Performance of the Hip Thrust Exercise
By Courtenay Schurman, MS, CSCS
If you tend to spend an inordinate amount of time sitting at a desk or in the car, you may need to spend more time building strength in your glutes. The Hip Thrust exercise, similar to variations of the floor bridges, is a great glute-specific movement that will help you strengthen the gluteals, hamstrings, lower back and core muscles.
Benefits: The exercise allows you to increase your range of motion over traditional floor bridging exercises and also provides a safe “pocket” for loading with weight to increase the intensity, difficulty, and therefore benefits, for core strength.
Set-up: Start with a sturdy, stable, padded 17” bench behind you such that you can comfortably support your shoulders and upper back on the surface. When you are first trying the movement, test the bench height with both legs without any added weight at all. Lie cross-wise and begin with hips low to adjust feet properly. Do a test repetition, squeezing glutes to lift your hips high into tabletop position so thighs are parallel to the floor. Feet should be a little wider than hip distance apart so knees do not touch at the top.
Execution: Lower your hips as far down as you can, and then contract the hamstrings and buttocks to come back up to 5 degree hyperextension (slightly above "table top" position) to work the glutes through their entire range of motion. Squeeze the glutes together and pause slightly at the top of the movement. Repeat for desired number of repetitions.
Variations: Hold your hands out wide on your bench, or place them comfortably on your thighs (this is the most natural position and lends itself to cradling weight as you advance). Start with legs hip-distance apart. To challenge balance, bring knees and feet closer together; to target the glutes more strongly, position feet wider apart.
When you are comfortable using bodyweight resistance for 3 sets of 15 with 30-60 seconds rest between sets, perform with one ankle across the knee (be sure to walk the working foot in toward midline of the body) OR add weight by cradling a light barbell (EZ curl bars work well as they are naturally bent for a more comfortable position along the hip bones), dumbbell held in the crease of the hips, or a weight plate held at the navel.