The hip thrust stands out as a key compound lift in many athletic development strength and conditioning programmes, often as a method for increasing strength in the muscles of the posterior chain, especially the glutes.
Yet, there are a number of variations of the hip thrust that can be used to meet other training outcomes. These may include addressing muscular imbalances, biassing the glutes, enhancing power and serving as a tool for beginners to learn the hinge movement. In this article, we’ll explore variations of the hip thrust to meet these training outcomes.
Variations of Hip Thrust
- Single-Leg Hip Thrust
- Mini Band Barbell Hip Thrust
- Banded Barbell Hip Thrust
- Feet-Elevated Barbell Hip Thrust
- Weighted Glute Bridge
Single-Leg Hip Thrust: Best for Addressing Imbalances
The single-leg hip thrust is an exercise that features highly in our strength and conditioning programming – it mirrors the standard version but is executed with only one leg, placing a greater emphasis on single leg control and stability, whilst developing robustness in the working muscles.
It predominantly works the same muscles as the standard hip thrust – the gluteus maximus and biceps femoris – but with increased focus on each leg individually. This variation is particularly useful for identifying and correcting strength imbalances between legs. It’s also beneficial for athletes who engage in sports requiring strong unilateral lower body strength, such as running or soccer.
Mini Band Barbell Hip Thrust: Best for Glute Activation
Adding a resistance band around the knees during a barbell hip thrust increases lateral tension, effecticley engaging the gluteus medius and adductor muscles more than the standard version.
This variation is excellent for those looking to enhance lateral glute strength and improve knee stability. It’s particularly beneficial for athletes in sports requiring strong lateral movements, such as basketball or tennis. The added resistance of the band also provides a unique challenge to the gluteus maximus, making it a great variation for overall glute development.
Barbell Band Resisted Hip Thrust: Best for Hip Extension
The band resisted hip thrust incorporates a resistance band into the traditional hip thrust exercise. The band is strategically secured under the pegs on a rack or using dumbbells to ancor it firmly and then lopped around the top of your hips.
The band offers increasing resistance that gives you maximum tension when the glutes are maximally activated during full hip extension at the top of the movement. This prolonged tension is important for some athletes, specifically for those in sports like rowing, where power generation throught the entire drive, including at the end, is essential.
Feet-Elevated Barbell Hip Thrust: Best for Increased Range of Motion
By elevating the feet on a bench or platform, the feet-elevated barbell hip thrust increases the exercise’s range of motion. This variation places more emphasis on the hamstrings and lower glutes.
The increased range of motion challenges these muscles more intensely, particularly at the end range of hip extension. This variation is ideal for athletes who require strong hip extension through a larger range of motion, such as sprinters or high jumpers. It’s also beneficial for those looking to target the lower portion of their glutes more effectively.
Weighted Glute Bridge: Best for Beginners
The weighted glute bridge is a simpler and more accessible variation of the hip thrust, making it ideal for beginners.
Performed on the floor without the need for a bench, it reduces the complexity of the movement while still effectively targeting the gluteus maximus and hamstrings.
This variation is an excellent starting point for those new to hip thrust exercises or the hip hinge movement pattern, allowing them to build foundational strength and technique before progressing to more advanced variations.
Each of these variations offers unique benefits and can be incorporated into your training program based on your specific goals and needs. Whether you’re a beginner looking to build foundational strength or an advanced athlete seeking to address imbalances or increase range of motion, there’s a hip thrust variation that can meet your needs.
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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.