Hip Thrusts on Floor vs Bench: Tailoring Your Glute Workout

Here’s what you need to know…

The main difference between the hip thrust on the floor vs hip thrust on the bench lies in the placement of the back, which alters the range of motion at the hip and therefore glute activation.

  • The hip thrust on the floor is performed lying on the ground with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then, the hips are lifted upwards. While this still effectively targets the glutes, it offers a more accessible and less intense option, especially for beginners. 
  • The hip thrust on the bench involves lifting the hips off the ground while the upper back is supported on a bench. This allows for a greater range of motion at the hip (deep hip extension), potentially leading to greater glute activation and strength gains.

This article explores the differences between performing hip thrusts on the floor versus on a bench, helping you decide which variation best fits you and your training goals.  

Understanding Hip Thrusts on Floor and Bench

The Hip Thrust on The Floor

The hip thrust on the floor, also known as a glute bridge, is an effective exercise for learning and reinforcing the hip-hinging movement pattern. It emphasizes driving through the hips while keeping the spine neutral. 

It is also an effective exercise in the warm-up to activate the glutes to prepare the body for more dynamic or intense movements, such as the hip thrusts on the bench. 

How to Perform Hip Thrusts on The Floor

  • Set Up: Begin by lying on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Ensure your feet are hip-width apart and close you your glutes.
  • Positioning: Press your upper back and shoulders into the floor to create a stable base of support. Your arms can rest comfortably by your sides. 
  • Starting Position: Engage your core muscles and drive through your heels to lift your hips off the ground. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees at the hop of the movement. 
  • Execution: Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, ensuring maximum contraction. Hold this position briefly before lowering your hips back down to the starting position in a controlled way. 
  • Repeat: Perform the desired number of repetitions, focusing on maintaining proper form and engaging the glute muscles throughout the exercise. 

The Hip Thrust on The Bench

The hip thrust is a key lift in many athletic development strength and conditioning training programmes. It is effective at building strength in the posterior chain, particularly the glutes – making it a go to exercise for athletes in sprinting and jumping disciplines, where strong glutes are essential for explosive power and performance.

Hip thrusts are relatively easy to learn and execute with proper form, making it an excellent choice for athletes relatively new to strength and conditioning to hit the ground running and confidently build strength. 

How to Perform Hip Thrust on The Bench

  • Set Up: Position yourself seated on the ground with a bench directly behind you. Have a loaded barbell over your legs. Use a hip thrust pad on the barbell for comfort.
  • Positioning: Lean against the bench so that it is across your upper back. The bench should be just below your shoulder blades. Bend your knees and plant your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
  • Starting Position: Roll the barbell over your hips. Your thighs should be perpendicular to your torso, and your shins perpendicular to the floor.
  • Execution: Drive through your heels to lift your hips, squeezing your glutes at the top. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Return: Lower your hips back to the starting position without resting the weight on the floor.

Hip Thrusts on Floor vs Bench: Key Differences and Similarities

Muscles Worked

Both the hip thrust on the floor and hip thrust on the bench primarily target the gluteus maximus, with some engagement of the hamstrings and erector spinae, quads, adductor and core muscles. 

The bench variation offers greater glute activation due to it’s larger range of motion and the potential to lift heavier weights more comfortably. 

Joints Worked and Ranges of Motion

The hip thrust on the floor and hip thrust on the bench both involve a hip-hinging movement pattern. However, the table below highlights how the bench variation allows for a greater range of motion at the hip joint, which can contribute to more effective glute activation and developement. 

JointHip Thrusts on FloorHip Thrusts on Bench
Hip JointModerate ROMHigh ROM
Knee JointModerate ROMModerate to High ROM
Ankle JointLow ROMLow to Moderate ROM

Safety

The correct form is essential in both variations of the hip thrust to prevent injuries. The bench variation requires careful attention to set up and execution around the trunk, especially when using heavy weights, to ensure the back is protected.

Progression

Beginners may start with floor hip thrusts to build foundational strength and familiarity with the movement before progressing to using it as a warm-up exercise and using the bench variation for increased intensity to develop maximal strength. 

Equipment

While floor hip thrusts can be performed with minimal equipment, bench hip thrusts require access to a gym and specific equipment, including a bench and weights.

Pros and Cons

Specific Scenarios for Each Exercise

  • Hip Thrusts on Floor: Excellent for home workouts, warm-ups, or when focusing on the hip-hinging technique.
  • Hip Thrusts on Bench: Ideal for targeting maximum glute hypertrophy and strength, especially in a gym setting where benches and additional weights are available. 

Conclusion

Choosing between hip thrusts on the floor and on a bench depends on your fitness level, goals, and available equipment.

Both variations offer valuable benefits for glute development, with the floor version providing a more accessible entry point and the bench variation offering increased intensity for more advanced strength and hypertrophy gains.

Incorporating both into your training program can provide a comprehensive approach to glute strengthening and development.

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Will is a sport scientist and golf professional who specialises in motor control and motor learning. Will lecturers part-time in motor control and biomechanics, runs Golf Insider UK and consults elite athletes who are interested in optimising their training and performance.