Hip thrusts are one of the best lower-body exercises for building strength, power, and muscle in your glutes and hamstrings. If you’ve got a hip thrust machine in your gym, start using it and elevate your lower body workouts to the next level.
What is the hip thrust machine?
If your gym has a hip thrust machine, you know it’s the kind of place that takes lower body training seriously. Hip thrust machines are one of the most popular but misunderstood pieces of strength training equipment in the gym, so be sure to use it properly to get the best gains out of this awesome bit of kit.
There are different styles of hip thrust machine, but they all have a pad to lean back against, and either a bar or a strap that goes across the front of your waist. This is connected to weights on either side so when you perform the hip thrust movement you are effectively lifting the weight up with your glutes, hips, and hamstrings.
Is the hip thrust machine effective?
Yes, hip thrusts done on a hip thrust machine are an amazing way to work the big muscles of the posterior chain. Hip thrusts are used by bodybuilders, powerlifters, and elite athletes in almost every sport. Hip thrusts will quickly help you build power and muscle in your lower body. Head to the hip thrust machine for bootie gains!
Muscles worked by hip thrusts
Hip thrusts mostly work the gluteus maximus (the main muscle in your bum) which is actually the biggest single muscle in your whole body. But that’s not all. Muscles worked by hip thrusts also include the hamstrings at the back of your legs, your adductors on the inside of your thighs, your core and even your quadriceps.
And because the hip thrust machine makes it easier to focus the movement in those target areas, you will really feel it in your glutes and hamstrings when you do hip thrust machine exercises.
The benefits of hip thrust machine
The hip thrust machine won’t just get you a bum that looks great in jeans. It’s an important exercise for strength, stability, power and even injury prevention.
Strengthen the hips and hamstrings
Hip thrusts build strength in the entire posterior chain, including the important muscles of the hips, glutes, and hamstrings.
Prevent lower back injury
Doing hip thrusts will strengthen your lower back which could help you avoid lower back soreness and injury.
Build explosive power
By working those big muscles of the hips and glutes, this exercise will make you more powerful for sprinting and jumping.
Stability in the hips and knees
Doing hip thrusts with good form will help stabilise your pelvis, hips, and knees to keep you injury-free.
How to do the hip thrust
Select the right weight for hip thrusts
Start at a light weight until you get used to the technique and movement, but remember to go heavy for your main sets of hip thrusts. You are working big muscles, there is no point doing very light hip thrusts.
Set yourself up in the hip thrust machine
Set up with your back against the pad, hips in line with the weights on either side, and barbell or strap across your hips (where the hip bones are).
Push into your feet
As you push up into the hip thrust movement, push down into your feet to lift your hips up so the front of your body is straight.
Keep your neck and spine straight
As you perform the hip thrust, keep your neck in line with your spine by moving your gaze (rather than looking at the same spot).
Squeeze at the top
Pause briefly at the top of the movement to squeeze the glutes, before lowering back down with control.
Hip thrust variations
If your gym doesn’t have a hip thrust machine, or you just want to add some different hip thrust exercises into your routine, here are some great hip thrust variations to build that bum.
Glute bridges use the same movement as a hip thrust but with no weight. This is a good way to learn the movement, or do add more volume to your glute workout at the end of your session.
Barbell hip thrust
If you can’t access a hip thrust machine, set up with a barbell and bench to recreate the movement. Set up a loaded barbell parallel to a bench, lean your back against the bench, and roll the barbell over your feet and up to your hips.
Banded hip thrust
Using a band keeps the tension in your glutes throughout the entire hip thrust movement. Choose a thick band, remember how strong your glutes and hips are. The thin bands won’t achieve much!
How much weight should you use for hip thrusts?
Good question. As we’ve said, you need to use a reasonable amount of weight to build muscle and strength in the glutes. If you choose a weight that’s too light, you will soon reach a plateau. Many people can hip thrust their own bodyweight or more, so you know this is an exercise you can go heavy on.
Start at a moderate weight and go heavier as you progress with hip thrusts. As soon as you are unable to perform the exercise with good technique, stop adding more weight.
Common hip thrust mistakes
Not going to full extension
Your glutes get most of the work at the very top of the hip thrust exercise, so it’s important to keep lifting until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line.
Not pressing into the feet
Make sure you press into your feet to initiate the movement of the hip thrust, this will help keep the tension on throughout the exercise.
Rushing the reps
Don’t rush hip thrusts, you will lose valuable gains. Most of the work in the hamstrings is done as the weight moves up and back down again, and the majority of the work in your glutes happens at the top of the rep.
Going too light
The big muscles of your glutes, hamstrings, quads and hips can handle a lot of weight, so make sure you challenge yourself with heavy hip thrusts.
How to use hip thrusts in your workout
You might be wondering if you should start or end your workout with hip thrusts. They are a compound exercise in the same way squats are, so put them towards the start of your workout. This is when you will have the most energy to do hip thrusts with good technique and enough intensity. Are hip thrusts better than squats? They’re different, and we think it’s a good idea to combine hip thrusts with other compound exercises like squats or leg extensions for a complete leg workout.
Hip thrusts are a great addition to your leg day and lower body workouts. Because you’re working big, strong muscles with the hip thrust machine, it’s OK to hip thrust twice a week. Just make sure you are taking enough time to recover from this heavy exercise.
Excited to add hip thrusts to your workout? Look for a gym that has a hip thrust machine and get lifting!