Want Strong, Shapely Glutes? Try Doing Barbell Hip Thrust

The barbell hip thrust exercise is a great option for increasing size and strength in the hip musculature, specifically the glutes. Like a squat or a deadlift, the hip thrust is a compound movement that targets a large number of muscles in the lower body. This particular exercise is ideal for building both strength and size due to the heavy loads typically used. As an example, see the video below.

Take a break from those other more popular leg exercises for a while. Add barbell hip thrust to change things up a bit. This exercise is great for breaking through plateaus for other leg exercises like a squat. Give those other compound leg exercises a break for a few weeks. Transition to a barbell hip thrust along with single-leg exercises for a period before coming back to the squat and deadlift.

Major Muscle Groups Targeted

Exercise Execution

Position the body on the bench so the back touches the bench just below the shoulder blades. Keep the feet flat on the floor with knees bent.

Olympic bar rests across the hip crease with both hands holding onto the bar.

Keep chin tucked and the ribs down.

Lift the hips off the ground performing hip extension. The key is to raise the hips high enough to get maximal hip extension.

The knees are at 90-degree angles and both body and thighs are parallel with the floor at the end (top) of the movement. Keep chin tucked.

Do not over-arch the back during the movement.

The Barbell Hip Thrust Exercise Performed by Jefit Elite Member

Image Credit: @don_fit on Instagram

Does Barbell Hip Thrust Offer More Muscle Activation than a Squat?

Some would say the barbell hip thrust offers a higher glute activation than a squat when looking solely at the involvement of the gluteus maximus. The best way to get more of an understanding is through EMG analysis. Let’s compare the two exercises through research. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine concluded “the mechanics of the BHT favors the greater activation of the extensor muscles of the hip compared to more conventional exercises.” A second study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning, in 2018, also suggested that the hip thrust movement may be optimal for training the gluteus maximus muscle group in comparison to the back squat and split squat. Finally, some additional information from Bret Contreras, PhD, a leading expert on the hip thrust movement, presented here.

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References

Neto, W.K., et al., Barbell Hip Thrust, Muscular Activation and Performance: A Systematic Review. J Sports Sci Med. 2019 Jun; 18(2): 198–206.
Published online 2019 Jun 1.

Williams, M., et al., Activation of the Gluteus Maximus During Performance of the Back Squat, Split Squat, and Barbell Hip Thrust and the Relationship With Maximal Sprinting. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2018. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002651

Top photo – Image credit: Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash