Hip Thrust: The Most Important Exercise You’re Not Doing!

What is a hip thrust? The Hip Thrust is a glute exercise designed to improve your strength, speed and power by teaching optimal hip extension. What is “optimal hip extension,” and why should you care about it? It’s all about the power in your glutes, which are among the most powerful muscles in your body. The glutes are designed to extend the hip or pull the leg behind the body. If your glutes are underdeveloped, your speed, power and strength are all compromised. That means you’ll have weaker Squats and Deadlifts

A lot of exercises that improve leg strength, like Leg Presses or Squats, don’t maximise hip extension. When we rack up the Leg Press with a bunch of weight, or only Squat halfway down—which is as far as people go when their thighs are parallel to the ground—we aren’t fully engaging our glutes. It may look cool to lift all that weight, but your glutes aren’t doing all of the work they could be or should be.

starting position:

To perform the exercise, all you need is a low bench or box and a barbell. If you use lighter weights, it can be hard to place the bar on your pelvis due to the size of the smaller plates. When you start lifting heavier with the bigger plates, it becomes a lot easier to set up for the lift, because your legs can slide under the bar. The bar should go directly on your upper thigh, directly below your crotch. Be careful for obvious reasons! The pressure can greatly increase when you start lifting heavier weights. Using a pad or towel helps relieve the pressure. Once you have the bar in your lap, the next thing to do is get set up for your first repetition. I find it most comfortable to place the edge of the bench pad across the middle part of the back—right below the shoulder blades. Your feet should be directly under your knees, so when you fully extend into the lift, your knees make a 90-degree angle with the ground. Your neck should always remain neutral. Pretend you have an egg under your chin throughout the lift—if you squeeze too hard, you’ll break it, or if you lift up your chin, you’ll drop it. Place your hands on top of the bar once you have lifted it off the ground.


Once you have taken the necessary steps to set up the thrust properly, use correct form throughout the lift. It’s important to engage your glutes throughout the lift. I spend a few seconds visualising my brain sending messages to my glutes to help my body understand where I should be “feeling it.” It is common for some athletes to feel it in their quads, hamstrings and lower back. I suggest moving your feet around until you feel your glutes maximally engaged. Once you have completed the upward portion of the thrust, tuck your butt under the bar. This is referred to as a posterior tilt. The lift should be executed smoothly with the glutes lifting the majority of the weight. It’s not the end of the world if you feel it in your lower back—but that’s probably a sign that it’s weak. If you perform it properly, you should feel a nice strong pump in your glutes after the fourth or fifth set.

Charlie James

Hub Personal Trainer.