How To Do A Hip Thrust + 6 Hip Thrust Variations To Try

All our fitness and training resources are rigorously vetted by our expert team and adhere to our Exercise Advice Guidelines.

The hip thrust, also known as a hip thruster, is a compound hip extension exercise that mainly works the lower body, specifically targeting the glutes (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and glutes minimus) and the hamstrings. 

With certain variations of the hip thrust, other muscles will be activated as well, such as the adductors and core muscles.

This guide will examine the fundamentals of the hip thrust exercise, how to do it properly, its benefits, and six different variations you can try out in your next strength training sessions.

A person doing a hip thrust exercise in a gym.

How To Do A Basic Hip Thrust

You may be familiar with the glute bridge exercise, which is similar to a hip thrust in movement and muscles worked.

What differentiates a hip thrust from a basic glute bridge is the position of the upper body. With a basic glute bridge, your back is flat on the floor, whereas with a hip thrust, your upper body is elevated.

The position of a hip thrust uses a bench or plyometric box, where you will place your upper back. Performing the movement from this elevated position will increase hip flexion and make it a bit more of a challenge because you have a more extensive way to go than when performing a basic glute bridge

  1. Place the bench or plyometric box behind you. 
  2. Sit on the floor and place your upper back or the center of your shoulder blades against the bench. 
  3. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor or up on your heels, at hip-width apart. 
  4. Squeeze your glutes, engage your core, and lift your hips up toward the ceiling until your hips are fully extended. Make sure your neck is relaxed and does not strain with the movement. Let your gaze move naturally with the hip extension.
  5. Slowly lower your hips down to the starting position. 
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Benefits of A Hip Thrust

An elevated hip thrust.

The hip thrust is an excellent exercise for athletes and non-athletes alike. It will improve strength and range of motion for day-to-day activities and specific sports, such as running and any sport that requires power and speed. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits. 

Hip thrusts:

  • Increase strength in the glutes and hamstrings, which, in turn, aids in hip extension strength and power.
  • Improve stability and core strength, especially when performing single-leg variations. 

As you can see, there are plenty of benefits of adding hip thrusts into your strength training workouts!

6 Hip Thrust Variations 

The hip thrust is a versatile exercise that you can do with bodyweight only, such as in our basic hip thrust exercise instructions, or add weight such as a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell, or use other implements such as a medicine ball, resistance bands, or even a hip thrust machine at the gym.

Let’s jump into our variations to see how you can spice up your strength training workouts.

#1: Dumbbell Hip Thrust 

Adding resistance in the form of weight to our hip thrust makes it much more challenging. You can go as heavy as you’d like here, depending on your fitness goals and level. The most important point to make is that you need to ensure your technique is flawless.

Therefore, add enough weight that the exercise becomes challenging but not so much that you lose your perfect posture and technique. 

  1. Place the bench or plyometric box behind you. 
  2. Sit on the floor and place your upper back or the center of your shoulder blades against the bench.
  3. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands on your hips.
  4. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor or up on your heels, at hip-width apart. 
  5. Squeeze your glutes, engage your core, and lift your hips up toward the ceiling until your hips are fully extended. Make sure your neck is relaxed and does not strain with the movement. Let your gaze move naturally with the hip extension.
  6. Slowly lower your hips down to the starting position. 
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Note: If you have access to a gym or even more equipment at home, you can do this exercise by holding a barbell over your hips instead of dumbbells. This will add even more of a challenge as you will need to control and balance the barbell as you extend your hips.

#2: Frog Hip Thrust 

For this hip thrust variation, we will change the position of our feet, activating our glutes even more so. Instead of having our heels or feet flat on the floor, we will bring the soles of our feet together in a butterfly position.

  1. Place the bench or plyometric box behind you. 
  2. Sit on the floor and place your upper back or the center of your shoulder blades against the bench or plyometric box. 
  3. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet together in a butterfly position.
  4. Squeeze your glutes, engage your core, and lift your hips up toward the ceiling until your hips are fully extended. Make sure your neck is relaxed and does not strain with the movement. Let your gaze move naturally with the hip extension.
  5. Slowly lower your hips down to the starting position. 
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

#3: Banded Hip Thrust 

Now let’s add some other muscles into the equation.

For a banded hip thrust, we will also work our hip adductors. When adding resistance by means of a resistance band looped around our knees, we must constantly push our knees outward to keep our legs aligned in the correct position and stop our knees from collapsing inward. 

  1. Place the bench or plyometric box behind you. 
  2. Loop a mini resistance band just above your knees. (You can also loop the band just below your knees).
  3. Sit on the floor and place your upper back or the center of your shoulder blades against the bench or plyometric box. 
  4. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor or up on your heels, at hip-width apart. 
  5. Squeeze your glutes, engage your core, and lift your hips up toward the ceiling until your hips are fully extended, constantly maintaining your knees in line with your hips as you drive your knees against the resistance bands.
  6. Slowly lower your hips down to the starting position. 
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

For the following three hip thrust variations, we will add a lot of stability and core work in addition to working our glutes and hamstrings. 

#4: Stability Ball Hip Thrust

Instead of using a bench to prop yourself up on, you will use a stability ball, which isn’t stable at all, instead! You will need to engage your core and really work to perform this movement with good technique while keeping the stability ball from rolling away from you.

  1. Sit on the floor and place your upper back or the center of your shoulder blades on a stability ball.
  2. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor or up on your heels, at hip-width apart. 
  3. Squeeze your glutes, engage your core, and lift your hips up toward the ceiling until your hips are fully extended. Make sure your neck is relaxed and does not strain with the movement. Let your gaze move naturally with the hip extension.
  4. Slowly lower your hips down to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Note: Once you’ve mastered the technique, you can add weight or a resistance band to this variation as well.

#5: Single-Leg Hip Thrust 

This variation will work stability and recruit the core muscles. As it is a unilateral exercise, which means it works one side at a time, you will be working toward correcting muscle imbalances.

  1. Place the bench or plyometric box behind you. 
  2. Sit on the floor and place your upper back or the center of your shoulder blades against the bench. 
  3. Lift your left leg off the ground and extend it, so it is parallel to your right thigh.
  4. Engage your core and lift your hips up off the ground, aligning with your right knee. 
  5. Activate your glutes and keep your hips aligned.
  6. Lower your hips to the starting position. 
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps. 
  8. Repeat on the other side.

#6: Elevated Foot Hip Thrust 

Here we will use a bench to elevate not only our upper body but our feet as well. This will call on the hamstrings to work even more, giving us a more extensive range of motion for the exercise. 

  1. Place a bench both behind you and in front of you.
  2. Sit on the floor and place your upper back or the center of your shoulder blades against the bench behind you and your heels up on the bench in front of you.
  3. Squeeze your glutes, engage your core, and lift your hips up toward the ceiling until your hips are fully extended. 
  4. Slowly lower your hips down to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Note: If you only have one bench available, you can also do this by lifting your heels up on a bench and leaving your upper body flat on the floor.

A medicine ball hip thrust.

There you have it! Our basic hip thrust, along with six variations, you can add to your next trips to the gym. 

For more of our exercise guides, check out:

Squats, Explained in Detail + 6 Variations To Try

Planks, Explained in Detail + 6 Variations To Try

Lunges, Explained in Detail + 6 Variations To Try

Photo of author
Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community, she is known for her ear-to-ear smile, even under the toughest racing conditions. She is a UESCA-certified running coach and loves sharing her knowledge and experience to help people reach their goals and become the best runners they can be. Her biggest passion is to motivate others to hit the trails or road alongside her, have a blast, and run for fun!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.