Hip thrusts stand out as an effective exercise for developing strength in the muscles of your posterior chain, including the glutes.
This article will guide you through integrating hip thrusts into your training programme, ensuring you reap maximum benefits while maintaining a balanced programme and prioritizing safety.
Assessing Your Current Level
Before incorporating hip thrusts into your routine, it’s important to assess where you’re currently at.
If you’re new to hip thrusts, start by mastering the hip hinge movement, which is the foundation of this exercise – one way to do this, is by performing glute bridges, which is a simpler and more accessible variation of the hip thrust.
Once the hip hinge movement pattern has been mastered, you could complete plenty of sets and reps at a light to moderate weight to provide plenty of opportunities to practice and refine your technique.
For a well-trained individual who consistently performs hip thrusts with sound technique, you could shift your focus to tailoring your sets, reps, load and intent to align with your specific training goals. This could involve opting for a heavier weight for strength, a moderate weight whilst moving fast for power, or trailing a different hip thrustl variation to achieve your desired training outcome.
Understanding your current level helps in choosing the right starting point for your training with kettlebell swings.
Balancing with Other Exercises
Hip thrusts should be part of a balanced workout programme if your focus is on general athletic development – while hip thrusts are effective for the posterior chain, they do not engage most upper body muscles or those on the anterior side of the body, such as the quads.
For a well-rounded programme to work your full body, it’s worth incorporating other exercises such as squats, press ups or pull-up variations into your programme. This approach ensures overall muscle development and reduces the risk of overloading one area.
Practical Example & Rationale:
We incorporate hip thrusts strategically within a strength and conditioning general athletic development programme where we aim to develop multiple physical qualities for athleticism.
To do this, we may programme hip thrusts aimed at developing strength in the posterior chain muscles and superset them with kettlebell swings or jumps to develop power in those same muscles. This approach takes advantage of the concept of post-activation potentiation (PAP), where the muscles and nervous system are primed by the strength exercise ready to generate power more effective during the explosive movement.
Elsewhere in the programme, we may programme a unilateral quad-based exercise to complement the bilateral hinge exercise, along with an upper body push/pull movement and an exercise focusing on core stability. This approach will ensure a well-rounded programme for athletes in the early stages of their general athletic development and reduce the risk of muscle imbalances. As their training age progresses, the programme would evolve to align more closely with the specific demands of their sport and their individual requirements.
Understanding Your Workout Schedule
Integrating hip thrusts into your workout schedule requires understanding the balance between exercise frequency and recovery. For most people, performing hip thrusts 2-3 times a week is sufficient. This frequency allows for adequate muscle recovery while still providing enough stimulus for strength and muscle growth. Adjust the frequency based on your overall training volume and intensity.
Progression and Variation
As you become more comfortable with hip thrusts, progressive overload will become important so that your body receives a continual stimulus to promote the training outcome you’re looking to develop.
- For those aiming to enhance muscular endurance, a lighter weight for 10-12 reps may be suitable. To progress, you could gradually increase the number of reps or sets. Instead, the single leg hip thrust may be an appropriate variation to target this outcome.
- For those focusing on power development, a moderate weight and moving fast for 5-6 reps can be used. Progression for this outcome involves maintaining the same weight or slightly increasing it while performing the movement with greater speed.
- For individuals who have progressively advanced their strength levels, opting for a heavier weight for 6-8 reps would be more suitable for targeting strength improvements. To continue progressing, you could continue to gradually increase the amount of weight you lift.
Please be aware that the weights mentioned here serve as illustrative examples. The appropriate weight for your use should be determined by your individual context, encompassing factors such as training history and goals. It is essential to recognize that the appropriate weight varies from person to person and it is performed with the correct technique.
Consistency will be important to reap the benefits from hip thrusts. Improvements can vary based on several factors, including the frequency, intensity, sets and reps of your workouts, as well as your recovery and training history.
But, general principles suggest that you will likely start to see results from hip thrusts after 8 to 12 weeks, with beginners experiencing early strength gains around the 8-week mark and more advanced individuals seeing progress by the 12th week. These early improvements in strength are often caused by neuromuscular adaptations (i.e. your body becomes more efficient) and are followed later by an increase in muscle size.
Incorporating hip thrusts into your workout programme can enhance your strength in the posterior chain. By assessing your current level, creating a balanced workout plan and focusing on progression, you can make the most of this power house exercise.
Remember, the key to success with hip thrusts, as with any exercise, is consistency and proper form.
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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.