The exercise of the week this week is one of my favorites, the hip thrust!
Muscles worked and benefits: The main muscles that are targeted by hip thrusts are the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, hamstrings and quadriceps. Even though the hamstrings and quadriceps are worked during the hip thrust the exercise is mainly known as a glute, or butt, exercise. Hip thrusts were created and made popular by a strength coach named Bret Contreras, also known as “The Glute Guy,” who has a PhD in glutes. One of the reasons I love this exercise so much as a trainer is because they are relatively easy for clients to learn. Other exercises that target the same muscle groups may be difficult for clients who lack mobility where this isn’t as much of an issue with the hip thrust. They are also relatively safe to load, meaning you’re less likely to get injured going for a heavy hip thrust vs. a heavy squat or deadlift (I’m not saying heavy squats or deadlifts are dangerous, I just mean in comparison to hip thrusts). Whether you’re looking to grow your backside, build an all around stronger physique or just stay healthy, hip thrusts are a must have in your programming!
How To: To set up for a hip thrust you will need a stationary box, I always set mine up against a wall so I know it cannot move. The ideal height of the box will vary depending on an individual’s height and proportions. I am 5 feet tall and I personally like using a 14 inch box but it’s possible to use anything from 12-20 inches. You will start in a seated position, leaning against the box. You want to line the bottom of your shoulder blades up with the edge of the box. If you’re using a tall box you may need to shimmy your back up on the box to get into the correct position. From there you want to set your feet up so they’re about hip to shoulder width apart, your toes can point straight ahead or be turned out slightly to the side. You will drive your heels into the floor while simultaneously pushing your back into the box and scooping your hips up until they are fully extended. At the top of the position your knees should be at about 90 degrees, meaning they will be directly over your ankles. If you’re new to hip thrusts it may take a few reps to find the correct set up. You want to keep your chin tucked to your chest and your rib cage pulled under. Your eyes will look straight ahead at the top of the position. After fully extending your hips at the top, you will lower back down and repeat. If you are feeling the movement mainly in your hamstrings your legs may be too far out from the box. If you are feeling the movement mainly in your quads your legs may be too close to the box and you might be pushing through your toes rather than your heels.
Variations: There are many different variations of the hip thrust, below I have listed a few.
1. Barbell Hip Thrust
2. Dumbbell Hip Thrust
3. Banded Hip Thrust
4. Smith Machine Hip Thrust
5. Single leg Hip Thrust
Here is a video of a barbell hip thrust.
For more information on how to perform a hip thrust check out my instagram post here.