Frog Pumps and Frog Thrusts

By March 18, 2016 Glute Training, Glutes

Last June, I posted a blog on Frog Pumps – a simple but highly effective glute activation drill. I recall being baffled when I posted it because although I only spent 40 minutes filming the video and writing the blogpost, it received 1.2K likes and 362 shares on Facebook. I’ve posted blogposts that took me weeks to write and included numerous scientific references but received a fraction of the social media attention. But I digress…

I love my different glute exercises. My favorite glute exercise changes throughout the year depending on my training focus.

Obviously, barbell hip thrusts are my usual favorite. I have indeed noticed in my own training that heavy barbell hip thrusts make my glutes grow more than anything else, and I happen to believe that they’re the best exercise for the masses for growing glutes. However, over the years, I’ve gotten very strong at barbell hip thrusts. When I first introduced barbell hip thrusts to the S&C community 7 years ago, I was using 405 lbs for my top sets (I haven’t watched the video of these in quite some time, and my reps used to be smoother, but that’s besides the point), but nowadays I’m using 545-635 lbs for my top sets.

It is daunting to try to utilize progressive overload at this point, so lately I periodize my barbell hip thrust training. For now, I’ve put barbell hip thrusts on the back burner in maintenance mode, and I perform them just once per week without going for PRs. Every few months, I’ll hit barbell hip thrusts twice per week for 6 weeks and try to reach a new all time PR. That’s what I did last year when I hip thrusted 725 for 1 rep in September, and that’s what I intend on doing again in another month or so.

It’s a pain in the butt to load 545-635 lbs onto the bar, especially on days when I’m wiped out from heavy squats and deadlifts. Moreover, since heavy hip thrusts work a ton of quad, ham, adductor, and erector muscle in addition to glutes, they are taxing on the system once you get strong at them.

Since my knees have been feeling great lately, I’ve been focusing on the full squat. I also need to get my deadlift back up to par. Even though squats and deadlifts are probably the most popular two glute exercises in existence, I never feel like I received an adequate glute workout after just performing these two lifts. Therefore, I like “burning out” my glutes with a non-taxing exercise after I squat and deadlift so I feel like I fully fatigued my glute fibers. 

For this reason, frog pumps have recently become my favorite glute exercise. If my sole goal was to maximize my glute size, then three times per week, I’d perform 4 sets of either barbell hip thrusts, band hip thrusts, double band hip thrusts, or combined barbell and band hip thrusts. But since I have multiple goals that include trying to maximize my glute size in addition to maximizing my squat and deadlift strength, I have to make adjustments in my program design. I’ve found that a squat variation and deadlift variation followed by frog pumps (or frog thrusts, which you’ll learn about below) makes for an incredible glute workout. 

I used to use bodyweight back extensions for this purpose, then I moved on to band hip thrusts. But now I prefer frog pumps as they are so darn easy on the body. One of these days I need to measure the EMG activity during frog pumps in the glutes, adductors, erectors, quads, and hammies. I venture to guess that it produces one of the best glute activation : other muscle activation ratios in existence for hip extension exercises.

However, not everyone loves frog pumps and feels them heavily working their glutes. Some people prefer knee-banded feet elevated glute bridges, or bodyweight back extensions, or band hip thrusts, or double band hip thrusts, or single leg foot elevated glute bridges, or barbell hip thrusts with a band around the knees, or plain old high rep barbell hip thrusts or barbell glute bridges. But for me, frog pumps are unbelievable, especially considering they just utilize bodyweight. For an even more intense glute workout, stare directly into the soul of another individual while you frog pump, like this:

#nocaptionneeded #creamymanthighs #frogpumps #imwatchingyou #glutelab #lookdeepintomyeyes #yourepregnant

A video posted by Bret Contreras, PhD (@bretcontreras1) on

Sometimes, I want to go heavier with my frog pumps. I like doing them with a 100-lb dumbbell in my lap, like this:

Frog pumps 4 sets of 25 reps with 100 lbs. I love these. I like to end each workout with some high rep glute work. Sometimes it feels daunting to bust out barbell or band hip thrusts or back extensions (say after a heavy squat and deadlift session), but these don't require much effort. They never fail to give me a solid glute pump and my glutes are usually sore the following day after doing them. Yes they look ultra-creepy but they have their place. Not everyone feels frog pumps working their glutes well; they're hit or miss. Flatten out lumbar spine, tuck chin, place feet together and close to the buttocks, and pump out the reps. It's Saturday night so maybe some of you can get lucky and try these with a partner instead of the dumbbell 😆 #frogpumps #gluteburn #glutepump

A video posted by Bret Contreras, PhD (@bretcontreras1) on

But getting the dumbbell into position is annoying if you don’t have a helper. Recently, I was trying to think of how I could do them against band resistance, and I thought to myself, why not just put the shoulders up on the bench and use the Hip Thruster? I gave them a try, just using a light band for resistance. I did 4 sets of 20 reps and holy hell! Glutes on fire. Here’s what they look like.

To differentiate between frog pumps, I call these frog thrusts. Glute bridges are to hip thrusts as frog pumps are to frog thrusts (the former are done on the floor, the latter are done from a bench). Since I have a Hip Thruster, they’re so quick and easy to perform.

Now, before I go any further, I want to issue a formal apology and give some props to Jim “Smitty” Smith of Diesel Strength and Conditioning. Check out this video below. Smitty had thought these up 5 damn years ago, in 2011. Back then, he sent me the video and told me to give them a try, and I recall being intrigued and wanting to test them out. I remember being really busy, and I ended up not even giving them a chance. Shame on me. I could have been doing these 5 years ago! Smitty, you’re a true innovator. I should have paid better attention.

So give frog pumps, weighted frog pumps, and frog thrusts a whirl. See how you like them. If you’re like me, you’ll feel a ton of glute working without the company of the hams, quads, and adductors. If you’re not like me and you don’t feel the working incredibly well, then hopefully there is another low impact glute exercise that you find works well for you. Do heavy hip thrusts toward the beginning of your workout on some training days, and throw in frog thrusts at the end of your workout on heavy squat/deadlift training days.

9 Comments

  • Smitty says:

    I appreciate the shout out and respect, Bret! Thanks! Smitty

  • bakdc23 says:

    I have been doing your hip thrusts and their variations. Looking forward to checking this one out too. Question I have- I am a runner and want to become faster- so stronger glutes = faster running, right? How can I superset these glute exercises so it will help me become faster. After 3 months of deadlifts, squats, hip thrusts I feel bigger and slower (albeit stronger). Will I soon adapt? I do not necessarily want a big butt- I want to lean out.
    Great info you are putting out there- you are one blog I rarely miss!
    Thanks-Barb

  • lo says:

    so would you do frog thrusts weighted with a barbell like hip thrusts? or could that get weird with your knees?

  • Carl says:

    Hey bret,
    Have you ever tried a one legged frog pump or frog thrust. You can really push that one leg towards or even past midline and accentuate the angle of the leg relative to the torso in that way. I feel it greatly in my glutes perhaps more that the double legged frog pump or frog thrust. Just a random thought.
    Carlos

  • Cagney says:

    I am a physical therapist and general fan of exercise, especially bodyweight based movements. After reading this article I jumped on the floor to give the frog pump a try…and cramped up like a little baby. Great variation of a glute/hamstring exercise. I will definitely be including them in my workouts and with my patients. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mikayla says:

    Hey Bret,

    I have been incorporating these (bodyweight only frog pumps) into my training for the last three weeks, and I only feel a minor activation in my glutes but I can feel tension in my hips/ adductors. I watched your demo on how to correctly perform them, and I have been focusing SUPER hard on the contraction, but I still don’t feel a deep burn.

    Do you have any advice?

    Thank- you!!!

    Mikayla

  • Lotta Karlsson says:

    I got the frog thrust from my trainer last May, I love them. Harder to feel muscles in the frog pump position. I finish legday with frog thrusts or put them in supersets. Great glute exercise! Looking forward to seeing how it activates the muscles. Thank you for everything you do.

  • […] picked these up from the Glute Guy, Bret Contreras, as another drill to utilize in athletes having a hard time activating their glutes […]

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