Everything You Need to Know About the Hip Thrust

Since my birthday is tomorrow, I wanted to provide my readers with a good hip thrust video.

And for my birthday, I’d like for my readers to give the American hip thrust a try sometime this week and let me know in the comments section whether or not you feel it working more glute compared to other variations.

I think that this video will help answer many questions that trainers, coaches, and lifters may have regarding the movement. Be sure to watch the whole thing (just over 16 minutes long) – you’ll definitely learn a lot. Here’s the video:

Further Explanation of Some Concepts Mentioned in the Video

1. Torso Angle

Some folks prefer a high bench and don’t mind having a steep torso angle. I prefer to have my torso at 45 degrees or less at the start of the movement. The bench I’ve always used in Arizona is perfect in this regard, but the benches I used in New Zealand were too high.

Just Right vs. Too Steep

2. Spinal Position

An easy way to tell if the spine is being moved into extension is to watch the chest. If it stays flat then the movement is probably occurring mostly at the hips and the movement is being performed correctly. If the chest sticks out then the spine is overarching and the movement isn’t being performed correctly. The torso should be flat.

Just Right vs. Overarched

3. Hip Hyperextension or Posterior Pelvic Tilt?

Here is a video of Kellie Davis performing a hip thrust with hip hyperextension:

Most lifters will benefit from doing them this way, but occasionally some lifters might feel the the exercise too much in their lower backs.

For these lifters, it is appropriate to use a posterior pelvic tilting action, which will prevent any lumbar hyperextension from occurring at lockout.

Here’s a video of Molly Montgomery performing a hip thrust with posterior pelvic tilt:

It takes some experience with the hip thrust to notice the difference, but watch the lumbopelvic hip complex (LPHC) motion carefully and you’ll figure it out. Both options are perfectly fine.

Hip Hyperextension vs. Posterior Pelvic Tilt: Both are Good

Molly initially complained of lower back discomfort during hip thrusts but since then she’s performed them in this manner (with a PPT) and has never experienced issues ever since.

And by the way, Molly just competed last weekend and though you can’t tell because the picture was too far away, I believe that she had the best glutes in the entire competition. Hopefully I’ll get a better pic that I can post later on as her booty was quite the spectacle.

Molly Had the Most Spectacular Glutes in the Entire Competition.

4. American Hip Thrust – Best Glute Activator in Existence

I feel stupid for not realizing this in the past but I just noticed it last night. I was reviewing an old American hip thrust video and I noticed the strong posterior pelvic tilting action. In addition to heavier loads being used during this variation, you also combine the hip extension action of the gluteus maximus with the gluteus maximus’s posterior pelvic tilting action. This is why I get the most intense glute pump in my life when performing this variation.

I now believe that the American hip thrust should be performed much more frequently and that it’s without a doubt the most potent glute activating exercise known to man. I’ll be performing this variation more often.

Remember to give this variation a try and let me know in the comments if you feel it working more glute compared to other variations. Thanks!

108 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About the Hip Thrust

  1. Colt

    I tried the American hip thrust on a Smith machine. Worst idea ever. I’ll have to travel a little farther to get to a real rack but definitely worth it. I’d love to have a badonk like molly

    Reply
    1. Bret Post author

      Yeah I can’t see the Smith machine working well for this purpose…Molly just sent me more pics which I’ll post on Friday. Very nice! Thrust with free-weights and you’ll be much better off.

      Reply
  2. Kelly

    Been doing them on a regular gym bench and it’s challenging so I’m going to get the aerobics step bench you show here. Bret, my biggest problem is I’m only able to hip thrust about 65 lbs max, I’m a wus I know…5’4″ and 110 lbs…I’m working on it! I can’t use the big plates, so I can’t roll the bar, I end up having to pick it up from the seated position , one side at a time and am worried I’ll end up hurting myself. Any suggestions? Also, I appreciate the anterior/posterior tilt info. I do neuromuscular massage and work to correct poor posture therapeutically, and you don’t hear many people talk about it…so thanks!

    Reply
    1. Bret Post author

      Kelly, Rob and Will gave some good advice. I guess all I have to add is 1) I always place the bar in my client’s laps so it’s ideal to have a spotter/partner, and 2) Olympic bumper plates are nice as the 10′s and 25′s are the same size as the 45′s. Both of these options probably don’t apply to you, but it’s good to be aware of them.

      Reply
    2. Sheyna

      Hey Kelly, I had this problem as well and solved it by using the preloaded little barbells my gym has. Every gym I’ve ever belonged to has racks of them, but I’d use as heavy as I could manage to get onto my lap and then stick some plates on the end from there. Not an awesome solution but it was helpful until I worked up to 45s, as was using a dumbbell.

      Reply
  3. Rob Panariello

    Kelly,

    Try raising the bar by placing the weights at the end of the bar on low blocks or on a couple of stacked large weight plates. Cover the top of the stacked plates with rubber padding placed upon each plate stack.

    Reply
    1. Will Arias

      Kelly, to compensate the larger diameter of the big plates, you might want to use a couple of aerobic steps parallel and under the smaller plates (one step per plate, obviously). In that way, the distance between the floor and the barbell will be higher and you’ll be able to move freely and comfortably before performing the actual lift. Hope that helps. Cheers, Will

      Reply
  4. Neel

    Bret, this may not be the most relevant post to the article, but I think it’s worth mentioning. When you (and some of your athletes) are thrusting, your necks are flexing in a serious way. Don’t you think you should be packing the neck just like in a deadlift? I realize the load is transferred across a shorter segment of spine here (and the fulcrum is below the cervical spine), but still, it seems like a bad idea.. I first noticed it when I was thrusting, and when I corrected my form, I felt my erectors contracting a lot harder. Also, the hinge point (mid-thoracic level) felt more stable; it almost felt like getting a leg drive in a bench press.

    PS Is there an email address where I could email you a longer question? I have a few exercise ideas that I’d like your opinion on.

    Reply
    1. Naomi

      Neel, I’ve always thought that too! I had whiplash in my 20s and I can’t do pullovers sideways to the bench nor hip thrusts without resting my head. It’s just too uncomfortable. My husband can but like you say, I feel like the head is jutting out and there is unnecessary strain placed on the neck and upper traps.

      Reply
      1. Kelly

        I agree…I feel it in the anterior neck muscles though, in my scalenes and SCM. I always rest my head on the bench as I come back.

        Reply
        1. Bret Post author

          Guys, watch the video (at 4:52 I discuss packing the neck and show proper form). Do as I say, not as I do haha!

          To be honest I’m not ultra-strict about neck position as not I nor any clients I’ve trained have ever experienced any neck issues. I agree that neck packing and/or neutral neck are ideal, but I’m much more concerned with lumbopelvic-hip action.

          But good points!!! Always good to be a perfectionist.

          Reply
          1. Neel

            Bret, my fault, I didn’t see it in the text so I assumed it wasn’t there.
            Naomi, I don’t have neck problems, but when it comes to my spine I’m anal about alignment. Does your old whiplash hinder your training in other ways?
            Kelly, that’s interesting, have you noticed any other differences in terms of which muscles feel like are or aren’t working?

  5. Pingback: From Hip Bridging to Total Glute Domination · Postpartum Punk

  6. Voula

    Bret, this is one of those crazy moments in life where you read my mind before posting this! You are a psychic glute guy! Anyway, I don’t know if you have read Nick Nilsson’s book Gluteus to the Maximus, but I purchased that ebook along with the Gluteus to the Maximus advanced ebook to go along with it, bc I consider myself an experienced training (3 years I think can qualify me for that). So he has a few training programs in both books and the one that I have decided to do is the “Glute Explosion” program and it is amazing. Now why am I mentioning this…bc I do one exercise for volume all week long and I chose to do the american hip thrust for these 5 days and I had some form questions for you. Questions about where the platform should hit my back, whether I should keep my glutes kind of squeezed and ppt throughout the motion, how my neck should be, how far in my feet should go and how wide they should be. Also, when I bring my glutes all the way to the top and get that serious squeeze, should I make sure to keep the part of my back that is on the edge flat on the platform or should I let my hips lift my back so my upper back is laying on the back part of the platform. Obviously, most of these questions were answered in this video and this is why you are the psychic glute guy. Anyway, the question about the back lifting during the top portion of the american hip thrust I believe was answered when looking at your video again. I believe you keep the part of your back that is the “hinge point” on the platform the whole time, which lets the glutes squeeze even more into the hip hyper/ppt. I have been using 5 steps under the platform so I hope that is not too high. And the video of molly doing the hip thrust is great bc now I will start using the smaller bar at the gym and put 45s on it to make it taller, bc I would need to put the larger bar on two platforms beside me bc the hampton thick bar pad is so incredibly thick. Just not sure how much the little bar weighs.

    I am aware you already know Nick Nilsson and you’ve most likely read his glute book, so thank you to both of you bc after this week and next week my glutes will have improved much..I am pretty sure they already started, unfortunately I did not take measurements before I started, but I will be able to tell. Next time around I will make sure to take measurements and pics.

    Reply
    1. Bret Post author

      Hi Voula, thanks for the kind words! You’re a great thinker, and I’m glad the video answered a bunch of your questions. 5 plates is certainly fine, and I didn’t think of the easy-bar as providing a temporary solution for weaker lifters who aren’t ready yet for 135 lbs. Good call! It weighs 25 lbs I believe (might be 15 though). Cheers!

      Reply
      1. DebbyK

        Hi Bret,
        I’m back to doing hip thrusts after my shoulder surgery, however with variation due to wielding a sling on my left arm! I got clearance from one of my surgeons who came to the gym to see me.

        Instead of using the bench or steps I found it much easier to use the swiss ball, since just my shoulder blades touched the surface and no edge on my shoulder. Although I could only do no weight at first I’m now up to placing a 45lb db just above my pubic one and it does give me some resistance. I just go for 30 reps. Not sur if the ball is ideal but(t!) Apparently it’s working!

        As for the EZ bar, after my hip surgery when we first spoke and you helped me I was using the easy bar, cuz it was so EZ to just slide it my legs up to my hips!

        I find that training my glutes first in my routine activates my hips for all my other hip/glut centric exercises, as well as my one legged knee and hip centric ones.

        What say you on this?

        This was a necessity to do the bridging and thrusts first since there was little else I could do. Once I started with your progressions it made a whole lotta sense to stick with training the glutes first this way. It really activates them. I feel much more in control of my op hip side and get better contractions doing other leg movements.

        Using Beb Bruno’s idea of foam roller for hamstring has mad a big difference in getting my glutes to fire also. I do 4-5 reps and then go right into single leg RDL’S, and it’s made a huge difference in getting the glutes to work correctly at the top of my RDL’s, and feeling the hams.

        With constant review of your videos on form even with a mere 35-45lb db’s my glutes are starting to pop! And I’m sure it’s great for rebuilding my hip strength and muscles after my hip BHR surgery.

        Now if only I could train my quads with weight! but that will need to wait til my shoulder is ready. I can only hold so much weight in one hand to do db dead lifts! Any ideas? i try and stay away from leg press, but maybe for building some size maybe not such a bad idea.Used to do it quite heavy.

        Like always your videos are so informative and it’s like you’re right here in my living room talking to me!

        I appreciate all the time and effort and commitment that you have for our industry.

        Hoping to get a session with you soon when I get OK from PT.

        PS Always push through the heels? And not heels and balls of feet and toes together as unit? My toes never come up…should they?

        Cheers!
        DebbyK:)

        Reply
        1. Bret

          Hi Debby!

          Great questions.

          1. Swiss ball (and EZ bar for that matter) are fine for beginners or when you don’t have access to a bench, but as time ensues and you gain strength, a more stable platform (and a bar with no curvature) will be required for maximal strength gains.

          2. I too notice increased glute activation during subsequent lower body movements. Funny story – when I used to measure glute activation through EMG I’d be doing glute activation exercise and I’d look at the monitor while just walking around and the activation would be sky-high (just from walking). So it definitely creates an after-effect.

          3. I cue to push through the heels but I’m sure most end up pushing through the entire foot. As long as you’re not pushing solely through the balls of your feet then it’s all good. Some do prefer to dorsiflex the ankles though which is fine too.

          Nice questions, and thanks for the kind words!

          Reply
          1. DebbyK

            Hey Bret!
            Thanks for the great answers, as well as your funny story on your highly activated glutes.

            I’d say…’these (your)glutes were made for walking’!

            Thanks again for all your help and quick responses.
            :)

        2. Voula

          Debby,

          I know you are partial to the leg press, but if done correctly you can really get a nice leg workout in since you are unable to load your upper body right now. You want to be careful when it comes to strength balance of the posterior and anterior, so working your glutes is great, but it is a good idea to be working the entire leg on the leg press as well, or even just using bodyweight bulgarian squats since to be honest they work wonders with no weight at all if you don’t usually do them. Don’t get me wrong, I love squatting and believe it is superior to the leg press, but in your case, as long as you stay tight through out the movement especially your back, you should be able to work your quads and hams nicely.

          Reply
    2. voula

      Quick comment..in todays workout I used 4 steps under the aerobics platform (4 on each side) to test going lower than 5 steps and I believe I feel a better glute squeeze doing the american hip thrust with 5. Just an observation for everyone out there. I am only 5’2″ so if someone is much taller maybe more steps would be necessary. I think I get into hip extension w/ppt at the top better when I am that high…also I think people at my gym think im crazy doing all these hip thrusts lol

      Reply
      1. Bret

        Some of my friends prefer the higher height too. When I train at gyms people don’t talk smack because I’m hip thrusting a ton of weight and usually following a heavy deadlift session. So it actually invites conversation from fellow lifters as they’re intrigued by the exercise. But the fact that I’m strong certainly helps the exercise’s image.

        Reply
  7. David Yi

    Bret, quick question:

    I see Kellie leaving her feet flat on the floor, yet on the instructional video, your feet come off the ground (pressing up from the heels).

    Is there an optimal motion here? I think you touched on it in a post a while back, but I couldn’t find it.

    Reply
    1. Bret Post author

      David, if you listen to the audio I scolded Kellie haha! I told her to push through the heels. That video was two years ago and I was only her online trainer (I hadn’t trained her in person yet), so she had a few minor kinks to iron-out. She’s a good student though and corrected these issues quickly. Good eye!

      Reply
  8. Joe MIller

    Bret
    Happy birthday! And thanks for another terrific instructional video. You’re a great teacher.
    Your video dealt with exactly the questions I had emailed you about the other week on FB, and was really helpful.
    –Joe

    Reply
  9. Erik Young

    I apologize but i am having trouble seeing a difference between the american hip thrusts shown at the end of the article and the standard BB hip thrust you have been advocating for years.

    Reply
    1. Bret

      Erik, take a look at where the back hinges along the bench. The American hip thrust has the mid-back against the bench, whereas the standard hip thrust has the upper back against the bench. Also check out the posterior tilting action of the pelvis. Some folks like it better, while others prefer the standard version.

      Reply
  10. Pingback: WOD – Hip Thrusts, MUs and L Holds « athleticevolution

  11. Joe MIller

    Hey I’ve got a great idea. Have you considered assembling your favorite, and what you consider to be your best videos, onto one DVD? A kind of “Best of…”

    I know I’d buy it!!

    Reply
  12. Sylas

    Hi Bret,
    I found that the American hip thrust almost forced me into PPT. I can perform it either way, however, I think I feel a more intense glute contraction when in PPT. I’ve been reading about the hollow position used in gymnastics and how using it enables people to squeeze more power out of their lats when performing certain exercises such as pull-ups. I believe Pavel’s “Fighter Pull-up” is exactly that. Anyway, the hollow position requires adopting the position of PPT. I find it interesting that PPT may enable people to squeeze more power out of their glutes as well as their lats.

    Reply
    1. Derrick Blanton

      Hi Sylas, great post. By “nagging at me” below, I mean spurring inquisitive thought which is a good thing, ( to me anyway, ha ha). I also like that Pavel pull up style, and am intrigued by the link between the lats and glutes as a combined muscle group separated by the thoracolumbar fascia.

      When I go where that theory takes me, it means tighten up one side of the group and the other side has more force to work with, which is the opposite of active insufficiency.

      Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to pick up the pieces of my brain which are scattered about the floor./:)

      PS: Do you find that you are able to HT as much weight with PPT?

      Reply
      1. Bret

        I definitely can’t HT as much weight when I PPT, but the American HT allows for heavier loads due to shorter lever length and does sort of force you into PPT, so it’s a different animal.

        Reply
  13. Frances

    Happy Birthday Bret,

    I think that is one of the most useful videos I’ve ever seen. I’ve always wondered about the height of the bench. At the moment, I’m progressing from glute bridges to hip thrusts so I’m not using that much weight on the hip thrusts. I think I’ll try using an aerobic step.

    I also really enjoyed seeing the different variations, I mostly use the pause method but I’m looking forward to doing the constant tension method and the iso hold method.

    My glutes are burning in anticipation!!!! Again, have a good birthday.

    Thanks a lot for this video and all your other stuff.

    Frances (UK).

    Reply
  14. Derrick Blanton

    BC, following up on Sylas’s post above..

    Something was nagging at me about this post, and I finally figured it out.
    RE: 7:30 of video where you elaborate on posterior pelvic tilting while setting up:

    My experience while performing hip thrusts indicates that using the glutes to PPT on one side, while simultaneously extending the hip on the other side diminishes force production due to active insufficiency. In effect, the glutes are great at PPT-ing, greater yet at extending the hip, but relatively mediocre at doing both at the same time. (Mediocre as pertains to load lifted, or velocity achieved, or power; PPT thrusting definitely makes for an extemely high MVC %)

    If you are trying to effect movement at opposite sides of two different joints with the same muscle, peak force is compromised.

    I am extremely glute-dominant, so maybe the effect is different for people who don’t have the same MMC with their glutes. I can also see how it is safer for the lumbar spine if the glutes “set the pelvis” before extending, but it seems that power when extending is now lessened.

    For some reason I keep thinking of Usain Bolt who starts APT-ing at, like, his neck lol, and I’m wondering if this is because the APT sets the glutes into a more favorable position to explosively extend the hip. When I went back and reviewed my BC Sexy Challenge hip thrust videos, yup, I am setting up in APT, and violently extending the hip.

    Is this another case of knowing your body, and negotiating the tradeoffs between powerful movement and stability? Is the case of APT-ing during violent hip extension a function of possessing proportionately very strong lumbar erectors saying, “I got this, glutes, now go do your thing over there at the hips..”

    And by extension, (pardon the pun), does this mean PPT-ing while hip thrusting is going to increase hamstring activation, as the glutes run out of room and need more help from HS’s..

    I have been experimenting with some single leg PPT bridges, and it is certainly a way to build tremendous gluteal tension. I could see where the MVC percentages might be just as high, or higher. But if I was trapped in a fire, and had to hip thrust my way out from a collapsed beam in my lap, I would probably APT, and EXTEND!! :)

    Reply
    1. Bret

      Derrick, I’ve put a ton of thought into this and will elaborate on it in a future article. Agree that the body isn’t good at doing both HE and PPT at the same time during the standard version, but during the American version it’s natural. And I agree that it may lead to high MVC’s but diminish load/force/power during the standard version.

      Regarding Usain and other sprinters and APT, there is some info you’re missing and it will make sense in a future article. You need to understand the hip extension torque angle curve.

      I also think that it’s okay to APT a bit during a HT as many of my clients do it and never feel any pain (and feel a ton of glutes).

      I don’t think PPT increases hammy activation just from personal experience.

      Never thought about the single leg PPTHT…I’ll need to give that a try!

      And if I was trapped in a fire I would definitely not PPT either! I’d have some slight APT as well.

      You’re a great thinker my friend.

      Reply
      1. Derrick Blanton

        High praise, BC, thanks so much! This blog is like an ongoing higher education course in exercise science, only far more entertaining, so right back at you.

        I guess the thrust (must stop with the puns) of my original post could be more succinctly stated: “Activate with the PPT version. Exert force and power with APT version”.

        Related single-leg hypothesis:

        Remember how you originally found MVC’s were greater on bilateral HT’s? I’m thinking that by using PPT, and non-barbell loading, (ex. chain draped around pelvis), you will achieve equal or greater MVC’s with the single leg version.

        It’s the spine. Stabilizing the asymmetrically loaded spine puts the brakes on the CNS when single leg HT-ing. But the PPT stabilizes the spine, and unleashes the CNS, provided you also:

        1.) further balance and stabilize by raising the off leg, and grasping the bench firmly with hands,

        2.) Center external load (if even necessary) on the pelvis. This could be a heavy chain draped around the waist, or heavy resistance band wrapped around waist to grounded dumbbell. A sandbag might work, but then we are starting to get into the stability issue and CNS inhibition again.

        3.) use a dynamic external cue -my old favorite: “Kick the sky!” with the raised off-leg.

        So it’s 1.) hard PPT braced setup, 2.) heavy chain around pelvis, and 3.) off leg raised, cueing “Kick the sky!”, or “touch the ceiling”.

        You are going to trigger warning alarms on the EMG. It will redline!

        OK, that was a little dramatic.. :)

        Note that you are still not going to achieve the same level of velocity, but the activation will be HIGH due to the compromised leverage, yet enhanced stability, of PPT.

        (Also, it’s an easy set up.)

        Reply
  15. Matt

    Nice article Bret!. I have been hip thrusting for a while, but now at my current gym it’s very difficult to get in position. As I don’t usually have a spotter, as of now I use 2 benches 1 to rest the left side of the barbell on and the other to hip thrust against, I do get some strange looks lol, I’m the only dude to do this exercise in the gym ;p, I still love it though.

    Also wondered about the back position as I find that I always hit some of my lower back when hip thrusting it seems, I get good glute activation and abs, as I check sometimes to see I’m doing it right, but always get a slight pump in the lower back too is this the same for you?

    Love your articles man, been reading ‘em for a long time, keep doin’ your thing :).

    Reply
    1. Bret

      Hi Matt, what’s wrong with simply rolling the bar over the legs? Are you not yet using 135 lbs, or are your legs too muscular? I don’t get a low back pump…you can try the PPT version if you’re worried as this will take the erectors out of the equation a bit. But as long as you’re not overly-hyperextending the lumbar spine it’s all good. In other words, some slight hyperextension is okay but not end-range lumbar hyperextension.

      Reply
      1. Matt

        Ah forgot to mention I use the fixed bars they have here at the gym. They only go up to like 50kg and don’t sit very high off the ground. Also there’s only one power rack at this gym and 1 full size bar so It can be difficult to get on there at times. Got a smith machine too but I’m not sure about hip thrusting in there yet, Is this a decent option? But yeah I generally have never used much weight on these, I tend to go light and hold contractions at the top, mainly for hypertrophy, but I do need to start upping the weight so I guess I need to move away from the fixed bars. Ok what’s the PPT version?

        Reply
        1. Matt

          lol -_- Nevermind that last question, it’s in the original article…

          One more thought though, would it be better to hip thrust from the ground rather than off a bench? In terms of my low back getting onvolved that is.

          Reply
          1. Bret

            I’d say that people tend to compensate at the spine less during the glute bridge compared to the hip thrust, but you should master proper lumbopelvic hip mechanics during both variations.

            Don’t use the smith machine – stick to free weights. Single leg variations can be very effective too.

  16. Mike

    I’ve been thrusting a while now, but I just tried single leg ht. I must confess myself frustrated. I warmed up right leg (after a small learning curve) felt different but good. Tried a warm up with my left leg, couldn’t move it. Spending time trying to get my lazy butt (lol) going was getting me no place. Note:225 for 5 reps good form right side, bw for a bunch left side never felt right form or activation. Thoughts, remedies? Is this a possible answer to my occasional right side back pain?

    Reply
    1. Bret

      Mike, I’m having a hard time understanding your question. I realize that you have an imbalance, but from what you wrote is seems that you can do 225 x 5 single leg hip thrust with your right leg and only bodyweight on the left side?

      I can double leg hip thrust 495 x 3 and 405 x 10 on a standard bench, but I struggle very hard to use extra loading with single leg. 95 lbs is very challenging (and awkward) so I most often just stick to bodyweight for 12-15 reps when performing single leg.

      If you have a glute imbalance, there could be some other reason that needs fixing (something that caused it in the first place). If that’s the case then you need to figure out why and deal with it.

      However, this is not always easy or practical to figure out, and sometimes you can simply fix the issue (and the issue that caused the problems in the first place) by restoring glute balance.

      So you’ll certainly benefit from working the weaker side with more frequency, volume, and intensity. But being in balance means having similar unilateral performance as well as appearing symmetrical during bilateral performance. So when you perform bilateral movements, make sure your body doesn’t twist, lean, veer, torque, etc.

      And I would certainly believe that this has to do with your occasional right side back pain (due to left glute weakness).

      Best of luck!

      Reply
  17. Leah

    Hi Bret,
    I found your video to be extremely informative, thank you. I just have a quick query. In the T Nation article you posted, “Don’t be like Donald Duck”, you mentioned that a physical therapist collegue had used these methods, e.g. Hip thrust, with success. I have a client recovering from a hip fracture where I believe the hip thrust will be an effective addition to a gluteal set of exercises to improve strength and stability, early ambulation weight-bearing exercise is possible due to realtive young age (50 years), with potential augmentation to the the pendulum quadruped hip extension. Did your PT collegue only use these methods for the correction of APT or more extensively for the condition that I have mentioned? Or, have you experienced assistance with recovery utilising these methods for clients presenting with this condition?

    Reply
    1. Bret

      Leah, I have many PT colleagues who have been using these methods with success. The one in the article trains world class athletes and believes he’s seen success with improving excessive APT through the hip thrust and PPTing movements (though I’m sure he also had the athletes squat, dl, etc., but I’m not positive). I have another friend who works with folks with hip replacement surgeries and he believes that the hip thrust greatly improves recovery (and when possible he has them start thrusting prior to surgery as well as after).

      My co-author (Kellie Davis) for Strong Curves has noticeably less APT after hip thrusting for several years (and we weren’t actively trying to correct it…it just happened).

      Hope that helps! – BC

      Reply
  18. Jess

    Hi Brett,
    This is such an excellent article! I loved it. I have found that teaching people (beginners) how to posterior tilt prior to doing this really helps. People find it challenging to do it. I have also been using the steps only because it just feels smoother… I don’t know the actual biomechanics behind it. Perhaps becuase you can’t posterior tilt to the end so it’s a longer range that you may have your lumbar spine in hyper extension? What were your thoughts?
    Brett I literally LOL’d at 7:45 minutes… Hilarious! Well done and thank you!

    Reply
    1. Bret

      Hi Jess…not sure about your question. You’re suggesting that the steps provide less total ROM so there’s less time to be in lumbar hyperextension? If so, I wouldn’t agree. I imagine that if you measured the amount and (lumbar angles) and frequency (% of peeps) who exhibited lumbar hyperextension during barbell glute bridges, hip thrusts off an aerobics step with 3 risers, and hip thrusts off of a standard bench, there would not be any notable differences. In other words, people who don’t know how to use their glutes properly will butcher all 3 variations, and this butchering is independent of the height of elevation.

      However, I could be wrong! I should also mention that while I prefer a lower bench, some of my colleagues (such as Ben Bruno) prefer a higher bench, so ideal height may be related to anthropometry or may come down to individual preference.

      These exercises are very young and require more research!

      Reply
  19. Tomek

    Hi Bret,
    Thanks for the article – great as always.
    I’ve got 2 questions for you in regards to this article:
    1. Do you know how much pressure does hip thrust impose on the knee joints?
    2. What is the best way to deload knee joints during that movement (should knees be less bent, glutes more activated by using mini band etc.?) and make it more kneefriendly?
    And one more question about your last article for T-mag:
    1. It seems to me that hanging leg raises activate hip flexors a lot – wouldn’t it be detrimental to the purpose of the exercise in regards to the APT posture?

    Reply
    1. Bret

      Great questions Tomek.

      1. A lot! Vasti activation during hip thrusts actually exceeded all popular quad exercises (including squats, lunges, Bulgarian split squats, leg press, leg ext), albeit from an isometric (stabilization) standpoint. This was n = 1, but I’d imagine it to be true for many folks. For this reason I wonder if it might be problematic for some folks. I have not trained anyone who complained of knee pain (with probably 300 clients who have performed them to date), but I have personally noticed some aggravation when I was sticking to the isohold methods for several weeks straight.

      2. Knees less bent, dorsiflex ankles, lower bench height (preferably from floor if it’s really a concern), and possibly a miniband around the knees.

      3. My buddy Brad Schoenfeld raised this same point. Here’s my thought-process. First, many people butcher the reverse crunch so I didn’t want to recommend that exercise. Second, you may bend the knees to decrease the lever length and therefore the hip flexion moment. And third (most important), if you’re really strict and focus on the PPT and full range of motion, you’ll probably only be able to perform 8-12 reps. If you just performed hanging bent leg hip flexion to 90 degrees, you could probably bust out 30 reps. So you’re not “maxing out” your hip flexion potential on this exercise; you’re maxing out your PPT potential. But of course I could be in error so kudos for being a critical thinker.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
      1. Tomek

        Thanks for the answers. I have my share of injuries, postural problems – hence the questions.
        In regards to the 3rd point – I see your point. I will try both versions: full range and partial (probably with added weight).

        Reply
      2. Michael

        Wow, that surprised me about the quad activity, they usually don’t feel that tired on me (though I’m still ramping up weight). They don’t bother my knees at all.

        Reply
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  22. Math

    Hi Bret,

    importance of gluteal strength came to my attention several months ago and after being close-minded for a long time, thinking squats and lunges were the only way to go, I finally gave BB Hip Thrust a try. I incorporated them in my workouts only a week and a half ago, but it’s like I never worked my glutes before ! During HT, you feel the glutes doing the work, you feel the pump ; it simply is amazing.

    Problem is I feel my hams working too during the movement. Is it normal ? Or should I only feel it in the glutes ? Another thing is I did a american hip thrust and glute bridge session yesterday and I have some lower back stiffness today. How come ?

    I hope you will answer those questions and thank you in advance !

    Reply
  23. Pingback: CrossFit Intrepid » A Closer Look at the Hip Thrust (aka Hip Bridge)

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  25. Isabella

    Happy Birthday Bret!
    What a great video you shared, thank you for the thorough explanation and demonstration…
    I’d love to start a new Glute Challenge on my blog, I’ll try some of your techniques and see how it goes!
    Wish you all the best for your birthday :)
    Isabella.

    Reply
  26. Tom

    Hi Bret

    With regards to exercise sequencing, where would you put the hip thrust ?

    I normally sequence the exercises from most complex to least complex.

    Would the hip thrust be better near the end of a workout (after front squats, deadlifts etc) or at the begining ?

    I’m wondering if doing the hip thrusts first will result in worse squatting performance (due to fatigue) or better squating performance (due to better glute activation)

    What do you think ?

    Reply
    1. Bret

      Hi Tom, great question.

      For men, I like doing them after squat and dl variations. But for women, I always put them first.

      I think that the fatigue imposed would supersede the potentiation, so you wouldn’t see any PAP for subsequent squats unless you went at around 80% intensity of effort (in which case you wouldn’t get the full gluteal hypertrophy stimulus from the hip thrusts).

      Reply
      1. Tom

        Hi Bret, thanks for the quick reply

        With regards to the hip thrust (and other exercises), do you think there is an optimum time under tension for strength and hypertrophy ?

        I have read varoius numbers such as 40-60 seconds for hypertrophy and under 20 secpnds for strength but i don’t know if these numbers are backed up by the scientific literature.

        For example. Do you think 10 front squats for 45 seconds (75% MVC) would yield the same benefits as 6 front squats for 45 seconds (75 MVC) ?

        Sometimes i get clients working for a specific TUT instead of a set amount of reps, i find that it results in better focus and control.

        Interested to hear your thoughts

        Reply
  27. Jessica Jane

    Fantastic! I’ve been doing the bridge exclusively for almost a year now since I’m a fiend for heavier loads. ;-) I recently attempted a hip thrust and was a little humbled. What is an appropriate ratio between bridge strength and hip thrust strength? For instance, I can bridge about 260lbs, so what should I be working toward with my hip thrust?

    I also was curious how often one could get away with glute training (sets/reps) per week in order to maximize gains. I love working the lower body, so I will typically start with a 3×5-8 of a very heavy set, then follow up with 3-4 alternate lower body exercises for 2-3×10-20 reps. Repeat 3x a week. Is this a typical regime you might reccomend? Thank you so much!

    Reply
    1. Phil

      Jesss,

      Not wanting to anticipate what Brett says about routine but I have used this exercise for a year now and I left the bridge behind very quickly simply because the hip thrust has 2.5x to 3 x the ROM versus the bridge so it has to be better. 260LBS is pretty impressive so I think you will feel the HT pretty quickly. I have put my wife on to these and she is improving very quickly. The other other very important factor is the increased ROM will see significant improvements in your gluteus maximus.I know Brett has indicated in previous articles you can go heavy 4 x a week. We always go 2 x setss of speed reps to get the activation which aren’t counted in total sets, then work 5-8 reps progressively increasing the weight.

      Reply
    2. Bret Post author

      Phil is right – you can do these 3-5 times per week if you want. I train my girls twice per week and we always start with heavy hip thrusts. I tell them to do them with light weight for high reps on their own two other days per week (some of them follow my instructions and some of them don’t haha). My strongest girl only does them twice per week so don’t feel like you have to do them so frequently. The regimen you proposed sounds great.

      Right now you’re very coordinated with the glute bridge and no so much with the hip thrust. Therefore your strength will rise rapidly. Case in point; my girls just did bb glute bridges for the first time Thursday night and they stunk at them (since they’ve never done them). They’ll quickly gain coordination and strength though, as will you with the hip thrust. If you can do 260 pounds with the bbgb, I’d imagine that within 6 sessions you should be doing around 205 pound hip thrusts. Right off the bat you’ll probably find 155 to be challenging though.

      Reply
  28. Jessica Jane

    Heavy 4x a week? Yes, 155lbs was difficult! I’m actually thinking of taking out heavy back squatting for awhile since it’s not really back-friendly and my back is just chronically tight and/or sore. Sometimes it gets very achy when I lay prone after a heavy hip thrust/bridge set as well, so I suppose I will have to use more of a posterior tilt to alleviate that…

    This is off that topic a bit, but what about incorporating exercises like the quadruped donkey kick with/without a bent knee? Have you noticed if this exercise yields different results in hypertrophy/strength development compared to something like a hip thrust, bridge, step-ups or squats? Or, do you believe that weighted, heavy-loaded exercises are always superior in this regard?

    Thank you so much! You are making us better women with your knowledge! ;-)

    Reply
    1. Bret Post author

      Jessica – usually people have back pain from heavy lifting on account of poor spinal and postures. So definitely pay close attention to this.

      I like doing glute activation stuff in warm-ups and on off-days. But heavy (and for high reps if that makes sense) is definitely the way to go, assuming good form and good use of glutes is adhered to.

      Work your way up to hip thrusts 225 for three sets of 10 and you’ll be very proud! Take your time though and never compromise good form.

      Reply
  29. kooki

    hi bret hru m kooki i ant discuss onething with u which is too much irretate to me sorry my english is nt too gud please understand my prolem is that my hips r too much untightly n big its like scatterd part of my body and my hips are like that spring which is to much move in any condition hmm when i walk very slowly slowly even in this case my hips movement like spring or i cant explain with proper words just very untighy n big oh yes shape of my hips like falling thing very simle i want to my hips tightly there will be no movment when i walk these moves like when we fall ball ups n downs very fastly please tell me excersices with videos send on my email id please please m too tensed i cant go jim i want to do exersies in my house pleaseeeeeeeee pleaseeeeeee

    Reply
  30. Ben

    I hurt my left knee and can’t squat but can hip thrust and romanian deadlift, I’m wondering if you think that is enough to keep up my squat strength or is there anything else good I could be doing, I do Glute Ham raises as well.

    Reply
  31. Michael

    Great post Bret. Got a few questions for you regarding hip thrusts.

    I noticed you haven’t done foot elevated loaded hip thrusts in any of your videos (you had one but only bodyweight), you only change back height, any reason for this? I’m a rower and love the exercise but want to see how deep I can effectively go since rowing involves firing glutes from super deep hip flexion, and deep squats do a number on my knees. You’ve mentioned hip thrusts aren’t as good for deep hip flexion but could they rival squats if you raised the legs up to get the butt super deep in the hip thrust? Or does the exercise start to break down if you go too deep?

    Reply
    1. Bret Post author

      Michael, this is an excellent question! And you’ve been a good student.

      Okay this is a bit complicated so hopefully I can make it make sense. First, when I did my EMG experiments, I found that feet-elevation decreased glute activity (it’s like doing a torso-elevated push-up if you think about it – it decreases the amount of bodyweight loading). I’ve never done feet-elevated barbell hip thrusts (with shoulders on the ground). But I have done shoulders and feet elevated hip thrusts. You definitely get more hip ROM. But does the hip extension moment in the deep position outperform that of the barbell squat? It would be close. But the knee angle is more opened up than it would be in the squat so you’d get more hammy contribution and less glute. So I feel that the deep squat is superior to the hip thrust for deep hip flexion (in terms of glute loading). But everywhere else in the ROM, the hip thrust is superior (especially at end range where the hip thrust is highly loaded but the squat is unloaded).

      Hope that makes sense!

      Reply
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  33. james

    Hey Bret,
    Does the barbell hip thrust and its variations have much carry over to the squat and deadlift (squat specifically)?
    Thanks!!

    Reply
  34. Carmen

    Hi Brett!

    I’ve watched quite a few of your videos and have a couple of questions. First, do you no longer use a bench and perform these exercises using an aerobic step with risers? Second, are exercises 4-7 (After the “American Hip Thrust”) performed from the “American Hip Thrust” position– with more of your back on the step?

    Thanks!
    Carmen

    Reply
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  37. andree

    Do u think body weigth for reps would be better for a while?? I mean I feel more tension just doing it body w, than with the barbell loaded. I do it with a very wide stance.

    Reply
  38. Angie

    The above Video with Hip Hyperextension vs. Posterior Pelvic Tilt: Molly is using a short bar for her weights. Does anyone know the brand she uses? I’ve been researching and found nothing.

    Reply
  39. Diana

    Thanks for the videos! Trying to get my glutes stronger but I have pain in my outer hips and pulling from along the thighs into the knees when doing bridges. Am I just tight?

    Can you speak about foot position? How close are your heels to your glutes? Are your feet pointed out or straight? How far apart are your knees? The reason I ask is because different positions are painful for me. I feel pulling around my hips, especially the outer hip area.

    Lastly, my glutes tighten up and I get painful knots in them. I also get pain in the icheal tuberocity. I use a lacross ball to loosen them up but can’t do thrusts or any other glute activation exercise again for days. I’m pretty strong and have great legs but my glutes aren’t up to par. This last year my glutes have not behaving and they causing me a lot of issues! Any idea why my glutes tighten up and I feel pulling along the outside of my hips? Thanks for the advise.

    Reply
  40. Steve

    Hey Bret, how would you normally begin to incorporate anteroposterior loaded glute exercises like the hip thrust, american hip thrust and pendulum quadruped hip extensions etc in a normal lower body day. Currently performing two lower body sessions a week consisting of mostly axial loaded posterior chain exercises (with the only exception being pull throughs).. but I want to start including the exercises you have popularised. Not sure what exercise to begin with however. I tried performing your program in your article dispelling the glute myth, but with a full time job, rugby, 4 weight sessions and other things, I didn’t manage to find the time/motivation to do the 2 extra workouts a week, and so would like to include more AP exercises in my lower body days.

    Many Thanks, Steve

    Reply
  41. stacey

    Gday. From Australia.
    I am so excited you have answered my questions on how to build more strength and power from hips.
    I’ve been training martial arts for 8 years now I’m sure you know that basically all the kicks power comes from the hips. Oh well starts there.
    I was just recently wondering how to increase power for kicks and this Sounds ideal.
    Will let you know how it goes if your keen.
    Cheers

    Reply
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  51. Maria

    Hi Bret.I am fit but I my sciatica occasionally troubles me.Won’t hip thrusts make it worse?
    Thank you
    Maria

    Reply
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