SpotMeGirl’s Ultimate Guide to Hip Thrusts

Smash those glute goals with the number one exercise for booty gains

image of glute muscles of woman and female athlete performing hip thrust exercise

If there’s one exercise every woman should hit on the daily its hip thrusts. But for some reason, a lot of ladies who lift shy away from them. That’s why SpotMeGirl has put together this ultimate guide to the most posterior popping move out there.

You heard us right, girl. No matter how many squats, split lunges, kickbacks, or step-ups you do, you’re still missing out. Hip thrusts are hands down the most effective exercise there is for glute activation.

But it’s not just all about ass-thetics. In terms of athletic performance, this compound lift offers more than just looking good in shorts girls. Strong glutes lead to greater speed, strength, and power. If you’re wanting to transform into the MVP on your team look no further.

And while they might look strange ladies, just remember this – try not to make eye contact with anybody and you’re all good. Unless, of course, you’re pushing some serious weight then, by all means, intimidate the annoying gym bros.

The Chalk-Up: Article Preview

  • What are Hip Thrusts?
  • Rep the Science: How do they work?
  • Sweat the Technique: How to Hip Thrust
  • Hip Thrust Variations & Trainer Tips
  • Finisher: Summary Set

 

What are Hip Thrusts?

woman building glutes using hip thrust exercise

Originally invented by ‘The Glute Guy’ himself, Bret Contreras, hip thrusts have become one of the most popular butt building exercises today. It’s hard to argue with the science behind their effectiveness, and the results Bret’s seen in his clients says it all.

But, it’s not all party in the back and business in the front, girls. Hip thrusts are awesome for activating the hamstrings, quadriceps, and adductors too! Therefore, they’re pretty much essential for any lady who lifts with lower body goals.

Bret Contreras used hip thrusters as the primary exercise in ‘Strong Curves’, a book he co-wrote with Kellie Davis back in 2013. Plus, he even wrote a whole PhD thesis on glute development centered around his favorite hip-hinging exercise.

Okay, now we see why they call him ‘The Glute Guy’...

Ben Brune, one of Contreras’ colleagues, is a huge fan of giving hip thrusts to his celebrity clients. He’s actually the man responsible for Kate Upton’s butt, which we all agree raised the bar for booty goals worldwide.

Not only that but so many top bikini competitors like Ashley Kaltwasser, Amanda Latona, Michelle Lewin, and Courtney King include this glute-kicking compound in their competition prep. There’s no such thing as ‘just squatting’ for show-stopping booty, girl. Never mind what any genetically-gifted Instagram model says.

Key point: Hip thrusts are a compound exercise invented by S+C coach Bret Contreras. Women all over the world love them for their awesome glute activation levels.

 

Rep the Science: How do they work?

Graph showing muscle activation from back squat in comparison to hip thrust
Graph: bretcontreras.com

A hip thrust is essentially a glute bridge carried out with a load. However, rather than resting the shoulders on a yoga mat or the ground, they’re elevated onto a bench. And whilst it may seem strange at first, this set up is used to increase the range of motion.

To be more scientifically specific, the hip thrust is a bent-leg hip extension exercise. Essentially, your horizontally loaded hips go from closed to open position during a single repetition. Tension is never fully released from the hips throughout the entire exercise, and the highest levels of contraction are when the muscles are at their shortest.

Because tension is never fully released and ROM is optimized, hip thrusts are hypertrophy heaven. The glutes experience much more activation than in a regular floor bridge for example, and some would argue greater amounts than in the squat. No wonder they’re so popular among physique pros and celebrities in search of the perfect butt.

Plus, because the biggest squeeze happens when the muscles are at their shortest, strength and power can be built at short muscle lengths. So, whilst hip thrusts might not make you jump higher, you’ll explosively sprint faster for sure. Athletic ladies, take note.

Key point: Hip thrusts optimize tension and ROM for better hypertrophic results. Simply put, they’re perfect for building a bigger, toned, and fuller booty.

 

Sweat the Technique: How to Hip Thrust

Kate Upton hip thrust
Model Kate Upton hitting a hip thrust

Ready to give these booty-busting hip thrusters a go for yourself? Let’s do it, girl…

SpotMeGirl would recommend you start out without any resistance first. Nailing the bodyweight variation is the safest and easiest way to get the booty ball rolling.

Of course, you’re naturally going to feel the need to push some numbers. But be patient girls, the glutey-goodness will be yours in no time, just once you’ve got your technique on lock down.

 

What You’re Gonna Need

Setting yourself up to hip thrust is pretty easy. Every essential item can be found in most regularly stocked gym in the States, and a few accessories are relatively affordable online.

At the very minimum, you’re going to need a stable platform, some flat shoes, and a grippy floor. Also, unless you want some pretty questionable bruises, you’ll definitely want a foam barbell pad when you start adding weight. However, to make the most out of this exercise, throw in some kind of resistance to really challenge your lower-half.

For the variations we’re going to show you today grab:

  • A safe and secure padded bench or stack of aerobic steps
  • Olympic lifting style plates
  • A barbell (straight is preferred)
  • Padding for the bar, SMG recommends picking up a proper foam barbell protector, but a towel can be used as an alternative
  • Resistance bands
  • Chains
  • Non-slip floor
  • Flat shoes (alternatively bare feet)

Beg, borrowed, and stole your way around the gym? Sweet, it’s time for some action, girl. Here’s what you need to do…

Key point: If you can’t find Olympic lifting plates you can still use standard smaller sizes. Just simply place more plates or aerobic steps underneath to raise them until you can position yourself under the bar.

 

How to do it

woman showing basic set up for how to hip thrust
Female athlete showing standard barbell hip thruster set up

Basic Technique

  1. Start out sitting in front of the bench with bent knees. Feet should be flat on the floor at a medium to wide stance, with your shoulders resting on the platform.
  2. Take a deep breath in and raise your hips towards the ceiling. Ensure you push through your heels here. Keep the elbows pushed down and firmly into the bench whilst making a fist in each hand.
  3. Be careful not to slide up and onto the platform. In terms of neck alignment, imagine you’re tucking an egg underneath your chin. Concentrate on not dropping it to ensure awesome posture.
  4. Once you’re at the apex lock out the hips and squeeze those glutes. Contracting at the top in this way will increase metabolic-stress and work the muscle harder. Yup, it all goes towards a bigger, rounder butt.
  5. At this point, your shins should be straight and your knees tracking over the toes. If you notice your knees caving inwards, concentrate on keeping them pushed out in the proper position. Your ribs should also stay down here to avoid lumbar hyperextension – aka overarching the lower back.
  6. Return back to the starting position smoothly, in a controlled movement.

 

Hip Thrust Variations

Get creative, girl. Boost your next booty workout with these butt building variations.

Bodyweight Hip Thrusts

bodyweight hip thrust variation

Mastering the bodyweight hip thrust is an absolute must for beginners. By learning how to crush the technique without any resistance means you’re at a lower risk of injury. After all, being sat on the sidelines for sure isn’t the best booty building training method. Not for the kind of lean, strong, and toned ass we’re striving for anyway, are we right?

Barbell Hip Thrusts

female athlete performing barbell hip thrust

When we think of hip thrusts we no doubt conjure up images of this variation. Images pop into our mind of strong powerful women pushing heavy weight to the sky and we think ‘you’re damn right I’m doing that’. So, we know you’re down for these for sure. Grab a barbell and load it with the larger Olympic lifting style plates.

Ensure you have adequate protection on the bar to cover your hip-bones. If you don’t have a bar pad, a folded up foam matt can work, it’s just a little awkward. Then, roll the bar over your legs until it is tightly wedged in the fold of the hips. Keeping control with your hands, elevate that heavy mutha to the sky.

If your platform allows you to lower the load to the ground after every rep, do so. If not, stay elevated but dip back down low enough to effectively shorten the working muscles. Remember to keep your mind in the muscle and squeeze those glutes at the top of each rep to ensure they’re being challenged.

Band Resisted Hip Thrusts

banded hip thrust demonstrated by female athlete

Whilst a the banded variation might not be as common, it’s still worth a shot girl. In actual fact, many women prefer this as it can be less abrasive on the hips. All you need is a band, a set of heavy dumbbells, or even better, a squat rack to attach your band to.

Set the band up across the hips, just like it were a barbell. Then, all you have to do is weigh down the band at either side with the dumbbells. Then simply complete one rep with good form, using the band for resistance.

Ensure it’s properly secured to the ground though or you could have a few fellow gym goers on your case. Not that we’ve ever sent a band into orbit or anything… SMG have found the safest and most effective way is to set up your bench in the squat rack and secure the band under it.

Chain Resisted Hip Thrusts

hip-thrust-with-chains-shown-by-woman-athlete

Not quite feeling the roughness or a steel bar over your hips but find bands a bit too basic? Link yourself up with a heavy chain and use that instead. Just like working with a band, chains increase their rate of movement the further away you take them from the ground.

So, essentially you have to work harder the closer you get to the top of the movement. As more links lift from the ground the overall weight of the load increases. It’s a pretty cool training method used by athletes across the globe, and now you. Plus, it looks badass…

Key point: Form should be your number one priority girls. Keep all the reps smooth and focus on technique over weight.

 

Trainer Tips: 

  • Use a smooth, steady tempo throughout. Unless a trip to the emergency room is your idea of a good night out, leave the herky-jerky stuff for the dancefloor. 
  • The mind muscle connection is a wonderful thing scientifically proven to increase activation – it’s a guaranteed game changer, girl. 
  • Maintain tension during the eccentric phase of the lift – don’t just drop down and miss out on the most effective bit for gainz.
  • If you find you can’t lock out your hips then the load is too challenging. Regress, lower the numbers and hit it again in a smooth, controlled way.
  • Always use padding to protect the hips when using a barbell. We know you’re as tough as they come, girl, but we love you. Bruised up body parts really aren’t the best results from a hard workout.
  • Are your knees tracking inwards or do you want greater glute and abductor activation? Grab a mini-band and push against it with your thighs. Not only will this keep your knees from caving inwards but it’ll get those glutes working even harder. 
  • Record your lifts – it feels so good to look back and see how much stronger you’ve become over time. Positive reflection is some seriously empowering stuff.

Finisher: Summary Set

female athlete at top of hip thrust exercise

Hip thrusts are a compound movement first developed by S+C coach Bret Contreras. As far as glute activation is concerned, exercises don’t come much better than this baby.

Women worldwide are using them to build the best booty they’ve ever had. Everybody from IFBB bikini competitors to celebrities are including them in their workout, and the results speak for themselves.

Gym goers don’t need much fancy equipment to get started. All they need for the most basic of variations is a bench or padded platform. The rest is all about creativity and how hard you want to push yourself, girl.

Finally, if you’re going to hip thrust, stay safe out there. Ensure your platform is secure and sturdy enough not to fall over and can take the weight of your body plus resistance. Also, keep a barbell pad on handy to protect your hips from bumps and bruises. Don’t panic if you leave your foam at home though, roll up a gym towel and use that instead.

Good luck with all your glute goals, girls. We’re right behind you!

 

Remember, we’ve always got your back, girl. Check out these other articles created specifically for us ladies that lift: 

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