How To Do Hip Thrusts At Home

In the quest for building strong glutes, the hip thrust has emerged as a powerhouse exercise. But, what if you want to workout at home? Fear not – mastering the art of the hip thrust at home is simpler than you might think.

In this article, we’ll explore effective techniques and create alternatives to help you perform this powerhouse exercise within the comfort of your own home.

The Principles of Hip Thrusts

Hip thrusts are a compound exercise that is based on extension at the hips, effectively working the muscles in the posterior chain. Specifically, the main muscles worked by the hip thrust include:

  • Glutes 
  • Erector Spinae (lower back) 
  • Hamstrings (to a lesser extent)
  • Quads and Adductors (to a lesser extent)  
Labelled diagram of the muscles worked during hip thrusts

Hip Thrust Set Up

No matter where you perform the hip thrust or with what equipment, there are some common principles that can be followed to perform hip thrusts effectively: 

  • Position yourself seated on the ground with a box, bench, couch, chair or stair directly behind you. 
  • Learn against the surface, so that your shoulder blades rest on the edge of your surface.  
  • Bend your knees and plant your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. 
  • Place the bar or weight over your hips, you can use a cushion or pad under the weight to make it more comfortable on your hips.
  • Then, drive through your heals to lift your hips, squeezing your glutes at the top. 
  • Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees at the top position, you want full up extension at the top.
  • Lower your hips back to the starting position, while maintaining tension in your glutes and core throughout the descent to protect your lower back.

How To Do Hip Thrusts Without A Bench

If you don’t have a bench at home, you can explore otherways to perform the hip thrust or experiment with hip thrust variations. Let’s take a look at these below: 

Your Couch or Chair  

Utilize the study support of your couch or a stable chair to perform hip thrusts. Sit on the edge of the furniture with your upper back against it, plant your feet firmley on the floor, and drive your glutes and lift your hips upward. This makeshift bench offers the necessary back rest for an effective hip thrust. 

The Wall

Optimize the support of a wall by laying down close to it. Position your feet hip-width apart on the wall, pressing them firmley into it. Initiate the movement by driving through your glutes, lifting your hips towards the ceiling.

Maintain a straight line from your hip to shoulder and squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement. Lower your hips back to the ground and repeat, utilizing the wall as a reliable surface for a variation of the hip trust. 

The Floor 

Performing hip thrusts directly on the floor is another effective option – this is otherwise known as a glute bridge. 

Lie on your back, bent your knees and plant your feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips by driving through your heals, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. This variation ensures a direct engagement of your glutes without the need for an elevated surface. 

How to Load the Hip Thrust

In our strength and conditioning programming, the preferred tool for the standard hip thrust is typically a barbell, as it allows for the necessary loading to create the conditionings conducive to strength improvements. However, what if you don’t have a barbell? 

There are other options you can use to load the hip thrust, although these options may not create the ideal conditions to build strength. Instead, they are more likely to activate and condition the muscles involved in the hip thrust, if performed with the correct sets/reps/intent. These alternatives include:

  • Dumbbells 
  • Kettlebells
  • Resistance Bands 

But, What If You Have No Equipment? 

While many don’t have dumbbells or kettlebells readily available at home, there are still a number of effective approaches to achieve a stimulus to build robustness or condition the muscles used in the hip thrust, that dosn’t require any equipment. These strategies include: 

  • Increasing your repetitions, close to faliure.
  • Performing repetitions with a slow tempo, such as a 3 second descent and a 3 second ascent.
  • Opting for single leg hip thrusts or variations, rather than the traditional double leg. 

Common Mistakes When Performing The Hip Thrust

Whether your perform the hip thrust in the gym or at home, they are often subject to common errors. Recognizing and correcting these mistakes is crucial for maximizing the benefits of the exercise and minimizing the risk of injury.

Mistake: Arching the Lower Back

Correction: To correct over-arching of the lower back, focus on maintaining a neutral spine throughout the movement. A useful coaching cue is to “brace your core as if you’re about to be punched in the stomach.” This engages the abdominal muscles, supporting the spine and preventing excessive arching. Practicing pelvic tilts as a separate exercise can also help in understanding and controlling pelvic and spinal positioning.

Mistake: Not Fully Extending the Hips

Correction: Full hip extension is key to getting the most out of the hip thrust. A good cue to address this is “drive your hips upward until they’re in line with your knees and shoulders.” To practice this, try doing glute bridges before progressing to hip thrusts. Glute bridges involve a similar movement pattern and can help in developing a sense of full hip extension.

Mistake: Rising onto Toes

Correction: Lifting the heels and rising onto the toes shifts the focus away from the glutes. To correct this, the cue “keep your heels planted firmly on the ground” can be effective. Additionally, practicing the movement barefoot or in flat-soled shoes can enhance the connection with the ground and encourage proper heel drive.

Mistake: Neck Hyperextension

Correction: Hyperextending the neck can strain the cervical spine. To avoid this, use the cue “keep your chin tucked and gaze forward.” This helps in aligning the neck with the rest of the spine. Performing the exercise in front of a mirror can provide visual feedback and assist in maintaining proper neck alignment.

Mistake: Uneven Weight Distribution

Correction: Uneven weight distribution can lead to muscle imbalances and reduced effectiveness. The cue “distribute your weight evenly across both feet” can be helpful. Another approach is to start with single-leg hip thrusts to develop balanced strength and awareness in each leg before progressing to the standard barbell hip thrust.

Summary

The good news is that hip thrusts can be adapted to be performed wherever you are. But, whether you’re hip thrusting in your living room or at the gym, nailing the fundamentals is key to reap the benefits and avoiding injury! 

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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.