Glute strength is essential for preventing injury and improving athletic performance, and the hip thrust is one of the most effective glute-building exercises. It also improves stability and reduces the risk of back pain, knee pain and other lower body injuries.
A hip thrust is a great way to strengthen your glutes and other important lower body muscles, and it can be incorporated into any workout program for its versatility and benefits. To make a hip thrust work for you, though, it’s important to do it correctly. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of this exercise:
Form Tip #1: Foot Position
While no single foot position is ideal for everyone, try to find a stance that feels natural to your body. This will help you avoid common mistakes like letting your hamstrings, or the muscles in the back of your upper legs, dominate the movement.
Next, focus on keeping your body in a straight line from head to knee when performing the hip thrust. This position is called the “tabletop” position and will allow you to activate your glutes more effectively, says DeMattos.
Once you’ve found a position that works for your body, perform the hip thrust until your glutes feel tired. Then, add a little resistance with a dumbbell or barbell and repeat the move.
Another option for increasing the difficulty of a hip thrust is to pause at the top of each repetition. This allows you to use more of your glutes and core to power the lift, so you can get even stronger in just a few more reps!
A third tip is to ensure that you’re not using your upper back to initiate the movement. This is a common mistake for new lifters and ego lifters, so keep your back neutral and your torso braced during the exercise.
Some lifters also round their backs at the top of the movement, which can lead to low back strain or injury. A more optimal hip thrust variation is the step-up, which focuses on your knee position and involvement instead of your back and shoulders.
In addition, many beginners and ego lifters don’t hold a steady eccentric tempo when doing the hip thrust. This lack of control can lead to less-than-optimal training results and potential injury, says DeMattos.
During the rep, hold a tight grip on the barbell, squeezing your glutes and bracing your abs. Then, drive your feet into the ground to lift your hips to shoulder height.
This will allow your hips to contract and extend properly throughout the entire range of motion. A final tip to improve the hip thrust is to lower the barbell enough for an adequate eccentric load before each repetition, says DeMattos.
If you have problems with your hips getting weak during this exercise, try a hip bridge instead. This is performed on the floor without a bench, and can be done with your bodyweight or with added resistance for an additional challenge.