The hip thrust has been increasing in popularity within the last decade. It is arguably the most effective movement to target the glutes. This article will demonstrate how to appropriately perform a hip thrust in addition to showing you many variations to improve the size and strength of your gluteal muscles. When looking at the literature we see how vital gluteal muscle function is in providing knee, pelvis, and trunk stability with the goal of [P]rehabbing your lower quarter. This article will show you how to master the hip thrust. Your glutes will love you after performing these exercises! Learn how to master the hip thrust exercise!


Master The Hip Thrust Exercise

The hip thrust is great for targeting the largest muscle of the body, the Gluteus Maximus. When looking at EMG activity of muscles during a hip thrust we see great activation of the hamstrings, quadriceps, and adductors as well; making this exercise a great bang for your buck movement! I have seen the hip thrust performed in all kinds of ways, below I show you how I like to perform the traditional hip thrust with the goal of biasing the posterior chain muscles. Shout out to Bret Contreras for popularizing the hip thrust!

Double Leg Hip Thrust With Cueing

Follow  the instructions below to master the hip thrust:

  • Use an elevated surface that should be roughly 16 inches high. The surface (bench is shown here) should be just beneath your shoulder blades.


  • Place your feet about hip-width apart, then drive into the floor with your heels to lift your hips off the floor.


  • Keep the Chin Tucked and Ribs Down as you thrust. It helps to keep your eyes fixated on something in front of you to avoid extending at your neck.


  • Shins should be vertical, knees shouldn’t move forward past your toes.


  • Extend the hips all the way, there should be a straight line from your knees -> hips -> shoulders. Think about tucking your tailbone underneath you at the end position. We see the highest EMG activity of the gluteals at zero degrees of hip extension, locking out is CRUCIAL here.


  • Control the motion back down and repeat!


Master The Hip Thrust And More With Our Program!

Hip Prehab Program hip thrust exercise the prehab guys

Do you feel that you need to work on your hip strength? Are your hips limiting you? If so, we have the perfect program for you! The Hip [P]Rehab Program is a physical therapist-developed, step-by-step program that teaches you how to optimize your hip health. Learn more HERE! 


If you want to further challenge yourself you can place a barbell, resistance band, dumbbell, sandbag, or chains on top of your pelvis for an additional load. If you use a barbell, make sure to give yourself a cushion or padding! I like to use a thick bar pad or an air-ex pad for this. You also have the option of placing your feet on an elevated surface to increase the range of motion that you go through.


hip impingement physical therapy master the hip thrust exercise the prehab guys


Double Leg Hip Thrust With Resistance Band

Adding a resistance band is a great way to improve gluteal activation. Remember the glutes are a tri-planar muscle group. The thrust focuses on hip extension, these muscles will also assist with hip abduction and external rotation. Placing the band just above the knees will help facilitate activation of the glutes in all three planes during the hip thrust!


Hip Thrust With Resistance Band

Sample Hip [P]rehab Program Exercise

  • HOW: Begin with your mid-back against a bench or elevated surface with your feet hip-width apart. Place a resistance band just above your knees. While keeping your chin tucked, thrust your hips towards the ceiling. Focus on driving into the floor with your heels and tuck your tailbone (AKA posteriorly tilt your pelvis).  Slowly return back to the starting position and repeat.


  • FEEL: You will feel the gluteal muscles working with this exercise.


  • COMPENSATION: Avoid arching with the lower back, allow a majority of this movement to come from the hip and pelvis. Avoid rolling on the outside of the foot as you spread the band, make sure the big toe is driving into the floor for the entirety of this exercise.


Hip Thrust 101


Staggered Stance

Using a split stance, b-stance, or staggered stance hip thrust is a great way to easily bias one leg.  The leg that is in more knee flexion or the heel that is closer to your butt will be the leg conducting the majority of the work during the movement. I often like this variation when I feel like someone is compensating or dominating the movement with one side. The foot that is further away from the body is working less. Compensatory strategies that lead to side-to-side strength differences can be completely unintentional but this is often seen in the clinic after musculoskeletal injuries or surgeries. Thus we always include staggered exercises in our [P]rehab programs to mitigate the chance of significant side-to-side differences.


Double Leg Ascend Single-Leg Descend

I love this variation of the hip thrust as I progress a client or patient from double-leg into single-leg hip thrusts. With Gluteal tendinopathies, I will load eccentrically which is when a variation like this may be appropriate. The key here is to make sure you lower yourself very slowly and controlled.


glutes bret contreras prehab guys hip thrust


Single-Leg Hip Thrust

My favorite variation! This is an exercise I perform as a burnout on my lower body days. What’s interesting to note is that we get the highest amount of EMG activity (muscle activity) of the Gluteus Maximus at zero degrees of hip extension, which is when you are locked out at the top of your hip thrust. For this reason, when performing this exercise I like to hold a strong gluteal squeeze at the top position for the last few repetitions on each side. Try this out, guaranteed you feel the burn!


 Barbell Variation

This article wouldn’t be complete without a barbell hip thrust!


Barbell Squat Vs. Barbell Hip  Thrust

master the hip thrust barbell squat

This study demonstrated that barbell hip thrusts appear to be superior to squats in terms of upper gluteus maximus, lower gluteus maximus, and biceps femoris activity. The barbell squat takes the knee through more range of motion which makes sense why a squat activates the vastus lateralis greater than the hip thrust.  If your goal is to target the posterior chain, gluteals, and hamstrings, then the thrust is a must!

It is important to note that although EMG and force production have shown to have a linear relationships, EMG does NOT directly measure force generation or output.


Beneficial For Sports?

We should train an athlete according to the sport-specific vectors of movement patterns they will be going through during their sporting activity. Horizontal power and acceleration through hip extension are important for many sprinting athletes that need horizontal displacement, particularly low driving acceleration sports. We see through this systematic review that sprint speed can increase by utilizing a barbell hip thrust.


Closing Thoughts

The hip thrust is a versatile movement that you can use to help build the strength and size of your glute and hamstring muscle groups. This article hopefully gave you the knowledge base to master the hip thrust. Take into consideration what equipment you have access to, what your goals are, and what is most comfortable for you when deciding which hip thrust variation is best for you. Comment below which hip thrust variation you like the most!


Master The Hip Thrust And More With Our Program!

Hip Prehab Program master the hip thrust exercise the prehab guys

To go from stepping to sitting we can thank the 27 muscles that cross the hip joint for their work. After thanking them, we should also thank your core, knees, feet, and really the rest of your movement system as they work together on a team to create movement. Perhaps, the best way to thank them is by giving them what they desire: strength and power!


About The Author

Arash Maghsoodi PT, DPT, CSCS

[P]rehab Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer

Arash Maghsoodi received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California. For his undergraduate studies, he attended San Diego State University and studied Kinesiology. After sustaining a career-ending ankle sprain while playing collegiate soccer, he realized how disabling and life-altering injuries can be. Arash currently resides in beautiful Santa Monica, California. His clinical experience is primarily in the orthopedic and sports setting. He has treated a wide variety of conditions ranging from the post-operative individual to the professional athlete. Arash is keeping the family legacy of becoming a physical therapist, as his mother is a practicing clinician of 30 years in the Orange County area.







Disclaimer – The content here is designed for information & education purposes only and is not intended for medical advice.

About the author : Sherif Elnaggar PT, DPT, OCS

One Comment

  1. Veda Naidoo August 13, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Awesome content, guys!

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