Best Glute Exercises That Aren’t The Squat: Hip Thrusters
Last week we went over one of the best glute developing exercises, the glute bridge. While the glute bridge is a fantastic exercise, and one that almost everyone should be doing, there is an exercise that’s sort of “the big brother” to the glute bridge.
It’s works your glutes and lower body through a larger range of motion, gets more glute max (the largest butt muscles) activation, and strength in this exercise has been directly attributed to greater sprinting speeds. What exercise am I talking about?
The Hip Thruster is essentially the same movement as the glute bridge, only with your shoulders elevated on a bench or box. By having the shoulders elevated, it increases the range of motion your hips go through during the movement – it also increases the demand on your core for stability during the exercise. Greater range of motion = greater demand on the muscles being worked, in this case it’s the glutes.
If you’ve been training the glute bridge and feel that you need a new challenge, or need to switch things up to force your body to change, then the hip thruster would be a fantastic option for you.
I’ll describe how to set it up …
1.) You’ll need a bench for this exercise, a stable one that doesn’t move.
2.) Sit along side the bench, so that your back is facing the side of the bench.
3.) With your knees bench, feet flat on the floor, rest your upper back on the edge of the bench.
4.) Dig your heels into the ground, and shimmy your back up the edge of the bench a bit, until your bum comes off the ground.
5.) The bench should be digging into your upper back now, your weight fully supported by your heels and your back pressing into the bench. The pressure of the bench should be directly under your shoulder blades (bra strap level for women).
6.) With the arms resting outstretched to either side on the bench, engage your core, squeeze your glutes, and press your heels through the ground, as you push the hips towards the ceiling. The weight should be kept through the heels, not through the balls of the feet, or the toes.This movement should feel almost identical to the glute bridge.
7.) Continue to press the hips up towards the ceiling until your hips are fully extended, and the body is flat from the knees to the top of the head. The only bend should come at the knees, bent at just a little more than 90 degrees.
8.) Slowly, begin to drop the hips and butt back down towards the ground, keeping activation of the core and glutes.
9.) Repeat another rep
Some issues people often face with the hip thruster are …
1.) Feeling the movement in the knees. If this is the case, just like the glute bridge, you need to walk your feet further away from your butt. This will take some playing with in order to find the right distance for you and your unique body.
2.) If your neck is feeling “strained” be sure to keep it neutral – don’t crush it your your chest or extend it all the way back – during the whole movement.
3.) Spinal movement. Your spine should remain motionless during this movement. It’s a hip based movement. Be sure to keep the core tight. The bottom of the movement will have you compressed and pressing into the edge of the bench, the top phase of the movement will have your torso laying flat along the top of the bench – if the core is kept tight and engaged. If you’re unsure, have a trainer at one of our locations consult you on the technique.
The Hip Thruster.
Now, once you’ve become familiar with the body weight version of the hip thruster (meaning you can easily perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps slowly) and you have no problems setting it up, or performing the movement – you’ll be ready to make it much more difficult. How can you do that? Simple …
1.) Try doing the hip thruster, but using only one leg. The single leg hip thruster is a great way to challenge your core and glutes at the same time without any added equipment
2.) Use a barbell or dumbbell across the hips/lap to add weight to the movement. It’s imperative that you’re using perfect technique before adding weight. If your technique is off it can lead to injuries.
Next week we’ll be looking at an exercise that will challenge the glute medius, and often over looked muscle that plays a big role in preventing and eliminating pain, as well as improving athletic performance.