Charles Staley on Band Hip Thrusts

By March 14, 2014 Glute Training, Glutes

Charles Staley and I have been training together for almost two years. In fact, HERE is a “glute-off” we had a year ago, where we worked our way up to 600-lb hip thrusts. Strangely, Charles doesn’t feel barbell hip thrusts working his glutes much. This is hard for me to comprehend, since they make my glutes burn so bad I can hardly stand it (it often takes me twenty minutes just to walk properly following three sets of hip thrusts due to the massive glute pump).

At any rate, Charles doesn’t feel squats, deadlifts, lunges, back extensions, or hip thrusts in his glutes either. We often joke that he lacks glute muscles and that his hamstrings run right up into his back.¬†He doesn’t feel anything working his glutes and never feels the burn. That is, until now. For some strange reason, certain lifters who struggle to feel their glutes will find that the band hip thrust does the trick. Here’s what Charles had to say after doing band hip thrusts for the first time:

I don’t exactly know why this phenomenon occurs. I suppose that it has to do with the emphasis on end-range hip extension torque (the tension really kicks in right at the top, where the glutes activate to the highest degree). My colleagues Nia Shanks and Emily Soccolinsky have noticed the same phenomenon in their training – they feel the band hip thrust working their glutes much more so than the barbell. Maybe they can offer a better explanation than I can. Most of my lifting partners and clients prefer bands (I still prefer barbell, but I do a 50/50 split of bar/band).

I have my girlfriend Diana doing barbell hip thrusts once per week and band hip thrusts 3 times per week. Some trainers who have purchased Hip Thrusters have informed me that they no longer use the barbell with their clients and stick solely to bands since they’re much better tolerated. HERE is how we do band hip thrusts, but you can get crafty and rig something up like we showed in THIS article if you don’t yet own a Hip Thruster.

If you struggle to feel your glutes firing properly during glute exercises, then the band hip thrust might be a great fit for you.

Hip Thruster barbell band

The Hip Thruster is the best way to do the hip thrust – stable and versatile!


  • Emily says:

    I did barbell hip thrusts the other day for a set of 10 at 315. I could not believe how easy it was to work up to this. I felt my glutes…..but NOTHING like I feel when I do band hip thrusts. Add a mini band around my knees and I can barely walk afterwards the burn is so bad. I had to open the window at my gym the other day and it was about 20 degrees outside. I didn’t care though….I needed some air. ūüėČ I almost start crying (happily) after a set as I struggle to get the bands off from around my knees. Band hip thrusts are killers for my glutes. I do them before I do any squatting – back squats, split squats, skater squats. They get my glutes ready for action and I feel like I have a cement block for a butt afterwards. It’s amazing. No other exercise burns them like band hip thrusts. Love it.


  • Bob says:

    Where can we get he bands at? I’m like Charles, I can never seem to hit my glutes either.

  • Nikki says:

    Hmmm, I feel regular hip thrusts in my glutes, but I want to try the band method. Unfortunately, my gym has no power rack, only a smith machine so I have no where to try it. I was googling and came across an instructional on how to bridge using heavy dumbbells of all things. What do you think?

  • Peter says:

    I own a Hip Thruster, and I must say I much prefer using a barbell with heavy weights over bands for glute work. I can not seem to get a good workout using bands alone. In fact, I only use the bands as a burn out set every so often. Cool to know they are working for some people though. Maybe I will give them another chance soon.

    • Bret says:

      Peter – I like barbell more too, but I’m the minority. All of my lifting partners prefer bands. Charles, Andrew, Joey, Mike, etc. We started elevating the bar into mats to allow more space, so hopefully that entices them to use the barbell more often. I like doing barbell at least once per week. Then the rest with bands as it doesn’t seem to impair recovery at all. If I use a strong (long) band, I can do 30 reps with full hip hyperextension and it burns like crazy. If I use the monster band, then I can do 15 reps but I don’t seem to quite reach full hip ROM. But the tension is insane (only at the top). We only go down half-way to try to keep more tension on the glutes. Also, we do the American style on these which definitely elicits more glute activation (in all 4 subjects tested so far). Anyway, thanks for the feedback. I think you can figure out a way to get the bands to work for you, it just requires some persistence and experimentation. – BC

  • david brewer says:

    I was thinking about including this exercise in my off-season Girls Basketball program. Thank you for making the decision so easy. Great videos!

  • Tim says:

    I have felt a deep burn when repping out w/ a bb, but in my more consistent hip thrusting days (working up to sets of mid 300’s for 6-8 or so) I didn’t feel much nor a burn afterwards… Need to give band thrust more of a try!

  • zoe says:

    Banded Hip Thrusts is the the only exercise that guarantees a burn in the glutes for me. The others are hit or miss-mostly a miss…because hammies grab the attention! Itie the bands to a barbell which lies beneath me as I support my shoulders on a couch. I know these will make my glutes a success and fast!

  • Dunkman says:

    Not sure if this plays a role but I find that although I can go very heavy, I get the greatest burn when I go at around half my max, using paused reps. I suspect that it is either the fact that going heavy breaks down my technique or perhaps it’s the mind-muscle effect. Or maybe both?

    • Bret says:

      Many of my girls from say the same thing. They call it their “sweet spot” – the load that they feel maximizes their glute activation/pump/burn. I’ve been testing this theory out in EMG and it holds true for certain people but not all. For example, Sammie gets higher glute activation the heavier she goes – it’s almost linear from 185 to 225 to 275 to 315. However, I seem to top out at 455 and my glutes don’t activate more when going heavier than that (up to 545). This is true for Erin as well, she doesn’t go up much when moving from 155 to 205. Very interesting area of research!

  • Stu says:

    The goal is to achieve extension/hyperextension at the hip. My hypothesis as to why some individuals feel more glute activation with the bands is due to the maximal tension of the bands when fully lengthened (at full hip extension/hyperextension) vs. BB load dues not change throughout the entire ROM. If we have worked on improving hip mobility/ stability prior to loading the hip thrust then end range overload is acchieved. Thoughts?

    • Bret says:

      I think it definitely has to do with the strength curve…Charles will “lock in” full hip extension and hold it there for a moment with the bands using glutes. With the barbell, he may fling it up using a lot of hammies and then not really lock it in up top with glutes. I should test his EMG and look at the patterns between the two. Add that to the list of things that need to be tested!

  • Chris says:

    Do you ever attach bands to the barbell for hip thrusts?

  • Nicole says:

    Hi Bret, Can I set up my strong curves routine with straight sets only?

  • Tomek says:

    Bret, do you have any tips for people that feel slight knee pain/tension around knees when doing hip thrusts? Did you encounter this problem with some of your trainees?

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