What is a hip thrust?
Hip thrust could be thought of as a modern phenomenon. This exercise is becoming more and more popular, and not only with women. It is an ideal exercise for strengthening the gluteal muscles, the muscles that are important for correct posture and hip stabilisation. In addition, the optimal range of motion of the hips achieved during hip thrusts contributes to the development of speed and strength.
Hip thrusts primarily target the three gluteal muscles:
- Gluteus Maximus – the main function is to move the leg backwards
- Gluteusminimus – the main function is to move the leg sideways (abduction)
- Gluteusmedius – the main function is also abduction
The exercise also engages the hamstrings, quadriceps femoris, and midsection muscles, however the main focus is on the gluteus maximus, making the hip thrust an important part of an effective weight training plan.
It is the gluteal muscles that are weakened by prolonged sitting, and the lower back and quadriceps then take most of the load. Extreme overloading of the lower back can then lead to pain in the lumbar region and poor posture.
Since it primarily activates the gluteal muscles, this exercise is your best friend for achieving a perfect rounded behind. Moreover, you can modify the exercise in every way and incorporate it perfectly in your home workout as well.
Hip thrust is often confused withglute bridges. The main difference is that the pelvic bridge is performed without elevation, with your back on the ground. The exercise is therefore easier as the range of motion is smaller.
Pelvic bridges also involve the quadriceps femoris more than the hamstrings compared to hip thrusts. However, this exercise is still effective for engaging the gluteal muscles and if the hip thrust is too challenging for you, the pelvic bridge can be substituted.
Hip thrust – correct technique and execution
For an ideal hip thrust, you will need a weight bench, a chair or the edge of a couch, and some weight. You can use a barbell with an axle, a one-armed kettlebell, or feel free to use a box filled with books.
- Sit on the floor, with your back facing the bench, and set up the weights in your lap. Rest your back on the edge of the bench, ideally in the area below your shoulder blades.
- Bend your legs, keeping your feet flat on the ground, about shoulder width apart. Do not tilt your head, keep your chin slightly lowered so that your eyes follow your lower abdomen.
- Press your heels into the ground and lift your pelvis so that your entire body and thighs are parallel to the ground. The knees should be at right angles.
- All the time focus on working the gluteal muscles and clench them tightly in the highest position.
As a complete beginner, you can only perform this exercise with your own weight. Perform about 12 reps in three sets and gradually increase the number until you perform a perfect 20 reps per set.
Once you feel confident and have good form, add some extra weight. If you’re looking to bulk up your glutes, choose a weight that allows you to do at least 8 reps, but no more than 12. If the weight is comfortable for you, increase it.
Benefits – Weight Training Plan –
- Improved posture and back pain relief
As with other movements, hip thrusts work the muscles in groups. One muscle acts as the agonist (the one that contracts) and the other as the antagonist. In the case of the gluteal muscles, which act as the agonist, the hip flexors (iliopsoas, iliacus and psoas major) are the antagonists.
If the hip flexors are stiff or understretched, then poor pelvic positioning occurs. In addition, frequent sitting weakens the gluteal muscles, which only encourages poor posture.
Strengthening the gluteal muscles is crucial for correct posture and also helps ease of movement. Strong buttock muscles counteract lumbar hyper-lordosis and thus back pain, which is caused by long-term overloading of the vertebrae and intervertebral discs.
- Everyday activities will be easier
Strengthening your gluteal muscles will also make everyday movement easier. The buttock muscles contribute to better balance, especially when moving forward. This makes walking, walking up stairs and running easier.
The gluteus maximus serves to maintain balance when walking and running and reduces the hardness of impact. The gluteus medius muscle helps balance the pelvis in the phase when one leg is lifted off the ground. A weak gluteus medius contributes to abnormal gait, bearing the name Trendelenburg gait. In this, the upper body is flexed and the center of gravity shifts from one hip to the other during the stride.
Furthermore, this condition causes a shortening of the stride and thus a slowing of the overall gait speed and instability. The gluteus minimus then serves to keep the femoral head in the correct position during gait and the various rotations and rotations of the leg.
- Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles
The gluteal muscles are also closely linked to the pelvic floor muscles. While this is more relevant for women, weak muscles around the sacrum can cause lower back pain in the general population, including men.
The pelvic floor muscles, along with the gluteal muscles, stabilize the hip bone. When the buttock muscles become weak, the sacrum is then pulled forward, leading to problems with proper posture, stiffening of the muscles in the lumbar region and subsequent low back pain.
- Improved mobility and speed
The gluteal muscles are the foundation of the leg musculature and as such are also central to athletic performance. Strengthening the muscles supports the development of correct technique in sports. The muscles of the buttocks and hips are essential in the following movements:
- Jumping (even on one leg)
- Acceleration from rest
- Maximum running speed
- Slowing down
- Rotational power of the punch and throw
- Movements involving the squat
Additionally, they are important for injury prevention, especially in sports. Weak glutes are particularly manifested by a short stride, which in turn affects the speed and technique of the overall movement, for example during running or sprinting.
How to incorporate hip thrusts into a strengthening plan?
It’s great to incorporate hip thrusts into days when you’re already strengthening complementary muscle groups. So, a leg or full body workout is ideal.
Most plans include hip thrusts more towards the end of the workout. Usually starting with lunges and their variations, through squats, to mat exercises where you perform various lunges and glute bridges or just hip thrusts.
It’s important to warm up and stretch dynamically before the workout, and don’t forget to rest properly during each set, especially if you’re working with higher weights. Then stretch properly after the workout.
Hip thrust – what mistakes to watch out for?
As with any exercise, you need to keep form in mind. Maintaining form and the quality of the exercise is always more important than the number of reps. It is better to take a break while performing an exercise than to perform an exercise with poor technique.
- You are not performing the exercise to its full extent
Make sure to tighten the movement until the entire torso is parallel to the ground. Full involvement of the gluteal muscles occurs only in the top position. The goal is to keep the legs at right angles to the knees.
- Wrong foot position
If the angle that the feet are gripping is greater than 90°, then the movement will be felt more in the hamstrings than in the glutes. If the feet are too close to the body, then you are engaging more of the quadriceps. So you need to adjust the position of the legs properly to match the intention of the exercise.
- Poor posture of the lower back
If your lower back is arched and your chest is too high in the starting position, then you are not getting optimal hip range in the top position. And therefore, neither does the full engagement of the gluteal muscles. Therefore, make sure that your ribcage muscles are contracted and your lower back is not arched.
- You’re putting yourself on your toes
Some people have a tendency to build themselves up on their toes when performing hip thrusts, especially when reaching a non-taller position. This phenomenon occurs if your foot placement is poor or if you have dominant quadriceps.
Here again, going back to the correct foot position, adjust it so that your feet are clasping ninety degrees when reaching the highest position. The movement should then come from the heels, and they should remain on the ground throughout the entire range of motion.
Top variations of Hip thrusts
- Hip thrust on one leg
Lift one leg, you can leave it bent, then the thigh should be perpendicular to the mat in the top position. You can also extend the leg. For a lighter variation, you can do glutebridges on one leg. This variation has the advantage of being a unilateral exercise and helps to correct imbalances in muscle strength.
- Hip thrust with legs on the bench
Lie down on the floor and place your feet on the bench, always keeping in mind the correct form to perform the exercise. The range of motion is greater than that of the regular hip thrust, and the involvement of the gluteal muscles is greater.
- Hip thrust with rubber band
Use a rubber band to better engage the medial gluteal muscles. Concentrate so that the legs create outward pressure against the rubber throughout the movement. You can then stay in the top position, and pulse a few times
- Hip thrust on heels
Place your feet a little further away from your body and lift your toes off the ground. The movement still comes from the heels. This position will engage the hamstrings more. Again, the exercise can be modified by adding weight or resistance with a rubber band.