The Pros and Cons of Barbell Humping
The barbell hip thrust has become the go-to lift for people who want a strong, eye-catching butt. And they're on the right track. The hip thrust (back on bench) and the glute bridge (back on the floor) are both fantastic.
But many of these same folks have made a misstep. They're treating the hip thrust like a deadlift and getting too caught up in chasing 1 rep maxes. There's a place for that, sure, but they're training the exercise as if there's prize money for the guy or gal who can dry-hump the heaviest barbell possible for one rep.
The problem, besides low back issues, is that 1RMs don't do much for hypertrophy. And building your glutes is all about, well, BUILDING your glutes. That means you need time under tension and a pump, which you don't get from a single rep. Booty building is bodybuilding, not powerlifting.
Add a Dumbbell, Ditch the Bench, Start a Fire
Go ahead and go relatively heavy on your hip thrusts or glute bridges, but then do at least one lighter, high-rep finisher set. The best way to do this is with a dumbbell.
Place a heavy dumbbell over your naughty bits and shoot for around 30 reps. Brush your butt on the floor at the bottom of each rep, but don't rest it there. Hold the top of each rep for a 1-second count. When you hit failure at full range-of-motion reps, do partials at the top. Just pulse it out and (dare I say it?) feel the burn.
If you stand up and feel like your butt is twice as big as it used to be because of the pump, you did it right.
Preferably, use the back-on-the-floor glute bridge variation. Since you'll be going to failure and then using good ol' bodybuilding partial reps at the top, the bridge will feel safer and more stable.
As a bonus, most people will be able to go heavier on those high reps compared to the hip thrust. Most men, even pre-fatigued from their heavier sets, should be using a 100-plus pound dumbbell for the high-rep bridges.