How To Do A Hip Thrust – Benefits, Proper Form, And Tips

  • By: gymtrix
  • Date: June 10, 2023
  • Time to read: 13 min.
How To Do A Hip Thrust

Do you want to improve your lower body strength and stability? If so, the hip thrust is an exercise that can help.

This powerful move targets several major muscles in your glutes, hips, upper back, core and even quads.

It’s a great addition to any fitness routine because it provides many physical benefits such as improved balance and power, better hip extension control, increased muscular endurance and more.

Whether you’re trying to become faster or stronger or just looking for a challenging workout the hip thrust is worth giving a try!

In this guide we’ll teach you how to do the correct form for hip thrusts step-by-step along with some tips and variations of this popular exercise.

Muscles Worked during a Hip Thrust Exercise

To understand the muscles worked during a hip thrust exercise, with a focus on the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and quadriceps, this section dives into the details. You’ll discover the benefits of each muscle group and how they’re targeted by this movement. Through examination of these sub-sections, you’ll gain insight into how to complete the exercise with proper form and avoid common mistakes.

Gluteus Maximus

The gluteus maximus is a huge, powerful muscle in the butt region. It helps with hip extension and external rotation. During a hip thrust exercise, it works hard to push the hips off the ground. This targets the glutes, making it an awesome exercise for toning them.

Other muscles used during the hip thrust are the hamstrings, quads, and lower back. But the glutes are the main focus.

For safety and great results, it’s important to get the form right. Ask a fitness pro for help before trying this exercise.

Hip thrusts were made in 2006 by Bret Contreras. He wanted to target and strengthen the glutes. Nowadays athletes and everyone else use them – they’re great for activating and toning the glutes.


The muscles responsible for hip extension are called the “hamstring” group. The hip thrust exercise targets these muscles, helping to build strength and endurance. With correct form and technique, individuals can engage their hamstrings, potentially improving athletic performance and reducing injury risk.

During a hip thrust, the individual lifts their pelvis up. This contracts the hamstrings statically. Repeating this, they get strengthened and toned. This makes hip thrusts effective, without added stress on joints and lower back.

Training hamstrings has a positive impact on posture. Weakness in the muscle group can lead to decreased lumbar stability, resulting in poor posture and balance. Strengthening the hamstrings is essential for other exercises like squats or weightlifting.

Research by Bret Contreras revealed that compared to other glute exercises, hip thrusts involve more hamstring activation, without affecting quadriceps activity. This could be because of the joint angle.

In conclusion: Hip thrusts target many muscle groups, including the hamstrings. Compared to other exercises, it is better for targeting these muscles.


The quads – rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and vastus intermedius – fire up during hip thrusts. These muscles extend the knee and flex the hip.

The quads work with other muscle groups to hold the pelvis steady during hip thrusts. Do the exercise one side at a time to target each quad.

Form is key for training the quads properly. Vary the exercise with resistance or greater range of motion to challenge the muscles.

Strong quads bolster lower body strength and power. Keep your posture correct when doing the exercise to protect your joints.

Studies show that 6 weeks of hip thrusts could boost squat performance (Bret Contreras).

Benefits of Doing a Hip Thrust Exercise

To understand the benefits of doing a hip thrust exercise with muscles worked, proper form and tips, and common mistakes and variations, consider the benefits it brings. By performing a hip thrust exercise, you can build muscular strength, improve your posture, and boost athletic performance. These three sub-sections illustrate the many benefits that hip thrusts can offer for your overall strength and fitness.

Builds Muscular Strength

Engages Multiple Muscles for Greater Strength Gains

Hip thrusts target glutes, hamstrings and lower back muscles. This gives a comprehensive workout for the entire posterior chain. Doing hip thrusts regularly can improve muscular endurance and strength. This helps with other exercises like deadlifts and squats.

Progressive Overload

Progression overload is a great way to get stronger quicker. It uses heavier weights or more reps. With hip thrusts, you can add weight gradually. This leads to big gains over time. Perfect for those who want results quickly.

Avoiding Injury

Using heavy weights with poor technique can cause serious injury. Hip thrusts don’t need much effort from other body parts. So it’s a low-impact exercise. Make sure to use good form. Don’t add too much weight too quickly.

A Historical Perspective

Bret Contreras popularized hip thrusts around 2006. His book Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide To Building a Better Butt and Body was published in 2013. It’s credited with making hip thrusters popular among fitness fans globally.

Improves Posture

Hip thrust exercises can positively affect body posture. It strengthens the muscles in your lower back, hamstrings, and core to help your pelvis stay upright. This helps maintain correct spinal curvature, which can help prevent back pain from arthritis or other issues.

Also, doing hip thrusts can help better your breathing. Many people have shallow breathing due to bad posture from sitting or standing in incorrect positions. Doing hip thrusts can expand lung capacity.

A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed improved muscle activation with hip extension exercises, particularly hip thrusts.

So, hip thrusts can benefit not just your glutes but also your overall health and well-being.

Boosts Athletic Performance

Enhance your Athletics with Hip Thrusts!

Do you want to boost your athletic edge? Hip thrusts can help! Here are four ways they can do that:

  • Faster sprinting and more power.
  • Increased vertical jump height & explosiveness.
  • Better balance & stability in different movements.
  • Maintaining proper posture & reducing injury risk.

The hip thrust exercise also activates specific muscles essential for sports, such as glutes and hamstrings. This exercise is especially helpful for activities like basketball, football, & track.

Fun fact – the barbell hip thrust exercise was created by Bret Contreras in 2006. He wanted to find a way to isolate glutes during resistance training. Nowadays, there are many variations of hip thrust exercises, but all of them keep their original benefits.

How To Do A Hip Thrust

To perform a hip thrust correctly, follow these steps:

  1. Set up your equipment: Place a barbell (with or without added weight, depending on your fitness level) across a padded squat sponge or folded towel to protect your hips. Position a sturdy bench or box behind you, ensuring that it won’t move during the exercise.
  2. Position yourself: Sit on the ground with your back against the bench, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. The bench should be positioned across your shoulder blades, just below your shoulder line. Roll the barbell over your thighs until it rests directly above your hip joints.
  3. Grip the bar: Hold the barbell with both hands, palms facing down, and position them shoulder-width apart. Your arms should be straight and resting on your thighs.
  4. Brace your core: Before initiating the movement, take a deep breath, and engage your core muscles by bracing your abs as if preparing for a punch.
  5. Perform the hip thrust: Drive through your heels and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips off the ground. Keep your chin tucked and eyes looking forward to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement. Raise your hips until they are in line with your knees and shoulders, forming a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold this position for a brief moment, focusing on squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
  6. Lower your hips: Slowly lower your hips back down to the ground in a controlled manner, releasing the tension in your glutes before starting the next repetition.
  7. Repeat: Perform the desired number of repetitions and sets, maintaining proper form throughout the exercise.

Proper Form for a Hip Thrust

To ensure you execute the perfect hip thrust with muscles worked, benefits, and common mistakes covered, proper form is crucial. In order to achieve the most efficient form, we will discuss three key sub-sections – the position of your feet, alignment of your upper back on the bench, and proper hip alignment – each of which will make sure you get the most out of your hip thrust.

Position of the Feet

The ideal feet position for hip thrusts is key to achieving great results and avoiding injuries. Here are the instructions:

  • Place your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, not too close or too far.
  • Your feet should be flat on the ground, toes pointing straight ahead. This provides a stable base and prevents injury.
  • Keep your knees in line with your ankles. Push outward with resistance bands or weights to activate outer thigh muscles.
  • For variation, try single-leg hip thrusts. One foot on the ground, the other extends outward at an angle without touching the ground.

You can also elevate your heels 2-4 inches for more hamstring muscle activation. But, be careful – improper posture can cause back pain.

If done correctly, hip thrusts can help improve athletic performance by building strength and endurance in glutes, hamstrings and quads.

Upper Back on the Bench

For optimal hip thrusts, you must have your upper back near your spine on a firm platform or bench. Place your shoulders near the edge, with your head and upper back on it. Put your feet in front of your knees, chest out, and chin slightly tucked. Avoid arching or straightening your neck. Each rep must maintain good form.

To avoid straining your muscles, don’t lean too far forward or back at the top. This will reduce the effectiveness of the glutes.

Brett Contreras popularized hip thrust exercises about 10 years ago because of his interest in biomechanics and glute development. Today, bodybuilders, powerlifters, and fitness enthusiasts around the world use this exercise for building strength and muscle mass.

Hip Alignment

Maintain Optimal Hips During Hip Thrusts!

Position your hips directly under your shoulders. Keep feet flat on the ground & your core engaged. Spine neutral. Don’t over-arch the lower back or tilt the pelvis down.

Focus on Squeezing Glutes at the Top of Each Rep!

Push up through heels & squeeze glutes tightly at the top. Hold briefly before lowering. This will help activate & strengthen glutes.

Don’t Overextend Hips Beyond Knees!

Avoid lifting hips beyond level of knees. Can cause excessive arch in lower back & risk injury.

Pro Tip: Add Resistance with Bands or Weights!

To enhance glute activation, add resistance bands or weights to increase resistance during each rep.

Tips for Doing a Hip Thrust

To perfect your hip thrusts and maximize the benefits, use these tips for doing a hip thrust with an emphasis on warm-up correctly, starting with light weights, and focusing on squeezing. Each of these sub-sections is designed to help you develop a safer and more effective hip thrust routine that will help you achieve your fitness goals.

Warm-up Correctly

Before you do hip thrusts, warm-up exercises are vital! This will stop injuries and help you get the most out of your workout. Here’s a 4-step guide:

  1. Engage your glutes and hamstrings with exercises such as glute bridges or band walks.
  2. Stretch with leg swings and fire hydrants to boost flexibility and mobility.
  3. Activate your core muscles, especially your transverse abdominis, with bird dogs or plank holds.
  4. Do light cardio to raise your heart rate and blood flow.

Be sure to use correct form and technique when doing each exercise. This way, you’ll target the right muscle groups properly and avoid injuries.

Don’t forget to warm-up! Even if you don’t have much time, skipping these steps can backfire. Your body needs to prep before doing any tough exercises.

Take the time to warm-up for hip thrusts. Your body will thank you!

Start with Light Weights

Start with bodyweight hip thrusts! Gradually add weight after warming up & completing two sets. Don’t rush this stage – take your time & practice precision. Once you feel comfortable, move onto heavier weights. Check with a healthcare professional before attempting any exercise regime.

Hip thrusts were introduced as an exercise by Bret Contreras in 2009. It’s a popular choice as it strengthens the lower back & improves glutes performance.

Focus on Squeezing

Prioritize squeezing your glutes to optimize hip thrust efficacy.
Engage glutes before initiating movement, to maintain control & alignment.
Exhale & squeeze glutes hard at top of lift for better contraction. Try isometric holds at peak height to emphasize engagement. Be wary of lower back discomfort, maintain core stability & monitor form.
Slow down each positive & negative movement to feel more isolated in proper muscle groups & improve overall stability.
Remember that hip thrusts are excellent for targeting glutes, however, they shouldn’t replace other exercises from a well-rounded workout routine.Balance between all muscle groups is key!

Common Mistakes while Doing a Hip Thrust

To avoid common mistakes while doing a hip thrust with proper form and technique, you need to pay attention to specific aspects of your body alignment. In this section, we will explore the mistakes commonly made during hip thrust exercises. Lack of hip alignment, overuse of back muscles, and overarching of the lower back are the sub-sections we will cover for a successful hip thrust exercise.

Lack of Hip Alignment

Hip Thrusts: Maintain Hip Alignment

When doing a hip thrust, proper hip alignment is key! Your feet should be flat and in line with your knees. Make sure your hips are level, not tilted. Engage your core to keep your body stable.

Remember: Don’t hyperextend your lower back. Your pelvis should not tilt too far forward or backward, as this could strain your lower back.

Before you begin, stretch and do warm-up exercises. This will activate your glutes and hip muscles, helping you perform the hip thrust correctly and avoid injury.

Overarching of the Lower Back

Fitness enthusiasts often make a common mistake when doing hip thrusts: an exaggerated anterior tilt of the pelvis and overextending the lower back leads to pressure on the spine and can lead to injury.

To prevent this, ensure your knees are bent at 90 degrees and your feet are flat on the ground. Additionally, avoid leaning back too far. Your breathing is also essential: take deep breaths as you push your hips up and exhale slowly as you lower them, for better control.

Failing to have the correct breathing technique can lead to functional imbalance, pain, and breathing issues.

A study showed that athletes who didn’t stay in proper form experienced pain before or after their workouts. Experiences like wearing snow boots in youth can cause lasting spinal deformities. Injury can be caused by inadequate exercise technique with incorrect form.

Correctly done hip thrusts can improve posture, boost energy, and power performance – consistency is key.

Overusing the Back Muscles

Doing a hip thrust can be tricky. One mistake is to rely too much on the back muscles. This can cause incorrect form and the risk of injury.

Focus on engaging the glutes and hamstrings. Keep your spine neutral. Relax your shoulders and distribute your weight across your feet.

Start with lower weights and slowly increase. Do fewer reps with the right technique instead of many with poor technique.

Don’t arch your back or hyperextend your neck. This puts strain on the lower back muscles.

Hip thrusts are great for strengthening the glutes and improving posture. But, you have to do them correctly to see the full benefits.

I saw someone in the gym using too much weight and doing them wrong. They ended up with bad pain and had to stop.

Variations of a Hip Thrust

To add some diversity in your workout routine with hip thrusts, try out these variations: Single-Leg Hip Thrust, Weighted Hip Thrust, and Resistance Band Hip Thrust. Incorporating these variations can help you target different muscles and achieve your fitness goals.

Single-Leg Hip Thrust

Perform the Unilateral Hip Thrust, a dynamic one-legged exercise. It targets your hamstrings, quads, glutes and lower back.

  1. Step 1: Lie on the floor with your back flat.
  2. Step 2: Bend one knee, keeping your foot on the ground, and extend the other leg.
  3. Step 3: Lift your hips off the ground, contracting your glutes and keeping your core tight.
  4. Step 4: Lower your hips lightly.
  5. Step 5: Repeat, then switch sides.

For more variety, use a resistance band or weights. These modifications help strengthen different muscles.

Fun fact: Bret Contreras invented this exercise to isolate and strengthen posterior chain muscles.

Weighted Hip Thrust

Do the Hip Thrust with Weights to engage your glutes, hamstrings, and low back muscles! Place a weight on your pelvic area, then contract your glutes and raise your hips towards the ceiling. Hold for a second or two, then repeat. Increase resistance levels gradually, and remember to perform movements in a controlled manner.

Before starting, warm up properly and seek professional help if you have any injuries or health issues. Additionally, avoid sagging head or neck during the exercise for your safety.

Resistance Band Hip Thrust

Strengthen Those Glutes with Banded Hip Bridges!

Banded hip bridges are a type of exercise that works the glutes and hamstrings with resistance bands. Doing this exercise can increase lower body strength, help posture, and reduce back pain.

Here’s a 3-step guide:

  1. Put a band around your thighs, just above the knees
  2. Lie on your back with feet flat, and knees bent to shoulder-width
  3. Engage glutes, lift hips off ground as high as possible, lower slowly

For maximum effect, try different band positions or foot placements. Keep controlled movements throughout for the best form.

Adding banded hip bridges to routine gym sessions is an effective way to target muscles without changing the regimen.

A trainer had a client with lower spine pain. As part of rehab, they introduced banded hip bridges. After weeks of consistent practice, their pain lessened due to stronger muscles.

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