Sets and Reps for Barbell Hip Thrust

When it comes to optimizing your training with the barbell hip thrust, understanding how to structure sets and reps is crucial. This depends on your specific training goals, whether it’s building strength, power, hypertrophy or muscular endurance.

Drawing insights from general principles of strength and conditioning, we can tailor these parameters for the barbell hip thrust.

General Principles of Hip Thrust Sets and Reps

There are many factors that go into designing a strength and conditioning programme – the athlete’s sport, training history, testing results and time of the season often determines the training outcome. It is this training outcome that drives what sets and reps we select, along with the appropriate exercise and load. 

Now that we’ve established your training goal will determine your sets and reps, let’s look at general sets x reps guidelines for typical training outcomes, including muscular strength, endurance, hypertrophy and power: 

Hip Thrust Sets and Reps Table

Hip thrust sets and reps table
Sets x Reps assignment based on the training outcome (National Strength & Conditioning Association)

It’s important to recognise that these are general guidelines, keep in mind that:

  • It isn’t as black and white as the table makes out, training effects are blended across the sets/reps, but those guidelines emphasise that outcome.
  • Everyone’s body will respond and adapt differently.

Ok, let’s get more specific for each outcome related to the hip thrust! Below we’ll cover what hip thrust variation is best suited for each training outcome and therefore sets and reps. 

Hip Thrusts Sets x Reps for Building Strength

The standard barbell hip thrust is a great tool for facilitating strength development by enabling controlled eccentric lifting with heavier weights. This approach elicits the necessary adaptations for strength gains if completing 2-6 sets with 6 or less reps whilst lifting above 81% of your one repetition max if you’re aiming to develop maximal strength.

Given that this is heavy and hard work, make sure you have 3-5 minutes rest in between sets so that your body can adapt to the stimulus and you can keep the correct technique.

But, before you delve right into these sets and reps ranges, it’s crucial to have excellent technique and a good training base. Make sure you’ve mastered proper form and a good amount of training under your belt before you look to develop your maximal strength.

Hip Thrusts Sets x Reps for Increasing Power

To develop power, otherwise known as rate of force development, aim for 3-5 sets of 1-5 reps with 3-4 minutes rest between sets. This should be done with a moderate weight (approximately 30% of your one repetition max) and focus on explosive movement.

The standard hip thrust can be used for athletes aiming to enhance powerful hip extension – unlike strength training, we don’t need to keep increasing the amount we lift, this will actually be detrimental to an extent. Instead, there must be an emphasis on quality and speed of movement. If quality or speed drops, then you won’t be improving your power (or rate of force development). So, take plenty of rest and approach each rep with maximum effort. 

Hip Thrusts Sets x Reps for Muscular Endurance

To improve muscular endurance, aim for 2-3 sets of 12+ repetitions with a lighter kettlebell. The focus should be on maintaining a consistent pace and form throughout the set, such as a tempo of 3 seconds up and 3 seconds down. 

The single-leg hip thrust is a great variation of the hip thrust to develop muscular endurance, as it requires stability on one leg while performing the movement. This will activate the smaller stabilizing muscles around the glute and pelvis and also work on minimising imbalances between each leg. 

Hip Thrusts Sets x Reps for Beginners

I can hear you asking, but what if I’m new to hip thrusting? The best place to start is learning the hinge movement pattern, which is the foundation of the hip-thrust movement.

One way to learn the hip-hinge movement pattern is by performing the glute bridge. This is a simpler and more accessible variation of the hip thrust, allowing the athlete or individual to build foundational strength and technique before progressing to the more advanced hip thrust.

The glute bridge is performed on the floor without the need for a bench, it reduces the complexity of the movement, while still effectively targeting the glutes and hamstrings. It’s ideal to complete plenty of sets and reps (3 sets x 8 – 12 repetitions) at no or low to moderate weight to allow plenty of practice to get the correct technique. 

Coaching Cues

  • Strength: “Drive through your heels with maximum force.”
  • Power: “Explode upwards as quickly as possible.”
  • Hypertrophy: “Focus on controlled movement and muscle contraction.”
  • Muscular Endurance: “Maintain consistent pace and form throughout the set.”

Remember, these are general guidelines. It’s important to adjust based on individual response and adaptability. Always prioritize proper form and technique, especially when increasing load or intensity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should hip thrusts be high or low reps?

Hip thrusts can be performed with either high or low reps, it really depends on your training goals. If your goal is to develop muscular endurance or increase hypertrophy, opt to perform hip thrusts for higher rep ranges (6-12+ reps), whereas if your goal is to develop strength, hip thrusts should be performed with lower reps ranges (<6). 

Should hip thrusts be heavy or light?

The weight you use for hip thrusts depends on your training goals. If you aim to build strength, use heavier weights with lower rep ranges. On the other hand, if your goal is muscular endurance, lighter weights with higher rep ranges may be more appropriate. Regardless of the weight chosen, maintaining excellent technique is crucial for maximizing the effectiveness and safety of the exercise.

Is 3 sets enough for glutes?

The optimal number of sets for training the glutes can vary depending on factors such as your fitness level, specific goals, and the overall structure of your workout routine. In general, three sets can be a good starting point for many individuals. However, some people may benefit from higher or lower volume depending on their training experience and the intensity of each set.

If you’re a beginner or if you’re incorporating glute exercises into a full-body workout, three sets might be sufficient to stimulate muscle growth and strength. As you progress, you can experiment with increasing the number of sets or incorporating more challenging exercises.

Keep in mind that the key to glute training (and any muscle group) is not only the number of sets but also the quality of each set. Ensure that you are performing exercises with proper form, progressively increasing resistance, and allowing adequate rest for recovery. Adjust the volume based on your individual response to training and your specific fitness goals.

Summary

First things first, make sure you’ve got excellent technique. If you’re new to hip thrusting, complete plenty of repetitions to practice getting that excellent technique. Once you’ve done that and have a good training base, we can then think about adapting sets and reps to meet your training outcome. The general principles are:

  • Low reps and high load to build strength
  • Low reps and move fast to develop power
  • High reps to develop muscular endurance
  • Moderate to high reps to increase hypertrophy.

Certain hip thrust variations will be better suited than others to the sets and reps to meet your training outcome. Check out our article on hip thrust variations to learn more.

Happy training!

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Golf Insider UK | Website | + posts

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.