Barbell Hip Thrust

Barbell hip thrusts work your glutes and hamstrings using significant amounts of load (and plenty of padding). The hip thrust is a posterior chain-based movement that works your glutes the most in a shortened position so you can perform it relatively safely and often.

The Barbell Hip Thrust increases the challenge on your glutes in comparison to the Barbell Glute Bridge by increasing the range of motion that your body works through.

For more glute strengthening exercises, look through our exercise database.

Barbell Hip Thrust

Here's How to Perform the Barbell Hip Thrust:

  • Set your upper back across a bench, hip thruster, or sturdy, padded surface. Some hip thrust with a bench just beneath their shoulder blades. Others place the bench lower at about their mid-back. Before performing your reps, you can "walk" your shoulders back into your favorite position.
  • Your setup will mimic that of a bodyweight hip thrust (or glute bridge). Find the foot position, distance, and weight placement that leaves you feeling this exercise the most in your glutes at the top of each rep.
  • Here are the options for stance and foot placement relative to your hips:
    • Keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.
    • Moving your legs close together, more narrow than your hips.
    • Widening your stance, keeping your feet all outside your hips.
    • Feet close to your butt - less than 90 degrees.
    • Moving your feet further from your butt or greater than 90 degrees.
    • Somewhere between the first two, your feet fall around a place where you'll be at a 90-degree angle with your glutes fully squeezed at the top.
  • Make sure that your knee is aligned over the middle of your foot throughout each thrust.
  • Hip anatomy determines both the shape of your glutes and the stance that you'll prefer to perform these in. Don't be afraid to periodically evaluate if you've found the right placement for you.
  • Since your hamstrings also act to extend your hips, it might take some concentration or finessing to find your best position. You're on the right track if you start to feel a pump or burn in your glutes after performing a high rep set. For example 12-20 reps.
  • Perform a mini crunch or posteriorly tilt your pelvis to get your core in a good position to engage.
  • Brace your core and draw in your breath through your nose.
  • Squeeze your glutes and "lock" your hips out with each rep.
    • This hip tuck may be different from how you're used to performing the hip thrust but it engages your core a bit differently than an anterior tilt.
  • There are two finishing positions for your eyes and chest that people gravitate towards:
  • 1. Tucking, keeping your eyes and chest forward throughout the move. Another way to think about it is to keep your chin tucked to your chest, moving only through the hips.
  • 2. Letting the eyes and chest pivot upward. Scooping, finishing each rep staring towards the sky with your neck in a neutral position although unsupported.
  • Depending on how much weight you're trying to move, you might find the "tuck" position as one that you feel more while the "scoop" may allow you to move bigger weights.
    • See which variation you feel most in your glutes. You can use both variations if you'd like with different intentions. For example, scooping for heavy sets of 3-5, tilting for reps closer to 6-15.
  • Perform the lowering phase of each rep by concentrating on your glutes, allowing them to length and relax under control as you reach the bottom.
  • Draw your breath in again and squeeze your glutes hard before starting your next.

Progression - You can increase the difficulty of the barbell hip thrust using several methods:

  • Add more weight to the bar.
  • Performing 1.5 reps (increasing your glutes time under maximum tension)
  • Place a band around your knees to increase the torque at your hips. Your Glute Medius will work hard to keep your knees apart.

If you need an easier variation try a barbell glute bridge or, start by performing your hip thrusts with bodyweight for high reps, with short rests. Think 20-30 with 20-30 second rest periods.

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