How to Do Hip Thrusts With Perfect Form

Learning how to perform hip thrusts with the correct form will help you get the greatest strength gains from the glutes exercise.

Credit: Jason Pak / LIVESTRONG.com

Learning how to perform hip thrusts is sort of a prerequisite if you want to strengthen and build your glutes. OK, you really should never feel like you need to do any exercise, but the Hip Thrust (HT) is hands down the best gluteus exercise ever.

  • What is a hip bump?It is a lower body exercise that involves sitting with your back against a bench on the floor, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and then hips raised toward the ceiling.
  • What muscles does the hip thrust work?It isolates the gluteus muscles and focuses on the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the body.
  • Who can do this exercise?It’s safe for all ages and fitness levels. “Most people can do it in a simple training session because it requires less skill and is suitable for many body types,” says Lisa Schroeder, CPT, certified personal trainer at Life Time Chanhassen.
  • Are hip kicks as good as squats and deadlifts?Research actually suggests that they build your glutes better than squats or deadlifts – more on that later. Compared to squats and deadlifts, HTs also require less core stability, coordination, and spinal extension, making the general pattern of movement easier to master.
  • Can you do a hip bump at home?You have the choice. You can do this with your body weight or place a mini band over your knees to increase glutes and minimum activation. When you’re ready to add another challenge, use a dumbbell or barbell.

How to perform hip kicks with barbells

Trainer Jason Pak demonstrates how to do hip kicks with a barbell

Credit: Jason Pak / LIVESTRONG.com

Hip push shape

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Skill level

All levels

activity

Barbell training

body part

butt

  1. Sit on the floor next to a weighted barbell, with your center back against the edge of a bench or box.
  2. Place your feet on the floor about hip-width apart. Your feet can be turned out slightly depending on what is comfortable for you.
  3. Place some kind of cushion (towel, knee flexion sponge, Hampton rod cushion, Airex cushion) on your pelvis. You can also put a barbell sleeve around the bar so you don’t have to worry about anything shifting.
  4. Roll the barbell on the crook of your hip.
  5. Squeeze your glutes together and push through your heels to lift your hips and weight towards the ceiling. Keep your back flat with your head facing the wall in front of you.
  6. Lock your hips at the top of the motion by fully extending your hips and squeezing your glutes. Your shins should be vertical, your knees neutral or turned slightly outward, and your legs should form a 90-degree angle.
  7. Take a break, then slowly lower your hips to return to the starting position.

Show instructions

Proper setup and hip thrust shape are key to getting your glutes into the driver’s seat and getting the most out of this exercise. Follow these tips to learn how to most effectively perform hip thrusts.

For the easiest way to set up the HT, it is important that your barbell is loaded with rubber weight plates. These soft, round weight plates are much larger than traditional metal plates. When using rubber plates, the dumbbell stays high above the floor. This allows you to stand under the bar with your body.

Always secure your weight plates with clips.

2. Make sure the bench is touching your middle back

Find a bench that will reach your middle back when you sit on the floor. If you are using a high bench, sit on a mat or mat to lift your body.

When your bench is too high on your back, you can’t get as much leverage from your hips, says Jason Pak, CPT, Certified Personal Trainer, USA Weightlifting – Certified Athletic Performance Trainer and co-owner of Achieve Fitness Boston.

When performed ideally, HT is an isolation exercise for the gluteal muscles. But the placement of your foot has a huge impact on which muscles you actually train.

Most people feel the strongest burning of the buttocks when their feet are set up so that their shins are perfectly perpendicular and perpendicular to the floor in the top of the movement, says Schroeder. However, some people feel greater buttock recruitment when their feet are closer to or further from their hips.

Golden rule: if you feel your hamstrings working harder than your glutes, bring your heels closer to your hips. When your quads are in overdrive, move your heels an inch or so further from your hips.

Adjust until you find the position that best isolates your glutes. That is the setup that you want to use in the future.

4. Drive your heels into the ground

Pushing through your heels instead of your forefoot or toes is another great way to activate your glutes, says Schroeder. Focus on keeping your heels on the ground throughout the exercise. (You can lift your toes up a bit if it helps you stay honest.)

Then, to start each rep and prop your hips up, press your heels firmly into the floor.

Keep your tailbone pulled in and flat during the exercise, Pak says. This will help you focus on your glutes and keep your lower back from taking control. It also reduces the likelihood of lower back discomfort.

As you lower your hips on each rep, remember to rock your back against the bench and avoid the temptation to arch your back around its edge.

Your neck plays a role in keeping your back flat, he says. So instead of letting your head fall back in line with the bench, keep your chin slightly lowered toward your chest. Keep your eyes on the wall in front of you throughout the exercise and your head will naturally stay in place.

The lockout position at the top is where you will get maximum gluteus gains, so it is important that you hold onto this part.

To help you achieve a complete lockout, give your glutes one final extra pressure on top, says Schroeder.

Performing this exercise at a constant, steady pace can ensure that you are really firing up your glutes and not using momentum.

“It can be helpful to slow down the movement and count a pace: 2 to 3 seconds up and 2 to 3 seconds down,” says Schroeder. “Creating tension and metabolic stress in your buttocks is the whole purpose of a barbell hip push. If you drop the weight too quickly, you lose time stressing and activating your glutes.”

2 modifications to make HTs easier

Train 1: dumbbell

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activity

Dumbbell training

  1. Sit on the floor with your middle back against the edge of a bench or box and place a dumbbell on your hips, holding it with both hands.
  2. Squeeze your glutes together and push through your heels to lift your hips and weight towards the ceiling.
  3. Take a break, then slowly lower your hips to return to the starting position.

Show instructions

When learning hip thrusts, it can be helpful to start with a dumbbell. You can either hold a single weight (as pictured) or two weights, with one on each hip, Schroeder says.

Train 2: resistance band

activity

Resistance band training

  1. Sit on the floor with your middle back against the edge of a bench or box. Anchor the ends of a resistance band on each side to a dumbbell on the floor so that the band rests on your hips. Extend your arms to your sides and place them on the bench.
  2. Squeeze your glutes together and push through your heels to raise your hips toward the ceiling.
  3. Take a break, then slowly lower your hips to return to the starting position.

Show instructions

This banded HT is a great way to teach your muscles how to perform a hip thrust with the correct shape. It’s also a suitable option if you don’t want to hold anything in your hands or if you find it uncomfortable to put a weight on your hips.

Adding a band to the HT creates more resistance at the top of the movement (when your hips are fully extended) and increases the buttocking effects of that movement, Pak explains.

2 advances to make HTs tougher

Movement 1: Isometric Hold

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  1. Sit on the floor with your middle back against the edge of a bench or box and place a barbell on your hips, holding it with both hands.
  2. Squeeze your glutes together and push through your heels to lift your hips and weight towards the ceiling.
  3. Pause for a few seconds, then slowly lower your hips to return to the starting position.

Show instructions

A break at the top of the movement will keep your glutes under tension for an extended period of time. This promotes stronger muscle growth.

Pull 2: 1.5 HT

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  1. Sit on the floor with your middle back against the edge of a bench or box and place a barbell on your hips, holding it with both hands.
  2. Squeeze your glutes together and push through your heels to lift your hips and weight towards the ceiling.
  3. Lower your hips halfway down, then push them back up to full extension before lowering them all the way back down to the starting position.

Show instructions

Just like the isometric barbell hold, this partial rep progression sets your glutes on fire by increasing the amount of time they are under tension.

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