to lower back pain or have injuries to the neck or shoulders may have difficulty performing squats, especially when the exercise involves weights. Moreover, it's common for people to improperly perform squats. Perhaps they arch their back, let their shoulders sag or forget to keep their core tight.
Regardless, squats can be painful or may put people at risk for an injury. Hip thrusts are a safe and effective alternative.
How to Do Hip Thrust?
Many variations of the hip thrust are in rotation at the gym. Here's a look at five options.
1. Basic Hip Thrust
- Place the back against a bench, box or sofa. Place the feet flat on the ground with the knees bent.
- Ensure that the feet are shoulder-width apart and that the bench hits just below the shoulder blades.
- Tuck the chin, and push through the heels until the thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Squeeze the glutes, return to the start.
- Beginners may perform three sets of 12 reps, progressing to 20 reps.
2. Weighted Hip Thrust
This is a progression from the basic hip thrust because the movement is the same. The difference is the addition of a barbell or a plate. Thanks to the increased weight, it's possible to really isolate the glutes and increase strength.
A weighted hip thrust can be performed in many different ways. A single barbell or plate can be placed across the hips or a pair of dumbbells can be held in the same area.
3. Resistance Band Hip Thrust
Here's another challenge to add to any hip thrust workout. Place a resistance band around both legs on the lower thighs. Ideally, the band will be small enough so that it's taut when the feet are shoulder-width apart. The band provides additional resistance, especially with the muscles on the sides of the hips.
4. Marching Hip Thrust
Also called a one-leg hip thrust, this move is done without weights or a band. Perform it by lifting one foot off the floor before lifting the hips. Continue holding the foot off of the floor for each rep until it's time to switch to the other side.
5. Hip Thrust with Feet on the Bench
To perform this variation, lie with the back flat on the floor and the feet on the bench. The movement is the same as the basic hip thrust, but the range of motion is greater.
The Most Common Mistakes When Doing a Hip Thrust
While the hip thrust is easy to perform, it's possible to make mistakes. For instance, it's relatively common for people to use the incorrect placement of the feet. When the feet are too close to the hips, then the hip thrust may be felt too much in the quadriceps. Conversely, when the feet are too far away from the hips, then the hamstrings will do most of the work.
Another common error is to not fully complete the extension. This may happen when lifting too much weight or when an individual has excessively tight hip flexors. Ideally, the knees, hips and shoulders will all be in line at the top of the movement. Remove some weight or open up the hips with a few bridges on the floor before doing the hip thruster.
Some people also have difficulty with maintaining a neutral lower back, which means that the back is hyperextended or arched at the beginning of the motion. This will make it impossible to get to a fully extended position.
Take Glute Training to the Next Level
Stronger glutes are the key to improved athletic performance and the ability to stay active for a lifetime. Anyone can achieve these goals when they wear FIRM ABS fitness leggings and make hip thrusters an integral part of their exercise routine.