One exercise has steadily gained recognition for its remarkable impact, particularly among women seeking to transform their physique and build strong glutes. Enter the barbell hip thrust, a dynamic lower-body exercise that targets a major muscle group often underestimated in its significance: the glutes.
Barbell hip thrusts are a staple in workouts for women of all fitness levels. Why? Because the benefits extend far beyond a toned derrière.
From building strength and enhancing athletic prowess to aiding in weight loss and boosting confidence, the benefits of hip thrusts are both tangible and empowering.
Hip thrust exercise
- Sit on the ground with your shoulder blades against a bench or elevated surface and a loaded barbell resting on your hips.
- Place your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Tuck your chin and then drive your hips up towards the ceiling, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
- Lower your hips back to the ground, keeping tension in your glutes throughout the movement.
Barbell hip thrust with a pulse: Adding a pulsing motion at the top of the hip thrust increases time under tension, enhancing muscle engagement and contraction.
Paused hip thrust: This variation involves pausing for a few seconds at the top of the movement, emphasizing the contraction of your glutes and maximizing muscle engagement.
Smith machine hip thrust: This variation involved loading weight plates on the Smith machine bar and using the weight bench for support during the exercise.
Barbell hip thrusts primarily target the glute muscles, specifically the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in your butt. This exercise is highly effective for activating and strengthening your glutes.
Additionally, it also engages other muscles in the lower body, including:
- Hamstrings: The muscles at the back of your thighs are also activated during barbell hip thrusts. They assist in hip extension and contribute to the overall stability of the exercise.
- Quadriceps: The muscles on the front of your thighs play a secondary role in the movement. They help to stabilize the knee joint during hip extension.
- Core muscles: While not the primary focus, barbell hip thrusts engage your core muscles to maintain stability and support your spine throughout the exercise.
Barbell hip thrust benefits
Barbell hip thrusts are like a secret weapon for making your bottom muscles, known as the glutes, strong and powerful. When you do this exercise, it focuses on your glutes and hamstrings.
Increased glute activation
Barbell hip thrusts are one of the most effective exercises for targeting the glutes. Studies have shown that they can significantly increase glute activation compared to other exercises like squats and deadlifts.
Builds strong glutes and posterior chain
You’ll build strength to your entire posterior chain, the muscles on the backside of your body, including your glutes, hamstrings and lower back muscles. Barbell hip thrusts engage and strengthen these muscles, promoting balanced development throughout your posterior chain.
Can handle heavy loads
Barbell hip thrusts can typically handle heavier loads than some other exercises due to using a barbell across your midline versus having to hold it and your grip strength or on your back for barbell squats.
Improves hip extension
Barbell hip thrusts can help improve hip extension, which is essential for sprinting, jumping and lifting. This action mimics real-life movements like standing up from a chair or climbing stairs. By practicing hip extension through barbell hip thrusts, you can enhance your ability to perform these daily activities more easily and efficiently.
Reduces lower back strain
Your glutes are like a cushion for your lower back. When they are strong, they support your spine and keep it in the right position. This can reduce lower back pain, which is a common problem for many people.
Imagine your body is like a tower. Strong glutes act like a solid foundation for that tower. They help you stand up straight and tall, which is great for your posture. You won’t slouch as much, and this can make you look and feel more confident.
Enhances athletic performance
Stronger glutes can give you that extra burst of speed and agility when you need to sprint, change direction or jump high for a rebound. They help you generate more force and explosive power, whether lifting weights or sprinting down the track.
Barbell hip thrust and other hip hinge exercises
Hip thrust exercises are great for strengthening the lower body and developing the glute muscles. However, there are a lot of similarities between the hip thrust exercise and hip hinge exercises, including the movement pattern and muscles activated:
Hip thrust exercises should be a part of your strength training to strengthen your glutes and lower body. If you do not have a barbell set up or you want to switch it up, one of these exercises is a good alternative for building powerful glutes.