If I were to ask you, “what leg exercise would you do to build power?”, I bet most of you would say squats. Well you are right, but one exercise that can also help you build strength and power is none other than the hip thrust. What drives me crazy is when these meatheads out there tell me that the hip thrust is a “chick” exercise. The hip thrust is not only an exercise for everyone, it is a literally a butt kicking exercise. The hip thrust is not only a glute strengthening exercise, it is also a hamstring kille. Guys and girls out there, if you have been told that you have a flat board butt and your significant other has told you that you need a bodacious hinny. You need to add this exercise to your program.
4 Benefits of a Hip Thrust
- Increase the size, strength and the ability to squeeze your glute aka “glute amnesia”.
- Help you improve your sprint off the block and sprint speed.
- Help develop your squat and deadlift strength.
- Can improve lower body mechanics.
What you will need
- Bench or platform
- Pad or towel (trust me you will need one)
When we talk about the set-up, this is the most important part.
- When you place the bar, you want to place the bar right on the pelvis line. If you do not know where that is, you are going to place the bar in the crease of the hips. This is where you are going to need your pad. Trust me the bar will hurt if you do not put a pad or big towel between you and the bar.
- You are going to put your elbows on the bench, and then you are going to lift yourself up into the starting position.
- Then you are going to lay on the side of the bench.
- Next, you are going to lay down on the side of the bench with the edge of the bench under your shoulder blades. If you lay on the bench with the edge of the bench on the middle of your shoulder blades, this can lead to pain in your lower back. I usually tell people that you can place yourself in any position that is comfortable under your shoulder blades.
- Your head a neck should be in a nice straight line, too many times I see people flexing their necks. Having your neck in a neutral position will help keep the rest of the spine in a straight sturdy line. Play around with it, if you are feeling it in your back, move yourself lower to your mid back.
- Once you have your position, then grab onto the bar. If you are having trouble setting up, you can get into the hip thrust position without the bar and then have someone carefully place the bar in position.
After we have figured out the comfortable position of our back and the bar (it may not feel comfortable the first couple times), it is time to situate our feet. You are going to place your feet shoulder width apart. This next part is very important. I call this the power position. The angle of the knee to the foot should be 90 degrees. Your shins should be as close to vertical as you can. Being in this position will give us a strong position to drive through our heals. During the exercise, you want to think about pushing through our heels and not through your toes. Pushing through your heels will activate your hamstrings and your glutes.
How to Perform the Hip Thrust
Now that we have gotten ourselves into the starting position, this is where the magic happens. Before we even move, take a deep breath, tighten your abs as hard as you can and keep your knees in a stable position. Next, you are going to slightly lower your hips about 6-8 inches down slowly. You should feel a nice stretch through the hamstrings and the glutes. This position is preparing your body to maximally fire up. When you get to that position, you are going to drive through your heels and lift your hips as fast as you can with your glutes and NOT THROUGH YOUR LOWER BACK. There should be no movement in your lower back. Your body should stay as rigid as possible, only your hips are moving. A good cue that I like to use for people is to think that you are going to throw the bar through the roof.
- Flexing your neck.
- Focusing too heavy of a weight and not getting the full range of motion.
- Going down way too far (when we go down too far, this can place unnecessary stress on our backs).
- Driving through your toes and not through the heels (a good indicator that you are pushing through your toes is you will most likely be feeling a sharp pain in your knees).
- Using your lower back (your will know when you are using your lower back, you will have a curved lower back or you will feel pain in your back).
If you have not done or added this exercise to your program, you are missing out. Too many times I see people getting into the habit of doing squats and deadlifts over and over. This program has many benefits but should be taken very seriously. Take your time, perfect practice makes perfect execution!
- Lewis CL, Sahrmann SA, and Moran DW. Effect of position and alteration in synergistic muscle force contribution on hip forces when performing hip strengthening exercises. Clin Biomech 24: 35–42, 2009.
Written by Chris Barber, CPT