Along with squats and deadlifts, hip thrusts are on the Mount Rushmore of butt-building movements. They're pretty much guaranteed to grow your glutes as long as you're doing them right.
Along with the aesthetic benefits, the hip thrust has an enormous carryover to your overall health, performance, and strength in other big lifts.
Here are two ways to get even more out of them:
1. Add Band Resistance
Bands are one of the most effective ways to create tension and increase the amount of resistance. In this variation, the band increases the amount of tension you get as you raise your hips.
2. Use a Staggered Stance
Just place one foot slightly in front of the other. Here's what it'll do:
- It places more tension in rear leg.
- It can correct imbalances.
- It creates more core engagement.
- It reduces arching/extension in the lower back, which creates more tension in the glutes.
As with any exercise, suboptimal technique will lead to suboptimal results. Here are some of the most common mistakes:
Mistake 1: Rib Flare
Rib flare (protrusion of the ribs) during the upward motion of the hip thrust typically results in hyperextension of the lower back. By letting your ribs stick out, you experience stress in the low back as opposed to feeling tension in the glutes.
To fix this, keep your ribs down as you raise your hips. Imagine you're bracing yourself to get punched in the stomach at the top of the hip thrust. This alone will make a huge difference in the amount of tension you experience in the glutes.
Mistake 2: Forward Knees
It's a common myth that your knees can't poke forward past your toes while squatting or deadlifting. But, if you're looking to optimize glute engagement during hip thrusts, the vertical shin rule applies. A common mistake is to position the feet too close to your body when setting up, causing your knees to push forward excessively.
To fix this, get your shin angle perpendicular to the floor with your knees stacked directly above your ankles. This simple tweak allows you to push through the floor with your heels, causing greater tension in your glutes throughout the entire range of motion... otherwise you'll be pushing more with your quads.
Mistake 3: Neck Cranking
Make sure you're not cranking your neck back and forth when doing hip thrusts. It's much easier to keep your ribs down and your core engaged with optimal head positioning. Extending your neck results in a chain of effects throughout your torso, causing rib flare and hyperextension in the lower back.
To fix this, pick a spot straight ahead and look at it throughout the entire range of motion. This simple tweak keeps your chin tucked and your head in a neutral position with your upper back, making it easier to maintain an active core and "down" ribs.