Category Archives: Glute Training

Squats Versus Hip Thrusts Part II: The Twin Experiment

Quick Summary:

  • Squats and hip thrusts both lead to improvements in squat strength, hip thrust strength, horizontal pushing force, and upper and lower gluteus maximus hypertrophy
  • Squats are better suited at increasing squat strength, at least in this experiment
  • Hip thrusts are better suited at increasing hip thrust strength, maximum horizontal pushing force, and upper and lower gluteus maximus hypertrophy, at least in this experiment
  • Squats grew the upper glutes by 20% and lower glutes by 21% over the 6-week period
  • Hip thrusts grew the upper glutes by 28% and lower glutes by 28% over the 6-week period
  • Squats increased maximum horizontal pushing force by 20%, hip thrusts increased maximum horizontal pushing force by 32%.
  • A randomized controlled trial with ample subjects is needed to expand upon these findings

Hi Fitness Friends! This is part II of a 5-part series on squats versus hip thrusts. The data from this series comes from my doctoral thesis, which should hopefully be posted online for anyone to read next year (assuming I pass my defense in December…wouldn’t it be hilarious if I hyped this up and then failed my defense and PhD?). Parts I and III will look at mechanistic data, namely what happens when you perform the two exercises while wearing electrodes or while on top of a force plate. Parts II and IV will look at what actually happens following a 6-week training protocol. Part V will summarize the findings and point out limitations and directions for future research. I posted part I last week, this article is part II, and I’ll post parts III-V over the next couple of weeks.

  • Squats Versus Hip Thrusts Part I: EMG Activity
  • Squats Versus Hip Thrusts Part II: The Twin Experiment
  • Squats Versus Hip Thrusts Part III: Forcetime Data
  • Squats Versus Hip Thrusts Part IV: Training Effects
  • Squats Versus Hip Thrusts Part V: Wrap-Up

As many of you know, I recently trained a pair of identical twin sisters three times per week for 6 weeks using a daily undulated (DUP) approach, with one performing only squats for lower body and the other performing only hip thrusts. It was cool to attain a pair of identical twins since the genetics of strength and hypertrophy gains is huge (see HERE for an intriguing write-up from yours truly from 4 yrs ago). The twins have been exercising regularly for 12 years (randomly, their dad is actually the inventor of Powerblock dumbbells!), but they’d never progressively trained the squat or the hip thrust. The 6-week program led to incredible gains in strength, glute mass, and function, and I’m excited to share the results with you below.

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Force Vector Theory

First, let me set the stage. In 2009-2010, I created a theoretical model pertaining to transfer of strength training to performance that related to the force vector. Of course, there are many more factors to consider with regards to transfer of training, but I surmised that the force vector played a huge role in determining the nature of transfer to sport action and functional performance. HERE is the article I wrote on my blog six years ago, but I’d prefer that you click on THIS link as I updated the article  for the NSCA’s website last year.


The model was accepted and applauded by many S&C professionals and scoffed and ridiculed by others. Even now, there isn’t much previous research to go by as the published studies examining the transfer of horizontal to vertical exercise and vice versa mainly used plyometric and not strength exercises. There are plenty of correlational studies to go by, but correlation does not imply causation.

Horizontal Force Test

While this “Force Vector Theory” is sexy and intriguing, it was purely theoretical. There were no experiments that had been conducted to test the model’s validity. While there are numerous tests of vertical strength that have been previously used in sports science, for example the 1RM squat, 1RM deadlift, isometric squat, and isometric mid-thigh pull, there isn’t a single horizontal force test used previously in the literature. That is, until now.

I came up with the idea of a maximum horizontal push test during my last week in New Zealand several years back, and it’s such an obvious effective test in my opinion; it should be used frequently in future research to come. To perform the test, you simply stand on a force plate with your arms parallel to the ground and your torso at a 45 degree angle and push into the wall as hard as possible for 3-seconds while standing on the dominant limb. Maximum horizontal force is recorded over 3 trials, and you record the average peak force of the 3 trials. I put grip tape on the force plate and set it on a rubber mat to ensure that no slipping or sliding occurs. We tested the reliability of this test and it’s very reliable. This will be published in time.

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The Maximum Horizontal Push Test: a very reliable test for measuring maximum horizontal force production

The Training

Three times per week, the twins performed 3-5 sets of 6-15 reps of their individual lift (hip thrusts or parallel back squats). Day one was 4 x 10 (with around 75% of 1RM), day two was 5 x 6 (with around 85% of 1RM), and day three was 3 x 15 (with around 65% of 1RM). However, if the subject could perform more reps on the last set, she did (so the last set was an AMRAP set which stands for “as many reps as possible”).

After their lower body lift, the twins performed 2 sets of either incline press, bench press, or close grip bench press, then 2 sets of either inverted rows, lat pulldowns, or negative chin ups, then 2 sets of either ab mat crunches, straight leg sit ups, or hanging leg raises.

Loads were increased each week. It should be pointed out that the twins’ weight didn’t change much throughout the study and they were instructed to follow identical caloric and macronutrient plans throughout the 6 weeks.

The Results (and Some Observations)

Squatting or hip thrusting 18 times over a 6 week period in a DUP fashion elicited the following results:

Twin Chart

Click on the chart for a larger image

Early on in the study, I realized that the time under tension (TUT) in the squat was way higher than the hip thrust. The twin performing squats was taking much longer to complete her sets (due to the greater ROM and slower eccentric phase) than the twin performing hip thrusts. Conversely, the volume load (VL) in the hip thrust was way higher than the squat. The twin performing hip thrusts used much heavier loads and did more reps (due to the AMRAP sets) than the twin performing squats.

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I calculated the time under tension and the volume loads for the entire 6-week period (18 sessions). Squat TUT was 2,964 seconds whereas hip thrust TUT was 1,386 seconds. Squat VL was 25,143 kgs whereas hip thrust VL was 58,978 kgs. Interestingly, when multiplying the TUT by VL (I suppose this is slightly similar to impulse, but not quite the same), the two protocols yielded similar data (squat 75,000,000 kg*s and hip thrust 82,000,000 kg*s). These data don’t completely jibe with our force plate findings that you’ll read about in part III, so it can’t be said that everyone experiences these same results. However, it probably applies well to taller, lankier individuals.

As per the law of specificity, the squat improves the squat better than the hip thrust and the hip thrust improves the hip thrust better than the squat. However, with these twins, the hip thrust built the squat to a better degree than the squat built the hip thrust. This doesn’t hold true in a bigger group, as you’ll see in Part IV of this series that the two lifts transfer pretty equally to one another.

What fascinated me is that the twin that performed hip thrusts didn’t perform a single squat during the six weeks. She never even performed a bodyweight squat during her general warm-up. Her 1RM at the beginning of the test was 95 lbs, but at the end of the six week hip thrusting protocol, she could squat 135 lbs with better form. It just looked cleaner and smoother. Conversely, the twin that performed squats didn’t improve her hip thrust form much…in fact she seemed to get worse at the hip thrust in that she didn’t want to lock out the load and achieve full hip extension. It’s important to note that this is just a single subject design involving two subjects; it’s not a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a sufficient sample size.

The squat twin started out squatting 95 lbs and hip thrusting 225 lbs and ended up squatting 155 lbs (60 lb improvement) and hip thrusting 265 lbs (40 lb improvement). The hip thrust twin started out squatting 95 lbs and hip thrusting 195 lbs and ended up squatting 135 lbs (40 lb improvement) and hip thrusting 315 lbs (125 lb improvement).

Based on this experiment, it appears that the hip thrust is better suited for improving maximum horizontal pushing force than the squat. The squat twin started off exerting 309 Newtons of horizontal force into the wall and ended up with 370 Newtons. The hip thrust twin started off exerting 320 Newtons of horizontal force into the wall and ended up with 422 Newtons. These were calculated 3 times on 3 separate days so they’re definitely legit.

Interestingly and anecdotally, I’ve always noticed that I can generate a ton of horizontal force even though my squat sucks. In high school football, I was very good at slamming into opponents and pushing them forward, and I had the weakest squat in the history of mankind. When my interns Andrew Serrano and Joey Percia were with me, we did a horizontal force test and I could outperform both of them, but their vertical force production was much higher than mine as they could probably perform 10 reps with my 1RM squat. I can out hip thrust them, so this jibes with the twin findings. A comprehensive RCT is needed to test the hypothesis that hip thrusts are better suited than squats at improving the maximum horizontal push test.

During the 6 weeks, the hip thrust twin kept talking about how she could feel her entire glutes getting bigger and rounder, however the squat twin would remark that she could feel her lower glutes getting more muscular. I believed that the ultrasound findings would mimic the EMG findings in that hip thrusts would grow the entire glutes whereas squats would preferentially grow the lower glutes, but this wasn’t the case. Based on this experiment, the hip thrust appears to be better at building the glutes than the squat, but the squat is still highly effective at packing on glute mass. And interestingly, the squat still builds upper glute mass even though it doesn’t lead to high levels of activation. An RCT with sufficient sample size is clearly needed to expand upon these findings.

As a personal trainer, I can attest that these twins are fast responders with regards to glute gains, and their muscle thickness results are very impressive compared to those of other muscles in other studies, however there are a couple of studies that show similar gains in muscle thickness in a 6 week period (but it didn’t examine the glutes). Surprisingly, this is the very first experiment that has examined gluteus maximus hypertrophy in the barbell squat and in the barbell hip thrust. Let’s get with the program sports science researchers!!!

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This experiment lends support to the force vector transfer of training theory. It will hopefully be published in time so you can examine a full report of the methods.

Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks to learn how squats compare to hip thrusts in forcetime data (barbell displacement, set duration, force, work, impulse, and power) and in transfer to training (vertical and horizontal jump, 10 and 20m acceleration, 3RM front squat and hip thrust, and maximum isometric mid-thigh pull).


Squats Versus Hip Thrusts Part I: EMG Activity

I’m very proud to announce that today, the first original research from my PhD thesis was published ahead of print on the Journal of Applied Biomechanics website. HERE is the link to the abstract on PubMed, and HERE is a link to the abstract on the JAB site. If you want the full paper, I’ve uploaded it into my site HERE. Published ahead of print articles usually aren’t fully-formatted, which makes for a rather annoying reading experience because there’s just a sea of writing with all the tables and figures tacked onto the end of the article.

Good Science Requires Patience

A good scientist is patient. This EMG paper is not the “nail-in-the-coffin” with regards to the “Which is superior for glute hypertrophy – squats or hip thrusts?” controversy. We need more research. EMG doesn’t measure hypertrophy; it measures muscle activation. This study is a cross-sectional study that examined mechanisms of hypertrophy. What we need are a handful of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), with each hopefully painting a similar picture with the data. Here’s a quote from the discussion portion of the study:

“Caution should be taken when interpreting the practical implications of this study. It is tempting to speculate that muscle activity can be used as a gauge to predict strength and hypertrophy gains. After all, two recent papers have linked muscle activation with hypertrophy (52, 53), and another with strength gains (54). However, at this point in time no training studies have been conducted comparing the hypertrophic effects or transfer of training in the back squat and barbell hip thrust exercises. Future research needs to be conducted to 1) test the hypothesis that the barbell hip thrust exercise leads to greater gluteus maximus and hamstrings hypertrophy than the back squat exercise, 2) discern whether adaptations transfer to sports performance, particularly in relation to sprint running, 3) verify that male and female subjects activate their hip and thigh muscles similarly during the back squat and barbell hip thrust exercises, and 4) analyze the joint range of motion, heart rate, force, velocity, power, joint power, impulse, work, and torque angle curves between the back squat and barbell hip thrust exercises.”

Much of this needed research is currently underway, so you can expect plenty of interesting data to come. EMG provides mechanistic clues with regards to training outcomes. I happen to be a supporter of EMG and I believe that surface EMG data can indeed be used to help ascertain exercise superiority for hypertrophic purposes, especially for large muscles like the gluteus maximus. However, there are three primary mechanisms of hypertrophy (click HERE for a primer on this topic), with activation influencing tension and metabolic stress to a greater degree than damage. In addition, EMG has its share of limitations (click HERE and HERE for two articles on this topic). Therefore, the “team hip thrust” camp needs to wait until more research emerges to before they do the crotch chop dance in front of the “team squat” camp.

Not there yet team hip thrusts...

Not there yet team hip thrusts…

What I Love About Science

Science hones in on the truth over time. You’ve got this vocal guy (me) who has championed hip thrusts over the past nine years (6 years online). You’ve got all sorts of trainers, coaches, athletes, bikini competitors, and physical therapists around the globe who are in agreement with the efficacy of hip thrusts. On the other hand, you’ve also got a bunch of skeptics who apparently think that the hip thrust is moronic, inefficient, and/or non-functional (I’ve noticed that these people tend to have their own forums, they tend to need to be perceived as world experts on every topic, they tend to dis on anything they didn’t think of first, and they tend to not conduct any research of their own – they just dis on research that emerges, but I digress).

Here’s what I love about science…it doesn’t matter what in the hell I say. It doesn’t matter what in the hell these other people say. The truth is the truth. Science is true whether you believe in it or not. The “truth” about hip thrusts exists. It’s up to us (humans) to discover the truth through research and experimentation.

In five years, we’re going to know much, much more about hip thrusts. I will personally publish probably a dozen papers on the topic, but I expect many other researchers and labs to take interest in the hip thrust and start conducting research (both mechanistic and training studies) on them as well.

My thesis is just the start. I have examined 1) the EMG activity between squats and hip thrusts, 2) the EMG activity of 3 different squat variations, 3) the EMG activity of 3 different hip thrust variations, 4) the force, power, work, and impulse between squats and hip thrusts, 5) the transfer to vertical and horizontal jump, 10 and 20m acceleration, 1RM front squat and hip thrust, and max isometric mid-thigh-pull between front squats and hip thrusts, and 6) the transfer to upper and lower gluteus maximus muscle thickness, 1RM squat and hip thrust, and max horizontal force between squats and hip thrusts in a pair of identical twins. This will provide a great foundation for future research and will generate many hypotheses that require testing.

Even after my thesis is published, we still won’t know much. We’ll definitely know a lot more than we previously did, but we need 50-100 quality studies on the hip thrust before we can confidently discuss its efficacy across the board for varying purposes and populations. The truth will emerge over time, and no guru (not me and not the naysayers) can effectively suppress the truth in the long run. Charismatic leaders can definitely distract people and lead them in the wrong directions, but in the end, science always prevails. Maybe I’ve led people in the wrong direction, and maybe the skeptics have led people in the wrong direction. Maybe the converse is true is well. The truth shall prevail.

In the End

In the end, what I can already say with MUCH confidence is that athletes should perform both squats and hip thrusts. Squats appear to outperform hip thrusts in certain very important outcomes and hip thrusts appear to outperform squats in certain very important outcomes. Most of you reading this are probably nodding your heads like, “no shit,” but there are indeed people that think you shouldn’t squat or shouldn’t hip thrust…hopefully their minds will be changed when they see my findings and future findings of others.

I would think that my TESTIMONIALS would have changed their minds, but apparently that doesn’t matter to them. Anecdotes are cool, but they’re not the be-all-end-all since variables are not controlled which prevents us from pinpointing the mechanisms responsible for improvements.

And Now, the EMG Study Findings

Again, click HERE to download the full paper. There isn’t much more I have to add that’s not included in the paper. The study examined 13 trained women. Here is a chart from the study:


As you can see, hip thrusts appear to be superior to squats in terms of upper gluteus maximus, lower gluteus maximus, and biceps femoris activity. Interestingly, vastus lateralis activity wasn’t far superior in squats compared to hip thrusts – this is something I noticed many years ago. Hip thrusts heavily activate the quads, but squats indeed have the edge considering that they move the knees through a much greater ROM and have slightly higher quad activation.

Here are some graphs that we made that didn’t make it into the article (I never agree with this practice, but peer reviewers want either a chart or a graph, but not both as they believe them to be redundant…I prefer both for numerical and visual puproses).


This shows mean activation for squats and hip thrusts


This shows peak activation for squats and hip thrusts

Isoholds: Bottom of the Squat Versus Top of the Hip Thrust

Here is some fascinating data. When I do a pause squat, I feel my glutes working very well. I’m sure that many of you do too. My glutes can get rather sore the next day as well if I do a high volume pause squat session – you can probably relate to this as well. However, the glutes (and the hamstrings for that matter) barely activate at the bottom of a squat. Vasti and the erector spinae activation is through the roof, but it seems that the hip extensors provide force mostly through stretch, not activation. This EMG data jives with the findings of Worrell et al. 2015 and Robertson et al. 2008. The gluteus maximus activates to a much greater degree in full hip extension compared to hip flexion, hence why the barbell hip thrust isohold is so high.

Battle of the Isoholds: Bottom Squat versus Top Hip Thrust in Muscle Activation

Battle of the Isoholds: Bottom Squat versus Top Hip Thrust in Muscle Activation

Iso Mean

This is average muscle activation in the isoholds (bottom of the squat and top of the hip thrust)

Iso Peak

This is the highest muscle activation in the isoholds (bottom of the squat and top of the hip thrust)


There will be much more research to come. We need a high quality training study that looks at actual muscle hypertrophy before confidently claiming that hip thrusts are superior to squats for gluteus maximus growth and development. Better yet, we need a dozen. In the meantime, we should certainly consider these EMG findings along with other forms of evidence such as anecdotes, tradition, logic, and expert opinion. However, we should properly frame these lesser forms of evidence (click HERE to read about the hierarchy of knowledge) and eagerly await the arrival of RCTs.

Team squat camp: You don’t need to dismiss surface EMG evidence and call this research idiotic; it provides good clues. These clues can be useful in predicting the transfer to various activities, which will emerge in time. You should, however, open your mind to the possibility that hip thrusts are indeed highly effective for glute growth

Team hip thrust camp: Don’t be jerks and claim that hip thrusts are superior to squats for glute growth; we don’t know that yet. They might or they might not be, but you don’t want to look like an idiot if the experimental data (actual hypertrophy) doesn’t jive with theoretical findings (EMG). It’s better to be cautious and reserved.

In summary, we’ll know more in time.

The Gluteus Medius – WTF?

Unless you’ve been in a cave over the past couple of decades, you’ve surely heard at some point about the importance of the gluteus medius in functional performance. To read a summary of the current gluteus medius research, please see Chris Beardsley’s excellent report HERE. Each of the gluteal muscles have functional subdivisions, and the gluteus medius has three distinct regions: anterior, middle, posterior.


Glutes: Minimus, Medius, Maximus

It is commonly thought that although the primary role of the gluteus medius is hip abduction (raising leg out to the side or stabilizing the hip during gait), the anterior (ventral) fibers of the gluteus medius assist in hip internal rotation whereas the posterior (dorsal) fibers of the gluteus medius assist in hip external rotation. This has been confirmed in studies measuring moment arms, and it’s explained in the end of the video below.

Interestingly, studies such as THIS brand new one have shown that the posterior fibers of the gluteus medius activate more highly with the hip in internal rotation compared to external rotation. I never gave this much thought until last Saturday when my friend Erin (HERE is her Instagram) visited me at my Glute Lab and trained her glutes (she’s competing tomorrow in bikini in Vegas at the NPC USA Nationals). If you recall, I interviewed Erin HERE where she presented my readers with a bunch of novel and effective band glute exercises. A few days ago I posted a band glute circuit Erin did on Instagram HERE and it received a lot of attention.

When she showed me the exercise below, I didn’t think much of it at first. Just seemed like another nifty hip external rotation exercise to me. However, I started thinking about it, and I quickly realized that this was hip internal rotation, pivoting around the feet. And it’s hip internal rotation in a fairly neutral hip position in terms of hip flexion/extension (it’s close to anatomical position in 0 degrees of hip flexion…considering the way she’s slightly anteriorly tilting her pelvis, I’d guess that she’s at 15 degrees of hip flexion below).

This caused me to be skeptical of this exercise as a glute builder. I know that Erin pays better attention to what areas of the glutes are being worked than pretty much any client I’ve ever trained, but this wasn’t in full agreement with the research.

I palpated Erin’s glutes and verified that it indeed heavily activated the upper glutes, and it seemed to me that the entire glute medius was firing, especially the posterior fibers. Wondering if maybe Erin is just unique in the way she fires her glutes, I tested 3 other clients two days later (and also on myself) and confirmed that their upper glutes fire very well during this band hip internal rotation exercise as well. I haven’t tested the gluteal EMG activity yet, but it’s pretty safe to say based on palpation that this exercise is a good glute exercise to include in your band circuit arsenal. I like to include various hip extension, hip abduction, and hip external rotation exercises, and now there’s this hip internal rotation exercise.

See upper x's - these mark the upper posterior, middle, and anterior origins.

See upper x’s – these mark the upper posterior, middle, and anterior origins used in THIS study.

Please give this unique exercise a try and pay attention (I palpated my own glutes) to what region you’re working – let me know if you think it’s the posterior fibers of the gluteus medius in addition to the entire glute medius, or the upper gluteus maximus.


Make sure to not perform this on a super tall bench as you want the hips to just be slightly flexed. I haven’t tried it out yet in neutral (lying flat on the ground), but Erin tried the exercise in greater hip flexion from an elevated bench and didn’t feel it working nearly as well. This is interesting considering that Delp found that hip internal rotation moment arms of the glute muscles increase in hip flexion…so this doesn’t agree with his findings.

It seems like there’s more to the glutes than previously thought and that we’re still coming up with interesting and efficient ways of activating and strengthening these important muscles.

glute med

The Hands-Free Hip Thrust: A Simple (Yet Very Effective) Hip Thrust Teaching Tool

The Hands-Free Hip Thrust: A Simple (Yet Very Effective) Hip Thrust Teaching Tool
By: Ben Bruno

I use hip thrusts extensively with virtually all of my clients, and one of the things I like most about them is that they’re relatively easy to learn and there’s a fast learning curve so most clients can get the hang out if quickly.

Still, there are a few issues that I tend to see arise repeatedly.

  1. It takes people a little while to figure out the proper bar position on the hips, and until you find that sweet spot it can be awkward and uncomfortable.
  1. The name “hip thrust” could imply a fast explosive movement, but I actually prefer that they be done in a controlled fashion with a brief pause at the top of each rep. Sometimes stronger clients start to let their form slip as the weight on the bar increases and they start to try to thrust up violently, often failing to achieve full hip extension at the top. I tell my clients that if they can’t pause at the top, the weight is too heavy.
  1. I notice that a lot of clients tend to go into anterior pelvic tilt and overarch the lower back, especially as the weight gets heavier. This not only takes the stress off the glutes, but it’s also potentially injurious for the lower back. In all fairness, I must say I’ve never seen or heard of anyone getting hurt from hip thrusts (another reason I like them), but it’s still a concern. For both effectiveness and safety it’s important to keep a neutral spine, or if anything even a slight posterior pelvic tilt as you thrust up.
  1. Some clients tend to push harder through one foot than the other, which is easy to spot just by looking at the bar.

As a trainer, I can queue clients ad naueseum when I see form flaws, but whenever possible, I prefer to give drills or exercises that teach them to do the exercise correctly without me giving them too many things to think about.

Enter the hands-free hip thrust.

I’ve found that for clients who struggle with the aforementioned hip thrust issues, doing them hands-free can clear them all up very quickly.

Here’s a video of what it looks like in action.

When you don’t have your hands to hold the bar in place it forces you to find the right positioning on your hips. Just be sure to keep your hands close to the bar in case you need to grab it quickly for whatever reason.

Furthermore, if you thrust up too fast and don’t control the weight, or if you push more through one foot than the other, there’s no way you’ll be able to balance the bar on your hips. Likewise, if you overarch the lower back, the bar will slide down your hips, giving you immediate feedback. In order to keep the bar positioned correctly, it requires you to keep a neutral spine with a very slight posterior pelvic tilt at the top.

In this sense, the hands-free hip thrust is a lot like the hands-free front squat, which I also love and use as a teaching tool.

Form issues with front squats tend to be similar to those with hip thrusts; people struggle to support the bar, and they also tend to rush the reps and lose proper body positioning and fold forward. By going hands-free, it teaches you to support the bar on the shoulders instead of relying on the hands, and it allows forces you to stay upright and do the reps in a controlled fashion.

It’s the same idea for hands-free hip thrusts.


As a teaching tool, I recommend doing sets of 8-10 reps. I actually like doing something similar to what I do with front squats which is going hands-free for a few warm-up sets and then switching to regular hip thrusts as the weight gets heavier. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that my clients are often stronger with their normal hip thrusts after warming up with the hands-free version.

Now it’s important to note that while this may be a good teaching tool, it’s not a beginner exercise. I wouldn’t start off teaching hip thrusts hands-free. But for clients who have some experience with hip thrusts but either complain about feeling them in the lower back, or for clients who’ve gotten stronger but done so at the expense of good form, this method is a great way to take a step back and reset the form before continuing to add more weight.


For stronger lifters, hands-free hip thrusts can also function as a great standalone exercise that allows you to get an awesome training effect with lighter loads. In this case, I like doing 1-2 higher rep sets of 15-20 reps after you’ve done your heavier sets. You won’t be able to handle as much weight, but a 20-rep set of these with pauses at the top has my glutes begging for mercy more than almost any hip thrust variation I’ve ever tried.

If you’re the type who enjoys watching others suffer, here’s me doing a 20 rep finisher.

Give these a try and see if it doesn’t clean up the technique and allow you to feel the exercise even more in your glutes and less in the lower back.

About the Author:

Ben Bruno is a personal trainer in Los Angeles, California. He also Ben-Brunopublishes a blog and free newsletter at You can connect with him on social media at the following places: