A Squat Devotee No More

Howdy y’all, my name is Hailey Harber. Before I begin this whole shebang, I have to give some credit where it’s due; were it not for my parents, I more than likely wouldn’t give a rat’s behind regarding anything related to fitness or health. I can’t deny that they have done me a tremendous service by bringing me up in a household that not only implemented healthy eating but stressed getting sufficient physical activity. In fact, I can’t remember one time in my short 21 years where I didn’t have some form of abs. Now, that might sound like a dream come true to most of you ladies, and being lean is wonderful, but I eventually became a bit fed up with my masculine body and yearned to have a fuller, more feminine figure (while still being able to keep my small waist). Sure, I had nice abs, but I was seriously lacking in the trunk aspect. My  petite, lean body was accompanied by an even smaller rear end, and I decided that enough was enough. Now, as an avid researcher, I took to the internet to learn how I could achieve this so called ‘plump’ derierre, and the journey that ensued as a result was really quite something.

Okay! So I’m guilty- I used to be a regular visitor to the ‘She Squats,’ as well as other similar pages on Facebook, looking to the photos for inspiration and hoping to gain mass on my posterior by employing the same means as the girls featured in the photos. No doubt you’ve run across a page like that- you know, the ones overflowing with pictures of curvy rear ends that are supposedly the result of back squats? The whole ‘squat for ass’ message was extremely easy to buy into. Pictures of ‘results’ were being posted left and right, and I’d assumed that they hadn’t been Photoshopped, nor had the girls in the photos stuffed their pants to give the illusion of a larger backside. As a result of seeing those photos, I took to back squatting. I became a regular inhabitant of the gym’s squat rack for close to 8 months, and in that time I researched many aspects of the lift ranging from bar position, stance width, foot flare, back posture, squat depth, bar grip, and all different kinds of set/rep ranges. I hoped I would eventually run into an article that held the secret to a bigger ass via back squatting- I just assumed that this ‘secret’ would be hidden in some little dark nook of the article; a ‘tip’ under a photo, or perhaps in a comment left by some generous intelligent female who had already gained inches on her backside due to some secret I didn’t know.

yeah she squats

This is the cover photo of the ‘Yeah, She Squats’ page

Months went by and I saw minimal results from excessive repetitive back squatting. I experienced soreness, to the point where it hurt to sit down, but I didn’t see the gains like I thought I would have. As a matter of fact, I probably didn’t gain more than ½ inch on my backside when I was solely squatting, even though I was employing 6-8 sets of 8 reps with 185 lbs while utilizing a wider sumo-like stance to target more glute. I even worked my way up and maxed out at 235, but the gains just weren’t there, even though I was eating more than a sufficient amount. Going to the gym became a decision I had made due to wanting to improve my physique, not primarily due to strength goals. So finally, I decided to set aside the ‘king of leg exercises’ and look elsewhere. There had to be a more effective lift out there to target the glutes. So little ol’ disappointed me picked up where I left off and continued to do what I do best- research.

Now, my idea of the ideal female figure has changed a bit over the years.  I used to be somewhat obsessed with keeping my waist tiny, and the rest of my body naturally followed right along and remained miniature. I really paid no mind to anything other than my waist up until a few years ago, until pictures of women with plump derrieres and full figures seemed to bombard me from every direction. Even though I had never had a problem with my weight, I could never seem to attain that full figured body. The lean look had shackled me down, and in order to escape it I needed to find the key. Eventually, I ended up pegging squats as that key, since they seemed to be working like magic for every other female on the ‘She Squats,’ Facebook page. I was tired of being ‘toned,’ I wanted to be curvy.

Before I had taken to joining a gym, a friend of mine had loaned me a 45 lb plate off of his weight set. I’d decided that I should at least be able to squat the weight of a bar and would be able to work up to it at home. After a while, I got crafty with the 45 lb plate, attempting different exercises while trying to decide which elicited the most intense glute burn. One particular movement proved to be incredibly successful; I would lay on the floor, place the plate on my lap, and proceed to thrust it up with my glutes (I had no idea what to call it at the time, but through research found that it’s called a glute bridge). Eventually my body grew accustomed to squatting and bridging the 45 pounds, so I knew it was time to progress to a gym where I could employ heavier weights in my routine. When I initially joined a gym, squatting became my main priority and I had forgotten all about those glute-burning bridges. I was a squat devotee- and within 3 months I was wide stance squatting 185 lbs to parallel, but experiencing minimal to no gains. Thinking back to those lonely nights in my bedroom with that 45 lb plate, I’d began to realize that I’d been squatting as a result of the ‘results’ of others, not employing the exercise that had seemed to be the most effective for me. It didn’t take long to understand that I’d needed to start incorporating the bridges into my routine again- heavier glute bridges. However, I just wasn’t ready to kick squats to the curb. I was still looking for that ‘secret’ that I desperately hoped I would somehow stumble upon.

Now, the thought of performing those thrusting motions in the center of a large gym chock full of testosterone-laden guys made me just a bit uneasy. If it wasn’t for a closed off section in the far side of my gym, I’m not sure if I’d have been able to grow large enough you know whats to enable me to perform a fairly sexual appearing lift.  At that time, humping a weighted barbell on the middle of the gym floor in plain view of everyone seemed thoroughly embarrassing. So I hauled the bar and two little bitty ten pound plates around to the isolated part of the gym and proceeded to complete sets of 8-10 reps. Within about 3 months, I had built up to bridging about 225 lbs for sets of 8, and had seen about an inch gain on my backside since implementing the bridges. I was still squatting, but I seemed to be stuck in a hole with them, since I hadn’t progressed whatsoever with the lift and hadn’t been able to progress past 185 lbs for quite some time.

At this point, squats began aggravating me a great deal. I began to force myself to add more weight to the bar, thinking that I was just being a p*ssy and not pushing myself to the extent that I thought I could, and that I would definitely start seeing significant gains if I would only start doing more reps with more weight. I increased the weight to 195, 205, and then finally 235 lbs, as a max. Deep down, I knew I had to give up squatting. They were providing no results. But in the back of my mind, the silhouettes of the ‘squat’ girls still haunted me. I still believed that there was something I wasn’t aware of, or something that I wasn’t doing right. I needed the secret, I needed the key to whatever it was that would help me reach my goal; yet no matter what I tried, nothing grew except for my impatience. For the next month, I remained adamant about squatting, hoping that my ass would start ballooning somehow like the pictures I had seen online. All I had to do was keep squatting, right?

During this time, I had run into a guy named Bret Contreras after entering into the google search bar ‘pushing up barbell with pelvis,’ as I had no idea what this lift was called or if it even existed. Soon after reading a few of Bret’s articles, I thought back to the lift I performed in my bedroom with that 45 lb plate and the glute burn that had ensued as a result of it, as well as the inch gain I had seen since employing weighted bridges. I realized that I needed to start completely focusing on what I had felt worked best for me, and not continue to repetitively back squat because that’s what everyone else was saying to do, or because it was posted on a picture of a girl with a nice ass. I realized that studies and articles should most definitely hold more credibility than the booty pictures posted on ‘Yeah, She Squats,’ and I knew I had to try to look at this from a different perspective.

This is a barbell glute bridge. It has the same apt to ppt motion as a barbell hip thrust, but it has a smaller range of motion. Also, you are hinging from the floor instead of a bench/risers. Now hopefully you can see how it got hard to keep 325 lbs from rolling back on me (as you’ll read later)

This is a barbell glute bridge. It has the same apt to ppt motion as a barbell hip thrust, but it has a smaller range of motion. Also, you are hinging from the floor instead of a bench/risers. Now hopefully you can see how it got hard to keep 325 lbs from rolling back on me (as you’ll read later)

Now even though the thought of focusing completely on bridges had been growing on me, I just couldn’t seem to ditch back squatting.  It’s like I was dead set that I’d wake up one morning to incredible glutes as a result of the previous day’s squat sets. Anyway, I pushed them so hard on one session that I ended up trying to complete a final set of 235 while I was already very fatigued from the 8 or so sets of 8 that I normally would complete. With the bar on my back and shaking legs, I un-racked the bar, stepped forward slightly and locked myself into place. The first rep went just fine, but I got stuck in the hole and fell forward on the second rep, causing me to pull a muscle in my lower back (I didn’t have a spotter). As a result, I was out of the gym for a good month, and had become pretty pissed off at how everything was playing out.  Apparently, I was squatting quite a bit for the average female, so why did I seem to be the only one not experiencing this booty growth that supposedly was a side effect of back squatting?

Consequently, I now had a large amount of time on my hands since I had just done quite a number to my lumbar- time that was utilized inspecting numerous articles of Bret’s. Within the span of a month, my back healed and my knowledge of the glutes increased with every article that I read. Using my better judgment, I completely gave up back squatting and focused on barbell glute bridging. Also, I began to implement hip thrusts, as I had discovered that they have a greater range of motion and are more effective at growing the glutes than glute bridging. Yet bridging was the easier of the two (no setting up aerobic steppers) so I figured I would work my way up with weight on the bridges, and hip thrust every so often just to get the feel of it. Eventually, I could glute bridge 325 for reps, (I’m 123-127 lbs, mind you [it varies]) and my derriere gained yet another inch with them alone, even after I had completely abandoned back squatting. But, due to the slanted nature my body undergoes while glute bridging, problems arose as the weight got heavier. As I’d lift up and lock my glutes out, I had to do all I could to keep the 325 lb barbell from rolling back on me. My arms would also lock out to hold the bar up in place on my pelvis, but I began experiencing pain under my right shoulder blade from the pressure of the bar, so I decided to stick exclusively to hip thrusting, since the body rises up into a horizontal line while completing the lift, and I didn’t need any more back issues after my former squatting ordeal.

Hip thrusting is now what I advocate to anyone trying to gain mass on their backside. I employ it as my main lift to this day, and my glutes have gone from 35 to 38 inches due to bridging/thrusting movements alone. I haven’t back squatted for a good 7-8 months, and my glute gains still remain in place, and are increasing still. To be perfectly honest, I don’t miss back squatting one bit.

What exactly is the hip thrust and how do I perform it?

While you hip thrust, flex/squeeze the glutes and use them to push the load up. It’s also essential to lock out at the top of the lift. Now, don’t look at the apt/ppt chart below and assume that I’m in anterior pelvic tilt. I’m really in posterior pelvic tilt here, but my glute size might make it appear as if I’m in apt. It’s very important to keep that apt to ppt motion throughout the lift to maximally target the glutes

While you hip thrust, flex/squeeze the glutes and use them to push the load up. It’s also essential to lock out at the top of the lift. Now, don’t look at the apt/ppt chart below and assume that I’m in anterior pelvic tilt. I’m really in posterior pelvic tilt here, but my glute size might make it appear as if I’m in apt. It’s very important to keep that apt to ppt motion throughout the lift to maximally target the glutes


While hip thrusting, you will go from an initial sitting position (see above photo) in which your lumbar (lower back) is in a slight arch and your pelvis in very slight anterior pelvic tilt, to the top of the lift where you lock your glutes out toward a posterior pelvic tilt motion, which means you’re using the glues to push the pelvis forward (or toward the sky if you’re laying down). The glutes work to keep your pelvis from drifting into anterior pelvic tilt (apt), and also as what’s pushing the load up (and possibly posterior pelvic tilting). Now, while you squat, your lower back keeps an arch (apt), and the glutes can’t fire as hard while you are in an anterior pelvic tilt. Don’t believe me? Arch your back and squeeze your glutes. Now get into a neutral spine position and squeeze the glutes. Huge difference, huh? (Thanks Bret Contreras!)

See how her lower back is arched? This is the squat version of anterior pelvic tilt. The glutes can’t fire maximally when the pelvis is in apt

See how her lower back is arched? This is the squat version of anterior pelvic tilt. The glutes can’t fire maximally when the pelvis is in apt

Also, the hip thrust is like a bench press, but for the posterior chain. You’re pushing down right on top of the pelvis (with a barbell) and forcing the glutes to pick it up from a horizontal vector. This lift will absolutely elicit the most intense glute burn you have ever felt. Perhaps you’d care to view barbell hip thrusting solely as a bent leg hip extensior/hip hyperextensor lift instead of stressing over pelvic mechanics. When you ascend during the hip thrust, there is movement, and the glutes will fire. Ideally, I’d prefer everyone at least learn and become aware of the different pelvic tilts, but I do undertstand that some people perform the lift best while only thinking of hip extension (and hyperextension, depending on how high you rise). “The glutes must stabilize the pelvis so it doesn’t drift anteriorly (as an anti-anterior tilter), so even if the pelvis doesn’t posteriorly tilt, the torque (or moment) is there, sort of like the anti-extension torque on the spine in a plank.” Much thanks to Bret for his awesome way with words. I couldn’t have said it better. But if you’d rather concentrate on squeezing your glutes and pushing the weight up (hip extension) instead of worrying about posteriorly tilting the pelvis, that’s fine too.

Lumbopelvic Posture

 Do you see how she has a low back arch in the initial stage of the lift (apt)? She is moving her pelvis from an anterior pelvic tilt to a posterior pelvic tilt. In an ideal hip thrust, her feet would be a bit closer to her butt (for maximal glute activation, it shortens the hamstrings) and she would be using 5 aerobic steppers for a better range of motion. It is also important to remember to squeeze the glutes and lock out during each rep

Do you see how she has a low back arch in the initial stage of the lift (apt)? She is moving her pelvis from an anterior pelvic tilt to a posterior pelvic tilt. It is also important to remember to squeeze the glutes and lock out during each rep

What will I need?

I should touch on the materials you’ll need. Personally, I prefer using the aerobic risers to hinge off of, but you can use one of the numerous benches in the weight room, considering they’re not too high. Five aerobic steppers including the top piece is normally my choice set up, which equates to around 16” tall, I believe. Also, I use a bar pad on the bar itself, as well as a fairly pliable blue yoga mat underneath, over my hip bones. I used to be able to get away with just using the black bar pad, but as I got up into the 200+ lb range, my hip bones would get nasty, painful bruises and so it became necessary for me to use more padding.

Now, the beginning hip thruster should set everything up in the same manner as the advanced hip thruster would, but instead should initially utilize plates instead of a 45 lb bar, as 45 lbs might be too much weight to start with. I’d suggest completing 4 sets of 8-10 reps with a ten lb plate on your lap. When you can easily complete the 4 sets, you should then move on to 4 sets with a 25 lb plate, then 4 sets with a 35, then finally, 4 sets with the 45 lb bar (then you start loading the bar!).

I currently changed up my hip thrust routine a bit. So… I might have been having a bit too much fun with pyramid sets and I’ll admit, I got really strong with them, (maxed out at 445! I got up REALLY slow, but I got it up and locked it out) but I’m seeing more growth now that I’ve been completing most of my sets with a moderate/heavy weight. Here’s how my hip thrust routine currently looks:

3 sets of 8 reps- 285 lbs

3 sets of 6 reps- 285 lbs

1 set of 8 reps- 225 lbs

1 set of 10-15 reps- 135 lbs

1 set of 15-20 reps with just the bar (45 lbs)

It typically takes me around 40-50 minutes to complete all of my sets. The resulting glute pump is usually so intense that if I plop down on a bench to rest for a minute, I’m up within 20 seconds due to my ass having an ‘on fire’ sensation. Also, it has been a while since I’ve visited that one secluded part of the gym, as I now hump my 285 lb barbell with pride right smack in the center of the weight room. 😉

With a shebang I began, and with a shebang I shall end! I’ve compiled what I believe to be some of the finest tidbits of information from Bret’s glute articles. They only prove to further substantiate my argument supporting  hip thrusts in that they are indeed more effective at targeting and building the glutes than back squatting. These were copied and pasted from various articles located on Bret Contreras’s main website. I feel that I must state that the following text is not my own work, and also, should you care for more in depth information on the hip thrust and it’s ass-mazing benefits, sift through Bret’s main website (especially the glute training category) at https://bretcontreras.com/category/glute-training/. Thanks for checking out my article!

Extra tidbits from Bret

-For these reasons (below), the glutes fire 2-3 times harder in a hip thrust compared to a squat depending on whether examining the mean or peak activation levels. How can this increased activation, when coupled with progressive overload, not matter?

-Are you going to tell me with a serious face that an exercise that leads to greater glute activation, greater hip extension torque especially at end-range (the range where squats and deads are weakest and the range during ground contact in running), and an exercise that packs serious mass onto the glutes is not functional? If so, I have a hard time taking you seriously.

-Squats and deads are not highly loaded at the top of the movements in terms of hip loading. The hips are essentially resting at lockout (there’s some tension on the hip extensors with the deadlift but nowhere close to what you see in the hip thrust). This has some practical implications. The key factors in hypertrophy are mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage. Metabolic stress likely explains why bodybuilders are more muscular than powerlifters despite the fact that powerlifters place more absolute tension on the muscles. This greater constant tension on the glutes with the hip thrust is important for muscle hypertrophy via increased time under tension (TUT) and increased metabolic stress.

-Many lifters fear injury so they never progress very far in squat and deadlift strength, and therefore they leave tons of room on the table for glute development if these are the only two lifts they perform.

-Last, they (barbell hip thrusts) lend themselves incredibly well to progressive overload – a critical component to success in strength, hypertrophy, power, and fat-loss.

-When measuring the hip extension torque angle curves of squats, deadlifts, and hip thrusts, you’ll notice two things. First, that those with experience in all three lifts can achieve much higher hip extension torque levels with hip thrusting. This is due to the stability as well as the decreased demand on the spinal extensors. Many coaches believe that the spine is the limiting factor with squats and deadlifts, and I’d agree with them. Conversely, the hips are the limiting factor with the hip thrust. And second, that the hip extension torque does not drop off at the end-range of movement like it does during squats and deads.

-The hip thrust is actually the lower body equivalent to the bench press. It provides three points of support and takes advantage of gravity to work the hips from a horizontal vector.

-Due to several factors, the hip thrust greatly outperforms squats and deadlifts in glute activation. First and foremost, the glutes are activated to a much greater degree at end-range hip extension when the muscles are at short muscle lengths.

-Third, the knees stay bent, which slackens the hamstrings. The higher up you rise in the hip thrust, the more the hamstrings shorten (hip extension and knee flexion, and even posterior pelvic tilt, all shorten the hammies). This is called “active insufficiency,” whereby the hammies can’t contribute their full force potential, and the glutes are forced to pick up the slack to create the requisite hip extension torque. In other words, the hip thrust equates to less hamstring force and more gluteus force.

-And sixth, EMG rises as a high rep set ensues as the nervous system attempts to compensate for diminished muscle force and contractile efficiency due to fatigue by recruiting more motor units. Many lifters can’t push their squats and deadlifts to ultimate muscular fatigue since their form breaks down too much. Often I have to stop my client’s sets far short of failure on squats and deads even though their glutes aren’t fully fatigued on account of rounding spines, caving knees, and excessive forward leans. However, with hip thrusts the set typically ends when the glutes are burning so badly that they can’t complete another rep. Therefore, the hip thrust leads to greater fatigue of the fibers and greater intensity of effort for the glutes, and this fatigue is critical for maximal hypertrophic gains.

-Since the hip thrust doesn’t require extreme anterior pelvic tilt torque like squats and deads, the glutes can fire harder. Furthermore, the glutes actually are challenged not only as hip extensors but also as posterior pelvic tilters during the hip thrust. The glutes must stabilize the pelvis so it doesn’t drift anteriorly (as an anti-anterior tilter), so even if the pelvis doesn’t posteriorly tilt, the torque (or moment) is there, sort of like the anti-extension torque on the spine in a plank.

-Fifth, the hip thrust activates and builds the upper glutes to a much greater extent than squats, and even to a greater extent than deadlifts.

-However, like most good things, they (squats) are a double-edge sword. The hormone response that you think is so valuable (squats and deads jack up testosterone and growth hormone) is overrated. There is plenty of research on this – squats and deads don’t make the other muscles in the body grow larger like you think. They make the muscles that are highly activated grow larger, but muscles such as the pecs and triceps won’t grow from these movements.

-The lifter is not limited by core stability and spinal extension strength or by balance and coordination. There is no learning curve to the hip thrust – many people master it in their first training session, whereas squats and deadlifts can take years to truly master. The hip thrust is very conducive to progressive overload – perhaps more so than almost any other hip extension exercise, as form is not much of a factor (it’s a simple lift). This is very important for maximal gains over time. Many lifters aren’t very coordinated and their body types (especially many women) aren’t well suited for squats and deads. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t do them; it just means that they shouldn’t be over-focused on progressive overload on these particular exercises. Conversely, every single body type is well-suited for hip thrusts (unless the lifter has a large gut and therefore has problems placing the bar on the hips).

-You don’t have to get sore, and soreness can actually be counterproductive. So some soreness is okay but too much is detrimental. If I wanted people to have sore glutes I’d just give them 3 sets of walking lunges and push the intensity of effort. But this doesn’t produce the best results in terms of hypertrophy, as damage is inferior to tension and metabolic stress. So keep building up your hip thrust!  

-If you studied glute activation like I have, you’d be blown away by the data. Some individual’s glutes contract harder during bodyweight glute activation exercises than from one-rep max squats and deadlifts. This isn’t due to the fact that the individuals don’t know how to use their glutes or don’t adhere to proper exercise form. It’s due to the fact that biomechanically the glutes aren’t maximally involved in squatting, lunging, and deadlifting. They’re only maximally contracted from bent leg hip hyperextension exercises.

-The glutes can’t get too strong in sports. The stronger they get, the more powerfully they contract in sprinting and the better they protect against low back, knee, hamstring, and groin injuries.

-increasing the strength of the gluteus maximus can increase and improve:

• acceleration and top speed in forward sprinting
• power in bilateral and unilateral, vertical and horizontal jumping
• agility and quickness in changing direction from side to side
• acceleration and top speed in lateral sprinting
• rotational power in swinging, striking, and throwing
• running, jumping, and throwing events in track and field
• squat and deadlift strength in powerlifting
• snatch and clean & jerk power in weightlifting
• strength and conditioning in strongman events
• thrusting power for mount escapes and submissions in MMA
• ground-based horizontal pushing force and opponent manipulation in football and martial arts
• inclined sprinting and climbing strength and endurance
• deceleration in backpedaling, lateral running, and rotational movements

 =) Happy Hip Thrusting, Everybody!

My hip thrust results! Much better than the nonexistent results of continual squatting!:) Excuse the fact that I’m in the wc, it’s the easiest accessible mirror

My hip thrust results! Much better than the nonexistent results of continual squatting!:) Excuse the fact that I’m in the wc, it’s the easiest accessible mirror


  • Kevin Butler says:

    Inb4 “Yeah, she hip thrusts” facebook page.

    But seriously, do it Bret !

  • Rob says:

    Are hip thrusts a good exercise to use for correcting excessive APT?

  • Mark says:

    Fantastic, thank you Hailey. I too have been struggling to get solid gains from squats. I gotta get back on the hip thrust train.

  • Derrick Blanton says:

    EXCELLENT article, Hailey. I particularly appreciate the time you took explaining the tilt of the pelvis and how it interrelates with forceful hip extension. Kudos!

    It called to mind a bit of a tricky HT form point that has been on my mind. During the down phase (eccentric portion) of the lift, I’ve seen a couple of techniques demonstrated. Thrusters either:

    1. Try to keep their spine braced, sacrum to cranium, as one long lever, actively pivoting the length of the spine on the fulcrum with the bench, generally preserving the low back position? OR…

    2. Allow the bar to push the pelvis back into APT, thus also allowing the low back to arch into extension, while the upper torso angle above the bench moves very little? (This is the rough mirror equivalent of a “butt wink” on a BSQ, I suppose.)

    My bias: Since we end up using substantial loads as hip strength progresses, it does seem a little dicey to me to “break off the spine” at the thoracolumbar junction, and tilt the pelvis anteriorly as the bar lowers. I have unwittingly done this as a technique to try and get a bounce (usually to try and break some pointless rep record), and experienced a pretty substantial shear force driving the spine front to back, pushing the lumbar into extension.

    Through trial and error, I learned to avoid this by allowing the upper spine above the fulcrum at the bench to also move vertical to horizontal on a line with the lower spine, so that the whole spine acts as a see-saw, actively pivoting on the bench. But in fairness, I have seen many videos of strong hip thrusting where the lifter doesn’t move that much up top above the fulcrum, meanwhile the lumbar spine is arching and then slightly flexing through a pretty significant ROM.

    So maybe this is a perfectly fine technique, and depends on individual spinal mobility, dunno. Anyway, just brainstorming. Fantastic article, In depth and comprehensive. Good job! DB

    • Derrick Blanton says:

      Pt. 2: A quick review of a few videos indicates that the difference in breaking off the torso during HT’s seems to split fairly cleanly along gender lines:

      Men are more likely to plank the entire spine, and move only through the hips, (Scott Brady, of Metal Rhino demonstrates this exactly), while women seem more likely to break the spine off into segments with some actually keeping the head and upper back perfectly flat on the bench looking directly at the ceiling, never moving, while both the back and hips hinge in tandem below the bench fulcrum.

      Again, this may be a totally fine variation, just something that I find interesting from a biomechanical standpoint!

      • Bret says:

        I’ve noticed this same thing Derrick. Men tend to use a more neutral spine bent leg hip hinge approach, whereas women tend to use more of a dynamic spinal pelvic hip movement pattern. Both are fine depending on the client.

  • I’ve found that squats just make my thighs too big. I’m a big fan of BB hip thrusts. I’m the only one in my gym doing them and I get plenty of looks. Today a guy actually begged to help me set up for hip thrusts. Little did he know that moving 45 lb plates and bars is just part of the workout.

  • Kimmy says:

    Bret, I purchased your book and I’ve been doing the hip thrusts and glute bridges adding more weight and bands. Love these exercises. I’ve noticed most of you before and after pictures are of women who didn’t have much a butt and want to build a butt. My problem is I’m very lean and muscular with 6 pack abs and very toned and muscular upper body as well. All my body fat is in my butt and hamstring area. My quads are toned and show great development as well. I’m looking to reduce body fat and build a higher rounder butt. I’ve squatted and lunged and all I got was bigger quads. If spot reduction is a myth as I’ve heard it is, will this work for me. I eat very healthy, carbs are low, protein high, I’m a crossfitter and love heavy lifting. I can build muscle fairly fast, the problem is the fat from my lower body won’t budge. Thanks.

    • Bret says:

      This problem is very common in women, and it’s a bit insane. The upper body can be shredded but the legs still store a bunch of fat. I’ve heard of many strategies over the years, from yohimbine, to higher rep training for the legs, etc. I don’t buy into most “solutions.” I think it’s genetically-inherited but can indeed be improved upon, however, time and patience are required. Best of luck!

      • Kimmy says:

        Thanks for the reply. I’ve taken fat burners and added MCT oil to my diet as it’s also supposed to help burn fat. As a result my abs became more shredded. I know it’s mostly genetics in my case. t But I will say I can tell that my glutes are more lifted and I can see a difference in the way I look in clothes, so I will keep at it.

    • Sara says:

      I has the dame problem and HIIT twice a week worked good for me. I could actually see the fat melting from my legs over time! I took the intervals and aerobics routines from chalean extreme and did them at home. No suffisticated and too mucho time needed :).

  • Sam Csatari says:

    Would you recommend this for a woman between age of 50-60, who has problems with illopsoas and lower back pain?

    • Bret says:

      See a doc or physio first and foremost. They’d likely check hip mobility, check glute activation, check core strength, start progressing upon the basic movement patterns, etc., but it could be something else creating the situation.

  • Tammy says:

    I have a groin issue on my left side. How would I get passed this, and make it better while doing the hip thrusts, as I see problems arising from this. It is due to an ITband problem and having knee surgery bc of that as well.

  • cj says:

    Lol Bret your my hero;)

  • Wow, you are a very dedicated person. It seems like it was trail and error. This post is a great read.

  • Alexa says:

    I have a question for the girl in the last picture, How did you get your waist soooo small? Thats hot!

  • terje says:

    If I wanted to build strength in the hip external rotators, gluteus minimus and medius along with the gluteus maximus, do I need another exercise than the hip thrust? If so, what would it be? How about doing the thrusts with a wider stance, would that activate the rotators and other glute muscles more/sufficietly?

    • Bret says:

      Hip thrusts highly activate lower glute max, upper glute max, and glute med. However, it never hurts to throw in farmer’s walks, lateral band walks, etc.

      • terje says:

        Thanks for all the great information, Bret. I really like the Double Standing Transverse Hip Abduction you demonstrated on YouTube in 2011. Do you still recommend this exercise or is it somehow inferior to side lying abduction and lateral band walks? I mean from a subjective effort viewpoint it seems like it works the lateral hip like nothing else! I mean it even integrates resistance stretching.

  • This is amazing! Hailey has achieved some serious results with dedication and perseverance. A tough girl who knows what she wants and will do anything in her power to achieve it. This got me all fired up . I was going to start my workout plan tomorrow with squatting as I too have read many articles about how effective it is in curving up to great shape your behind. I have changed my mind. I will definitely be trying hip thrusting tomorrow.

  • BB says:

    Hailey or anyone else, can you please chime in on where you get those steppers /risers? The one in this pic:
    only shows 4 of the risers? I’m struggling to find any in the UK that are sold as the platform and 5 x 2 =10 risers. Can anyone please link something similar.

    Hailey, your results are great by the way!! How tall are you?

  • this article makes the reasoning behind hip-thrusting v. squatting so easy to understand. I hadn’t thought at all about the anterior/posterior hip tilt. thanks for illuminating me! I will share this with my clients. that said, is the routine the author listed okay volume-wise?
    this is what she wrote:
    3 sets of 8 reps- 285 lbs
    3 sets of 6 reps- 285 lbs
    1 set of 8 reps- 225 lbs
    1 set of 10-15 reps- 135 lbs
    1 set of 15-20 reps with just the bar (45 lbs)
    it seems like an awful lot for one session. how often is it performed?
    thank you very much!

  • Tonya says:

    Hi Bret,

    I have a question about the Strong Curves programmes and butt size/shape. I decided to do the lower body only but 4 times a week and i kept this up until i had 2 weeks left of the programme. Unfortunately my boyfriend noticed that my butt was smaller and less juicy and he was right, it had flattened out although i had gotten stronger and worked with full dedication in the gym. I got to about 100 kg on the hip thrust. I think i lost quite a bit of weight, so if I am to continue, I need to step my eating game up, but im afraid of losing my butt completely and dissapoint both myself and my booty crazed bf!

    Did it get smaller due to weight loss or is the size changing because of muscle development? Ive always had a nice behind probably due to many years of ballett but i would love to add size and perk!
    Do you have any answers or tips in regards to my situation? I think i might reduce to 3 times a week and eat alot more to see if it helps. Wonder what else i could be doing wrong..?

    Thanks for your time and an amazing website!

  • Hailey Harber says:

    Hi everyone. Sorry I’m so late on the replies. I’ll try to get to each one, but before I do, a big thanks to everyone! I appreciate the feedback. 🙂

    Alexa- Haha thanks. I’ve always had a fairly small waist. I used to be quite obsessed with it. I think the only reason I ever gave it a second thought was because it was constantly made known to me how small it was. Therefore, keeping it that way became my sole focus. But as far as if I implement any specific thing to keep it small, no, I don’t. I just try to eat healthy. Also, don’t engage in too many ab exercises. I’ve found this to bulk up my waist- no bueno.

    BB- I’m not too sure where you can BUY risers, as I just use the ones available at my gym. However, I’m sure you can find them online somewhere. Also, I’m 5’4. 🙂

    Elise A. Miller- I try to do 40-60 reps of the hip thrust alone. I initially wasn’t sure about the volume but had asked Bret what he thought, and that was his recommendation. It sort of is a lot, and my whole body feels extremely drained about halfway through (even though this is my workout starter) but I just push it until I’m waddling around and my glutes are on fire. I actually ended up doing the same thing initially with glute bridges. I would begin my workout with them (before I started hip thrusting) and would do about 8 sets of 7-8 with relatively heavy weight, (250-325) so I thought I should try to carry the volume over and do what I can to burn myself out, since it’s the money lift. 🙂

    Tonya- I know you’re directing your question at Bret, and I’m sure he can give you better advice than I can, but I’m just going to add in my two cents. Now, I have a question. Were you trying to solely build a nice rear, or were you also trying to lose weight? Many people who have excess fat to shed might find themselves a bit torn. Should they eat at a deficit, lift heavy and incorporate quite a bit of cardio to loose weight while trying to sculpt their behind, or should they eat at a surplus, hoping that lifting heavy enough with light cardio will not only be sufficient to burn the fat, but sculpt/build a nice rear as well? I’d say it really depends on the person and the routine, and finding what is best for you. Also, has your waist gotten smaller as well, or just your rear? Don’t forget to look at proportions. Depending on how much fat you lost, I’m sure your butt might appear smaller than it initially was, but your body as a whole will also appear smaller as a result of loosing fat. Perhaps your waist/hip ratio has actually increased, even if your bum is a bit smaller (less fatty) than it was prior. Don’t be discouraged. If I were you, I’d take measurements and use them to gauge growth/loss. Also, if you strictly want to build, eat at a surplus. =)

    • BB says:

      Thanks for replying Hailey. That’s very nice of you! Wow, 38″ sounds like a lot on a 5’4″ woman, but it looks nice on you and your pics provide a great visual (on what that looks like). I’m 5’6.5″ After weight loss, I’m closer to 36″ but I’m shooting for 37″ solely to fill out my jeans and some dresses better. Love your results. Thank you for being so detailed. I’m still struggling to find the 16″ risers, so what I’ll have to do for now is use my 20″ bed and not lower myself down fully.

  • Hailey Harber says:


    Well I’m sure most people might think 38″ is quite a bit of butt for my height, but it’s not enough for me. LOL. I actually have a fairly short torso and long legs, so it doesn’t look CRAZILY out of proportion. But thanks for the positive feedback. Also, a 20″ bed seems very high- too high. Perhaps there is something around the house that you can stack up flat (that is stable as well) to 16 or so inches? I’d actually consider barbell glute bridges off the floor more effective than using something for hip thrusts that is too high. I’d hate to take away from any glute activation. Maybe you have some plywood out back that you can stack up (or something similar [sturdy and flat]) and can perhaps lay a towel over it to hip thrust off of? Where there’s a will, there’s a way! 🙂

    • BB says:

      Hailey, you’ve Very encouraging and inspiring; do you realise that? I have a fairly short torso and long legs as well. I’ve actually now been rethinking my goals lol.. whether I should shoot for 37.5″ instead of 37″. Like you said, I don’t think it would look out of proportion. I also found some poofs in the house (google it if it’s not a US thing) which I’ve been using for the past 2 days. They are MUCH better than my bed.. closer to 16″ and can fit in my room. Thanks so much for your original article and your replies. Very helpful 🙂

      • Hailey Harber says:

        Glad you found something that will work! No- I don’t believe that an extra .5 of an inch will look out of proportion. In my opinion, the more the merrier! 🙂 I wish you the best and thank you very much for the compliment. 🙂

        • BB says:

          Yep, part of me is definitely curious in how far I can go. Although I’m quite “tall”, people have said I’m nice and petite or nice and slim, so I can definitely relate to what you said about wanting more. I’d love to maintain my size but would definitely like to really fill out my dresses and jeans and just want more back there :). Hailey, one last thing, what do you typically eat in a day /week? I’m just curious. I’m well aware of calories and have maintained my weight pretty easily, but I’m always interested in what people eat, since you have such a nice waist. I love my snacks but meal ideas are always great.

          • Hailey Harber says:

            I don’t even understand how I can eat like I do and still have a small waist. I’ve actually always just eaten when I am hungry, which can be a lot most of the time. Keeping track of macros/calories is something I’ve never done. Lately, I have become more conscious of fat, as a friend of mine had directed me to this great website (rippedbody.jp.) and I realized that my fat intake was lower than it should be if I’m trying to gain. I try to stay away from extremely processed foods though, and I normally don’t eat any dairy and try to stay away from white refined sugar, as they make me break out. Here’s what I had yesterday. 3 eggs mixed with a slice of chopped up turkey and two fresh beet tops, tore up and mixed in (with rotel, [salsa] which sucks since it’s out of a can [fluoride]). On the side I had two pieces of toast (Jewish rye) with peanut butter and organic maple syrup on top. And I don’t skimp on the maple syrup. Lol. In between breakfast and lunch I had coffee with nondairy creamer (I really don’t like the ingredients in the creamer, but I’d rather not break out from using milk ), 2-3 teaspoons of organic coconut sugar, and a tablespoon of protein powder with spirulina. I normally don’t take any protein or sups (because of all the artificial crap in them, and protein powder makes me break out also [dairy based]) but I’ve been anal with protein lately and have decided that getting more is better than not getting enough, and I don’t eat enough lean meat as it is. For lunch I had a turkey sandwich with tomato, beet tops, and mayo (I love beet tops, we grow them fresh). We usually buy Jewish rye bread or dark, whole grainy breads. After lunch, more coffee. I’ll drink about two cups a day. For dinner I had a plate full (it was a lot) of spaghetti. It is homemade though, not made with pre-made sauce. Our spag sauce has ground beef, tomatoes, tomato paste (the sauce starter is out of a can, though, which I don’t like due to fluoride concerns), fresh garlic and spices, onion, black olives, mushrooms, and red pepper. On top of the spag was a chicken breast, and on the side, a salad with iceberg, spinach, and tomato. (Topped with EVOO and balsalmic vinegar). Later that night I got home and ate more spag. It was around midnight lol. But it really varies. I just try to stay away from really processed foods (avoiding things out of packages and boxes, even out of cans if I can). Sometimes if I feel like I’m not getting enough fat (extra virgin olive oil, peanut butter, etc.) I’ll have two pieces of toast with peanut butter and maple syrup on them as an after dinner snack. I wish I could help you out more with meal plans, though.

          • BB says:

            I can’t reply to your post for some reason, but just wanted to say thank you 🙂

  • Dusty says:

    While I’ve got no problem with doing stupid looking accesory movements because they’re effective (see: reverse hypers). You’re throwing the baby out with the bath water in your conclusions that squatting is an ineffective way to make your ass strong.

    It doesn’t take a coach to see that during the first 8 months you saw beginner gains. Your progress up to 235 following whatever rep/set scheme you came up with worked because you were new. Once you hit the end of the initial LP. You would probably have to follow an actual program (5/3/1, Texas Method, Hatch, Smolov etc). The fact that you were “constantly sore” shows me whatever squat “program” you were following sucked or you were taking long breaks.
    The other reason your squats did nothing for your ass is because from the sounds of it (wide stance, squatting to parallel only) you were low bar squatting. LB squatting is a hamstring dominant movement, not your glutes. You should have been highbar squatting ass to ankles, recruiting your glutes and quads. Go look at the physique’s of almost any oly weightlifter if you want to see the results.

    Bottom line is, Glute bridges are a good accessory movement. Squatting wasn’t at fault for your failure, being new and not having any real idea what you were doing other than, put barbell on back and squat 40 reps in whatever random rep and load scheme seems appropropriate that day.

  • Emmanuelle says:

    Hi Hailey,
    Could you just say how many times per week you make Hip Thrust ?
    Do you do others glutes exercises ?
    Thanks a lot,


  • Hailey Harber says:

    Dusty- I never said that squatting won’t make you STRONG. I just don’t believe it’s the lift of choice for the glute hypertrophy, and that was my goal. Does time under tension not triumph your ‘5/3/1’ and other similar squatting methods for hypertrophy? 5-6 sets of 8 reps mid stance at 185 for more or less 5 months (every other day) is most definitely a higher volume than ‘5/3/1’ (although I believe that the 5/3/1 might be beneficial strength wise, but not for hypertrophy).

    “Powerlifters generally train in a low rep range (1-5 reps) while bodybuilders tend to favor a moderate rep range (6-12). The adaptations associated with these rep ranges may explain at least part of the hypertrophic differences between these two classes of athletes (Schoenfeld, 2010).

    Performing higher reps would theoretically result in a greater hypertrophy of Type 1 fibers. As previously noted, Type 1 fibers are endurance-oriented and thus respond best to longer times under tension. The low-rep training employed by powerlifters simply doesn’t allow enough time under tension for significant development of these fibers (Tesch et al. 1984).

    Moderate rep training promotes a greater muscle pump. While the pump is often thought of as a short-term training effect, it may result in greater muscle development. Studies show that cellular swelling causes both an increase in protein synthesis and a decrease in protein breakdown (Grant et al., 2000; Stoll et al., 1992; Millar et al., 1997).

    It’s theorized that an increase in water within the muscle cell – consistent with the mechanisms associated with “the pump” – is perceived as a threat to its integrity.

    In response, the cell initiates a signaling cascade that ultimately causes the muscle to grow larger to protect the ultra-structure. In addition, greater occlusion and hypoxia may be associated with higher rep pump-style training, which can induce growth through increases in growth factor production and possibly satellite cell fusion (Vierck et al., 2000). ” http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/why_bodybuilders_are_more_jacked_than_powerlifters

    Also, the second method you mentioned (The Texas 5×5 method) is discussed in many online articles as being optimal for those looking for programs to increase strength. Of course SOME gains might accompany getting stronger, but it doesn’t look as beneficial as a higher volume mid rep hypertrophy aimed program.

    “In Neuromechanics of Human Movement, Roger Enoka (Enoka, 2008) lists eight potential neurological areas for non-hypertrophy related strength gains:

    Enhanced output from supraspinal centers as suggested by findings with imagined contractions
    Reduced coactivation of antagonist muscles
    Greater activation of agonist and synergist muscles
    Enhanced coupling of spinal interneurons that produces cross-education
    Changes in descending drive that reduce the bilateral deficit
    Shared input to motor neurons that increases motor unit synchronization
    Greater muscle activation (EMG)
    Heightened excitability and altered connections into motor neurons

    Of all of these adaptations, basic coordination between the muscles is the single greatest contributor to non-hypertrophy related strength gains. Along with neurological adaptations, adaptations involving increased stiffness in the tissues that connect from bone to bone (including tendons, extracellular matrix, etc.) can lead to increased force transmission from muscle to bone, and play a significant role in increased strength gains.”

    “Bodybuilders have been saying for years that it’s not just about the amount or resistance used, it’s also about the manner of execution. Professional bodybuilders typically control the weight and use a smooth tempo, whereas many powerlifters allow some form deterioration when approaching a max.”

    Furthermore, due to the fact that I have a short torso and long legs, I can squat about 1″ below parallel before my back rounds, and I WILL NOT squat with a rounded back. Forget ass to grass, I’d rather be safe.

    Squats might affect you very different than they do me, or anyone else. We weren’t created with bodies that COMPLETELY mirror each others.

    “Some people respond best to variety, some to volume, some to intensity, some to frequency, and some to density. You have to discover the best stimulis for your body, which evolves over time.”

    Take a look at this.-

    “Strength is dependent on plenty of factors, but tendon insertions play a huge role in the ability to exert maximal force. Let’s use a biceps curl as an example. Say you’re curling a 60-pound dumbbell and you’re halfway up at 90 degrees and moving very slowly. To figure out a general estimate of muscle force requirements of the biceps (we’ll ignore the other elbow flexors for simplicity), you divide the moment of the resistance arm by the length of the muscle arm.

    This means that you multiply the resistance (60 pounds) by the resistance arm (say 15 inches from the elbow to the dumbbell) and then divide it by the muscle arm (say 1 inch from the elbow to the biceps insertion). This gives us 900 inch-pounds (a measure of torque). In this example, the biceps must produce 900 inch-pounds of force.

    What happens if the individual’s biceps tendon inserts 2 inches away from the fulcrum? Now you divide by 2 instead of 1, which means that the biceps now only has to produce 450 inch-pounds of force to hold a 60-pound dumbbell at a 90-degree elbow angle.

    “This demonstrates just how advantageous tendon insertions are to external force production – two guys could have equal strength in their biceps but one can lift twice the amount of weight due to advantageous leverages. Torso, arm, femur, and tibia lengths and proportions all play a large role in the display of strength as well.

    Also, check this out if you haven’t. It’s very interesting. http://themovementfix.com/the-best-kept-secret-why-people-have-to-squat-differently/

    Also, what have to you say against pelvic mechanics and their role in squats and hip thrusts? Go back and re-read the “Tidbits from Bret.” How can you ignore all of that?

    I’d agree that many Oly weight lifters do have nice physiques, particularly quads (as far as the low body is concerned). But as for their waist/overall body ratio, their glutes don’t look considerably larger than the rest of their body. Now, show me an Oly lifter who has a waist-hip ratio difference of 15″+ which was attained solely from squats, and I might start considering squats again (then again, not the kind you’re advocating). Also, you need to realize that I’m not bashing ALL squats. I still front squat for my quads, and since implementing them I’ve definitely seen quad gains.

    This is MY story. I’m suggesting that people do a little dabbling around to discover what is most effective for them.

    You’re not to first person to consider me a complete newby/crazy nut, and you won’t be the last.

  • Hailey Harber says:

    Emmanuelle- I hip thrust once every three days. That is just my starter, though. After hip thrusts, I do kick backs with the smith machine (I don’t have a reverse hyper), followed by modified back extensions in which I keep my torso relatively straight and don’t over extend my lumbar. After these, I do front squats, and the a few sets of glute bridges just to get an extra glute burn. 🙂

    • Emmanuelle says:

      Sorry Hailey ! I didn’t see your answer ! Thanks a lot !!!
      That seems to be a hard and wonderful training routine ! 🙂
      Do you have a special diet coupled with your training ?
      Sorry one time more,


      • Hailey Harber says:

        Haha yeah sometimes I have to mentally prepare myself before my workout. It can get very trying. As far as my diet, I don’t really do anything in particular except stay away from processed foods. If you want an example of what I eat in a day, scroll up and look at my reply to BB. Hope I helped! 🙂

    • Linda Baker says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to post such detailed and helpful information. You’re energy is infectious! I’ve been heavy back squatting for the past 8 months now and while I’ve seen improvements in the firmness and shape of my butt, my thighs have also increased in size – which is not exactly what I was aiming for. I can’t wait to start trying hip thrusters now!

      Couple of questions about the Smith Machine kickbacks you mentioned. Do you recommend doing them on a bench or a yoga mat on the floor? And how the heck do rack and unrack without out a spotter? I’m so afraid to try these for fear of completely embarrassing and/or injuring myself. Thanks again!

  • Claire says:

    Hi Bret.

    I’ve been inspired by you and Hailey to start doing barbell hip thrusts! My biggest problem is that the bar digs into my hips – I hate to complain, but it really kills! And I’ve not even gotten to 200 lbs. I tried using a pad and a yoga mat – didn’t help. Now, I’m sing an Airex pad, but that’s not comfortable. I can’t figure out how Hailey can do it with such heavy weight.

    Also, I really feel this in my quads as well as the backside – am I doing something wrong?


    • Derrick Blanton says:

      Gluteal Cueing Package to counter quad dominance, hamstring dominance, or gluteal amnesia. In sequence:

      1. Once securely in position, engage your abs HARD before you do anything. “Wall off your pelvis”, or “connect the pelvis”. Do this three times, and then hold the contraction. Then…

      2. Now crush the floor with the outside of your heel, (feet are still flat). “Make a dent in the floor”. Don’t even think about lifting the bar, it will rise all on its own. Rather, think of the bar as just a WEDGE in your way in your life or death battle to break the floor. Just crush the living shit out of that floor! Straight down.

      3. As the bar starts to rise: “Touch your tailbone to your ankles.” Imagine driving your tailbone on a line towards your feet.

      Sometimes more external cues (break the floor!) may work for some, not all, better than internal cues (squeeze your glutes!). Why certain cues work for some more than others is a mystery, except our brains are unique, and our brains control movement. “Tear the bar down” on a pull up excites the nervous system more than “pull yourself up to the bar”.. dunno. Dunno.

      Another option is to get a massive gluteal pump with high rep banded abduction, and while your glutes are still on fire, go right into a HT.

      Hip protection. Hampton Thick Bar Pad. Recommended by Bret Contreras circa 2009. Hopefully still available. Not only does it eliminate discomfort but it squeezes you closer to the floor, which is almost like wearing a belt to pull, it creates a bit of an extension reflex at the hip. Mine is still going strong after 4-5-years.

      Hope any or all of this is useful. DB

  • Hailey Harber says:

    Hmmm. Usually I’m fine with the bar pad and a yoga mat, but I’ll fold the yoga mat three times and I’ll have to hold it there (or it might unfold) as I roll the bar up onto it. Have you tried folding the mat a few times? Also, before I used a yoga mat, I rolled up a towel and used that. It worked fairly well also, but not as well as the yoga mat (for me personally).

    Don’t fret- this is normal. I feel this in my quads also, particularly my teardrops. If I remember correctly, there’s a comment under another one of Bret’s articles (not sure which) that discusses this, and if I’m not mistaken, Bret replied stating that the quads actually contract harder in a hip thrust than with a squat. Also, I believe there was another article in which Bret was training a young lady (I believe his fiance, not sure) who only felt it in her quads, not her glutes. But when he tested her with EMG, her glute activation was apparently through the roof, even though she wasn’t feeling it. Today was my gym day and let me tell you. Not only was my ass on fire, my quads were developing a wee bit of a burn also. Just be sure you’re pushing through your heels, not your toes. Hope I helped! 🙂

  • Claire says:

    Thanks Derrick & Hailey!
    Hailey – I did try a folded mat, but it still really hurts. But, I will keep going in an effort to get my butt to look half as good as yours 🙂

    • Hailey Harber says:

      Claire, is the bar directly over your hip bones when you thrust? Or do you mean it is generally in the hip ‘area’ and it is over skin? When I first began glute bridging (not thrusting) the bar would sometimes roll back over my hip bones, and man oh man it was painful. But when I hold the bar steady about an inch below my hip hones (over skin, almost directly over my pubic area), it isn’t painful for me. Perhaps it’s really painful due to the bar being directly above your actual hip bones?

  • IM says:


    Have you ever tested glute activation on… Not even sure what to call it. I stand on the assisted pullup/ dip machine and push down on the platform with one leg. It really burns the glutes and since the knee is bent, it feels similar to a quadrupled donkey kick. It’s big on fitness blogs and social media accounts. I certainly wouldn’t skip my hip thrusts for it but it might be a nice standing alternative to donkey kicks, just to mix it up sometimes. Would love to hear your thoughts.

    • Hailey Harber says:

      IM- You’ve got me wondering as well. Do you push down with your heel? I saw a picture of a girl doing this the other day and I was wondering what was up. Do you know if this exercise has a name? I’m going to look more into this now. Thanks.

      • Robert says:

        Hailey, this is Robert Rodriguez, fantastic job at thoroughly explaining this exercise. It’s inspiring to see your devotion to exercise and health. Hope all is well.

        • Hailey Harber says:

          Thanks! Hope all is well with you, too! 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to check out my article. 🙂

  • Danielle says:

    Hailey – the information in this article is phenomenal! Like you, I saw little to no difference in my glutes with squatting but I have seen a vast improvement after stumbling upon Bret ‘ s website and training videos. IM- I have seen a lot of bikini competitors who do the “glute push down” on the assisted pull up machine and they swear it kicks out results and helps the glutes grow. I’ve been trying it on and off and it seems to really work the glutes and hams. How much weight do you typically do? Hailey – have you tried this/ found this to be effective?

    • Hailey Harber says:

      No I haven’t tried the glute ‘push down’ method. I need to look it up so if I do try it I can execute it with proper form. No use attempting it only to not feel my glutes working because I’m doing it wrong. But thank you very much for checking my article out. As far as, “how much weight do you do,” were you referring to hip thrusting or the ‘push down?’

      • Derrick Blanton says:

        The “glute push down” appears to be a stabilized open kinetic chain variation of the classic step up exercise.

        i.e. what a leg press is to a SQ, the “GPD” is to the step up.

        • Derrick Blanton says:

          So if you don’t have access to an assisted pull up machine, you could roughly duplicate the action by holding a TRX strap and stepping onto a plyo box, or even a stairwell holding the rail, pivoting axially at the hip, swinging the other hip through while never extending the working leg’s knee anywhere close to lockout.

          Actually to make it even better, band the back leg against hip flexion which will increase the activity of the working hip.

  • Erica says:

    Hi Hailey! Thanks so much for sharing all of this information about your journey and workouts. I started hip thrusting and glute bridging several months ago once I realized that squats and the like weren’t doing it for me. The thing is that I enjoy doing back squats, I would just like to bring up my glutes relative to my legs. My thought is to only do squats every other workout, yet I’m not sure if I will see good progression on it only doing it only 1-2 times per week. I’m also unsure if I should do bridges and thrusts on the same day. I have recently “restarted” with hip thrusts in a sense because I was recruiting way too much lower back during them. Bridges allow me to really use my glutes but I want to get better at both because I like them both! I like high volume but worry it’s detrimental or just a waste of time. Although it sounds like volume has been working great for you.

    • Hailey Harber says:

      Hey Erica! Just some thoughts- Glad you decided to give these variations a try. When I back squatted oh so long ago, (after I began barbell glute bridging), I would hop straight into barbell glute bridging 265-315 for 7-8 sets of 8 right after my 7-8 sets of 8 reps of 185lb squats. Getting everything done in one day just works best for me; although at one point I felt that maybe there was a better method I hadn’t tried yet, so I ended up tinkering around with my gym schedule. I tried utilizing a new method which had a designated day for quads, then skip a day, then glute day, skip a day, quads, skip a day, etc. But I found that I respond best to getting everything done in one day (taking 5-10 minute breaks in between each lift), then putting 2-3 (usually 2) days rest in between. As far as volume, the hip thrust is just about the only lift I go all out on. All my other auxiliaries are usually 4-5 sets of 8-12. But I usually like to do at least 40 reps for the hip thrust (or 5 good sets of 8, to where my ass is burning). Feeling ‘the burn’ is a very good indicator of hypertrophy. Now- use too light of a weight and it will be more of a cardio session. Use too heavy of a weight and you risk injury while also running the risk of not activating the proper muscles due to improper form. I’d say when you can do 3-4 sets of 8 easily at a certain weight, then increase the weight. Just start off slowly and work up. Chase the burn, girl! 🙂

  • Steph says:

    Hi Hailey!!

    Recently I have started Bret’s 12 Week Gorgeous Glutes Program and noticed that Barbel Hip Thrusting only consisted of 3 sets of 8 – 12 reps. Do you believe it would benefit me more to do Hip thrusts the pyramid method or to stick with the original method?

    • Hailey says:

      Steph, I would do what Bret recommends in his book. Three sets are perfect for now, as you are just beginning. 🙂

  • BB says:

    Hi Hailey, I’m not sure if you’re still visiting, but I just wondered if your bum ever took on a round shape with squats alone, or does the roundness come from added inches?

    I’m happy with my bum size when I kind of lift my bum up with my hands (lol) in the mirror, but it is Not that round and could stand to be rounder, particular my upper glutes.

    Would I have to build and build /add inches just to get roundness from the side? Or can squats, hip thrusts, any exercise really -just lift the fat I have up to take on a rounder shape /give me nice upper glutes, while staying the same size?

    I hope that makes sense! In short, I have the size I want, but I really like the roundness of glutes from the side, yours included in the hip thrust picture! Not sure if the roundness comes from inches of added muscle, or if lifting in general can allow you to keep your size, but take on a nice shape?


    • BB says:

      I’m just coming back to say I think I’ve answered my own questions Hailey, so you don’t have to worry. I think a lot of roundness from the side comes from more muscle mass or size. Although I’ve continually trained, I do need to up the weights if I want 1/2″-1″ more without the pump. Thank you for the detailed article. I re-read parts of it, and definitely want to be in between toned and curvy. Feminine but not very exaggerated in either the tiny or curvy department. Toned upper half with a nice derriere. Thank you again!

  • Daniel Cassidy says:

    I follow you on IG and I have to admit you are one extremely gorgeous, flawless and extremely sexy.

  • Delon says:

    Hi Hailey.

    Referring to your post on “April 15, 2014 at 9:48 pm”, you said “… then putting 2-3 (usually 2) days rest in between.”, you mean for example, if it’s 2 days rest in between, if your workout is Mon, you’ll rest on Tue & Wed then workout on Thu?

    • Hailey says:


      Yes. But I had to recently change my schedule due to school and work. My new gym days are Monday and Friday. 🙂

  • Sally says:

    Can you recommend a good routine for a beginner? I just got a bar and a bench but I’m very new to weight training. I had been squaring forever with zero results. The bar is still heavy but I’m unsure of how many reps to do and sets and when to add more. Thanks

  • bb says:

    Squats didn’t fail you. You weren’t doing squats; you were doing half- squats. Squatting to parallel is not a real squat. If you had really researched squat depth, you would know that. Don’t fail to do it ATG, then blame squats. That’s wrong.

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