Barbell Hip Thrusts

Barbell Hip Thrusts


Execution Cues:

- Initialize the setup with a knee-high soft box or bench that is stable and resistant to sliding. The barbell should be loaded with standardized diameter plates (ideally, bumper plates) to create a consistent range-of-motion even with loads below 135lbs. The trainee should be able to easily roll the bar into position when seated. Make sure to have a pad or soft mat to put on the bar as a cushion.

- Begin with the bar rolled into the hip crease, upper back on the box/bench, and hands gripping the bar to stabilize. Walk the feet in towards the hips until they are in position and flat on the floor. 

- From here, bridge the hips into the bar to create tension and lift the weight off the floor. 

- Because the first rep will be starting with the concentric, it will be important to get into full hip extension (lockout) and then adjust the positioning as needed for the remainder of the set. 

- Note that in lockout the feet should be directly under the knees (90º knee angle), hips fully extended, pelvis and lumbar spine neutral, abs contracted/braced, the box/bench should be contacting just under the shoulder blades, and the chin tucked. 

- From this full extension, the eccentric should be performed by allowing the load to break the hips into flexion while the torso remains rigid and resistant to movement. The knee angle will change subtly as the hips descend deeper into the range-of-motion. 

- The terminal end point of the eccentric should be when the bar path (plane the bar is moving in) begins to deviate towards the box/bench. At this point, the eccentric can be discontinued to shift back into the concentric powerfully.



- Low Back Pain

- Tight Hip Flexors

- Pregnant or Postpartum



- Barbell Floor Glute Bridge

- Smith or Machine Hip Thrust

- DB Hip Thrust

- Feet Elevated Hip Thrust (light or unloaded)

- Band or Cable Kneeling Hip Thrust



- Deadstop Hip Thrust

- Banded Barbell Hip Thrust

- B Stance Barbell Hip Thrust

- Single Leg Barbell Hip Thrust


Volume Parameters:

-2-5 sets per session

- 8-15 sets per week (depending on frequency and variations)

- 5-20 rep range


Applicable Intensity Techniques:

- Cluster Sets

- Rest Pause Sets

- Myoreps

- Mechanical Drop Sets (Going from B Stance to Bilateral is a favorite!)

- Supersets (These work very well with shortened/lengthened supersets as the first movement followed by a hinge or squat pattern. My personal go-to is hip thrusts to walking lunges!)

- Marathon Sets (These are great for metabolic work and volume density)


Programming Considerations:

The Hip Thrust is one of the most versatile exercises in the glute connoisseur's playbook. It is relatively new on the scene as far as historical base movement patterns go, but it has been thrust (hehe) into the limelight over the past decade; seeing widespread adoption and developing a rather cult-like following. The "why" behind this is rather obvious...Everyone wants a better butt! And the glute-ification of the media's fascination as well as the heavy bias in women's physique sports have blasted the Hip Thrust into the stratosphere of lifting culture. At this point, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more oft programmed exercise across all demographics and levels. 

Hip Thrusts find much of their utility in their additive nature; they can slide in almost seamlessly without needing to overhaul an existing program. There is low propensity for mechanical damage from muscle lengthening or eccentric overloading (think stiff leg deadlifts and the hamstrings). Axial loading is minimal allowing for more volume to be added without becoming detrimental to the system (i.e. one unit of volume of hip thrusts is significantly less stressful than that of barbell back squats). Because the hip extension pattern is essentially unique to hip thrusts and variations of bridges, this stimulus does not occur unless purposefully sought out (this is comparable to training your biceps only through heavy back work rather than direct biceps curls). Though ancillary muscles like the quads, hamstrings and erectors play a role in the hip thrust, it can effectively be viewed as an isolation movement for the glutes which carries massive weight for those attempting to concentrate hypertrophy (like the bikini competitor who gets marked down for poor glute to quad/hamstring proportions).

As a general rule of thumb, the priority level placed on the Hip Thrust, especially the barbell variant, will be solely dependent on the macro goal of the trainee. It can be used as a main movement and done for low reps with high intensity, aiming for power expression through hip extension like a sprinter would need. Hypertrophic overloading can be done with low to moderate rep ranges but higher volumes. We can even incorporate metabolic work through high rep and time-under-tension sets to fully take advantage of the quasi-isolation qualities of the movement. Clearly if glute hypertrophy and strength are important, some iteration of hip thrusting should be programmed into the macrocycle. 

As a final point in favor, risk aversion should always be a primary concern when evaluating a program, and Hip Thrusts are one of the safest movements out there. There are very few associated contraindications or prerequisites. Not many people will injure themselves attempting this pattern no matter how heavy they load it or how shitty their technique is. It is just not a risky exercise in totality which expands its moat. 

Ok, let's break up the love fest here for a minute...

Hip Thrusts are not this divine movement sent down from Olympus by JLo, Goddess of the Booty. 

People have been able to grow their glutes just fine for decades before anyone ever had the bright idea of sexualizing a barbell. (Bret Contrares...why bro?)

A well-rounded lower body program consisting of squats, leg press, RDLs, lunges, and abduction work will get you 95% of the way there. Hip Thrusts are unique and have a defined place, but let's stop being so dogmatic about them. Just because you start thrusting 3x week doesn't mean your butt will automatically fill out those Lulu leggings. Going through the motions week after week in search of the "perfect" mind-muscle connection isn't going to be your ticket to Willy Wonka's Dump Truck Factory. Focusing more on whether what you're doing is called a bridge or a thrust doesn't give your ass a Super Mario mushroom to double in size. 

Again, Hip Thrusts are awesome! But let's bring it back to first principles here...Add load and volume over time to get stronger and be able to handle more work. This increase in strength and capacity will then translate in higher growth potential for the glutes. It can be dressed in many bells and whistles but at the end of the day, Hip Thrusts allow us to overload a forgotten aspect of the glutes: the end range of contraction. Get stronger here and maybe that derriere will start getting you all the unwanted public attention you've always dreamed of feigning disgust over.


Primary Use Case:

- Hypertrophy of the Glutes 

- Increased strength and power through hip extension

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