Hip Thrust: How to Build Strong Glutes… Without the Pain
By: Nazirah M. Jones M.S., CPT-NASM
Have you ever heard someone say, “I wish I had smaller, weaker glutes?” If you have, stay far away from them! Other than looking great in your favorite pair of jeans, there are a lot of practical benefits of having solid glutes that don’t result in pain.
The glutes are the largest muscle group in the body, and they play a crucial role in many everyday movements, such as walking, running, jumping, and squatting. However, many people have weak and underdeveloped glutes due to a sedentary lifestyle or improper training techniques.
If you can operate your glutes properly in the gym, your lower back will thank you. Today we live in a world where lower back injuries are at an all-time high. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, up to 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Performing a movement such as hip thrust not only develops strong and amazing glutes but also saves your low back, which is why here at BBT Fitness, we incorporate this movement into our programs.
The hip thrust is a movement that loads the hips instead of the spine. Unlike traditional exercises such as the back squat and deadlift, which put a lot of stress on the lower back, the hip thrust targets the glutes and hamstrings while minimizing stress on the spine. This makes it a great exercise for people with low back pain or those looking to prevent it.
In addition to being low-risk, the hip thrust is also a highly effective exercise for building strong glutes. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that the hip thrust produced significantly greater glute activation compared to the back squat and deadlift. Another study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy found that the hip thrust was superior to the traditional exercises for improving sprint performance.
Here are a few takeaways when performing the hip thrust movement:
Ensure that the bench is secured firmly in the position you want.
Place your heels directly underneath your knees, creating a 90-degree angle.
Place the barbell across your hips or roll it so that it’s lying in your hip crease.
As you thrust, keep your lower back from arching. To do this, keep your core tight.
Squeeze your glutes at the top as you reach for full hip extension and hold the position for a second.
For best practice, start slow with a lightweight and focus on activating your glutes. As you get better, you will learn how to feel your glute activate for a better mind-muscle connection. From there, start loading up that barbell and thrust your life away!
In summary, the hip thrust is a low-risk, high-reward exercise for building strong and functional glutes while minimizing stress on the spine. By incorporating this movement into your training program, you can improve your athletic performance, prevent low back pain, and achieve the strong, powerful glutes you've always wanted.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Low Back Pain Fact Sheet. Accessed March 19, 2023. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet
Contreras B, Vigotsky AD, Schoenfeld BJ, et al. Greater electromyography responses do not imply greater motor unit recruitment and "hypertrophic potential" cannot be inferred. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2017;31(3):e1-e4.