Barbell Hip Thrust: A Complete Guide to Form, Benefits & Tips 

The barbell hip thrust is an incredible exercise that can be used to build incredible legs and glutes when done correctly. 

However, it also happens to be one of the easiest exercises to mess up, and you could potentially injure yourself if you do not know how to practise proper form. 

In this article, we will take a look at the barbell hip thrust by going over form, some of the most notable benefits of performing barbell hip thrusts, tips, as well as much more.  

How to Do the Hip Thrust 

Step 1 — Place Loaded Bar In Hip Crease 

The first step to the barbell hip thrust is to place a loaded barbell into your hip crease.  

This is much easier with someone else as they can pass you the bar once it is loaded, but it is also more than possible to do so yourself with a little time and effort.  

Just make sure that the barbell is placed in your hip crease, not on your stomach or upper legs.  

Step 2 — Stabilize Your Upper Back on the Bench 

Next, you need to stabilize your upper back on a bench behind you.  

You should get into a position that feels comfortable and gives you a solid base to push from.  

Make sure you do not position yourself too high or too low, as doing so can cause unnecessary pain and stress throughout the exercise.  

Step 3 — Press Through Your Heels and Lift Your Hips 

Once you are fully set up, it’s time to begin the exercise.  

Press through your heels and lift with your hips, making sure to squeeze your glutes the entire time.  

Once you get to the top position, pause for a brief second and then lower yourself back down in a controlled manner.

Hip Thrust Sets and Reps 

For the vast majority of people who just want to build leg size and strength, 4-5 sets of 8-12 reps will be ideal. 

This maximises hypertrophy without putting extra stress on your joints and tendons. 

However, if you are a powerlifter who is using barbell hip thrusts to increase your squat or deadlift, then you might want to do 2-5 sets of 1-5 reps to maximise strength.  

Common Hip Thrust Mistakes 

Incorrect Foot Placement 

Incorrect foot placement is incredibly common among new hip thrust practitioners.  

If you have your feet placed too far apart, you reduce the effectiveness of the movement.  

If you have them too close, you put your body in a vulnerable position. 

You need to find a position that is comfortable and somewhere in the middle of both extremes.  

Lazy Neck 

You need to keep your neck firm throughout the entire exercise. 

It can be all too easy to just relax your neck while performing hip thrusts – it may even make it feel much more comfortable. 

However, doing so will only lead to you developing neck problems later down the line.  

Incomplete Extension 

If you do not fully lock out at the top position, you will be hindering your progress. 

You should pick a weight that allows you to reach the top position with hip thrusts even later on in a set, and if you don’t, you will miss out the most important part of the entire exercise.  

Lowering Too Quickly 

In order to promote hypertrophy and strength, you need to make sure that you don’t lower too quickly when performing hip thrusts. 

You should lower yourself in a controlled manner, as this will increase the tension placed on your glutes, hamstrings, and abductors exponentially.  

Safety and Precautions 

Feet Too Close to the Butt 

If your feet are too close to your buttocks, you will put your entire lower body in a much more vulnerable position.  

This increases the strain on your joints and tendons, and it also makes it more likely for your legs to give way under high stress.  

Overly Extending the Lower Back 

One of the most common safety issues we see with the barbell hip thrust is overly extending the lower back. 

While you should push up so you feel a strong amount of resistance, you should not push so far up that it becomes uncomfortable. 

Overextending the lower back can lead to injury and lower back pain in the long run.  

Muscles Worked by the Hip Thrust 


The main muscle that is worked by the hip thrust is the glutes.  

The glutes (or the buttocks) are one of the biggest muscle groups in our bodies, making them play a significant role in overall size and strength.  


The hamstrings are a muscle group that are often forgotten about, but they play a huge role in overall lower body strength. 

The hamstring is the muscle that is on the back of your legs, opposite your quads. 


Another muscle that the barbell hip thrust works is the adductors. 

These are the muscles surrounding your hip and lower back, and they are notoriously neglected by most weightlifters and powerlifters.  

 These muscles help protect your lower back and have great crossover with other exercises like the squat and deadlift.  

Who Should Do the Hip Thrust 

Strength and Power Athletes 

The barbell hip thrust is an ideal exercise for strength and power athletes.  

This movement is great at developing size and strength in the glutes and surrounding muscles, and it is also relatively low impact which means the chances of you getting injured from this exercise are minimal. 

Functional Fitness Athletes 

If you are a functional fitness athlete, performing the barbell hip thrust is a must. 

On top of increasing overall lower body strength, this exercise provides a ton of functional benefits like improved explosiveness and protecting your lower back.  

General Population 

Barbell hip thrusts are also just good for the general population. 

From increasing bone density, reducing lower back pain, and lowering the chances of straining yourself, the barbell hip thrust can help you live a better, healthier life.  

Benefits of the Hip Thrust 

Generates More Power 

One of the main benefits to the barbell hip thrust is that it can allow you to develop more power and explosiveness.  

Having a powerful lower body has a ton of crossover into everyday life as well as other sports/exercises, and the barbell hip thrust is one of the best tools for developing said power.  

Offers Safer Squat Alternative 

Another benefit to hip thrusts is that they are a much safer alternative to squats. 

The barbell hip thrust from floor takes place where you would expect, on the floor. 

This means there is much less room for injury as there is a much shorter distance to fall if something were to go amiss. 

On top of this, the barbell hip thrust uses much less weight than the squat and puts much less stress on the tendons whilst still developing the same muscles.  

Glute Hypertrophy, Strength, and Power 

If you want to grow your glutes, the barbell hip thrust is going to be your best friend. 

This exercise builds overall glute size, strength, and power, and it also does a better job of isolating the glutes than most other lower body exercises.  

Easy to Scale 

Another benefit of hip thrusts is that they are easy to scale.  

There are a ton of different hip thrust variations/alternatives, so you can easily switch things up if you grow bored of regular hip thrusts. 

They are also pretty easy to add reps/weight because they target one of the biggest muscle groups in the body.

Great for Warming Up 

If nothing else, barbell hip thrusts can be a fantastic warmup for other lower-body exercises. 

This exercise allows you to hit a ton of lower body muscles without putting too much stress on your joints and tendons, making it an ideal exercise to do before other compound exercises like the squat or deadlift.  

Barbell Hip Thrust Variations 

Dumbbell Hip Thrust 

Similar to the barbell hip thrust, the dumbbell hip thrust involves placing a dumbbell or two on your hips while performing the hip thrust movement. 

 This alternative can be useful if you don’t have access to a barbell or if you want to target your glutes with a lighter weight. 

Alternative Exercises for Barbell Hip Thrust 

Glute Bridge 

If you are looking for a barbell hip thrust replacement, the glute bridge fits the bill perfectly.  

The glute bridge is an isometric hold that is incredibly similar to the barbell hip thrust, but instead of doing reps and sets, the glute bridge is an isometric hold where you stay in the top position of the movement for a set period of time.  

The glute bridge is perhaps the best alternative to barbell hip thrust as it works the same muscle groups, and it can also be a great exercise to do after barbell hip thrusts to get that extra bit of hypotrophy.  

Barbell Glute Bridge 

Another great barbell hip thrust substitute is the barbell glute bridge.  

This is the same as a regular glute bridge but with a barbell. 

Single-Leg Glute Bridge 

This variation of the glute bridge involves performing the movement with only one leg at a time. This can help to address any strength imbalances between the two sides of your body. 

Good Morning 

The good morning is a compound exercise that targets the hamstrings, lower back, and glutes. It involves holding a barbell on your shoulders and bending forward at the hips while keeping your back straight.  

This exercise can be a good option for those who want to target their glutes while also working other muscle groups. 

Romanian Deadlift 

The Romanian deadlift is another compound exercise that targets the hamstrings, lower back, and glutes.  

It involves holding a barbell or dumbbells in front of your thighs and hinging forward at the hips while keeping your back straight. 

Banded Hip Thrust 

This variation of the hip thrust involves placing a resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees.  

The band adds extra resistance to the movement and can help to activate the glutes even more.  

This exercise can be a good option for those who want to make the hip thrust more challenging without using heavier weights. 

Barbell Hip Thrust – FAQs 

How Much Weight Should You Use for Hip Thrusts?

You Should pick a weight that allows you to do 8-12 reps with good form with hip thrusts. 

As you get stronger, increase this weight so you stay in the same rep range.

How Can You Progress Hip Thrusts Without Adding More Weight? 

You can progress hip thrusts without adding more weight by using more difficult variations or changing the exercise by adding pauses or increasing the number of reps. 

Are Hip Thrusts Good for People Who Have Lower Back Pain? 

Yes, hip thrusts are good for people who have lower back pain when done with proper form. 

Hip thrusts can help develop lower back strength and reduce pain in the long run. 

However, if you feel like your lower back pain is getting worse from barbell hip thrusts and you already practise good form, it might be best to find an alternative.  

What Is a Hip Thrust Machine? 

A hip thrust machine is an adjustable piece of equipment that lets you do hip thrust without a barbell.  

What Are The Barbell Hip Thrust Benefits?  

The most notable barbell hip thrust benefits are increased hamstring and glute size/strength. 

They can also benefit overall health by increasing heart rate.  

Do I Need a Barbell Cushion for Hip Thrusts? 

No, you do not need a barbell cushion for hip thrusts. 

However, a barbell cushion may be helpful if you experience pain during barbell hip thrusts or use heavy weight.

What Are The Barbell Hip Thrust Muscles Worked?  

The barbell hip thrust muscles worked are the hamstrings, glutes, and abductors.  

We hope this article will be of some help.  

This hip thrust exercise with barbell can be an incredible tool to build your legs and glutes, and it also has a lot of crossover to a ton of different exercises too! 

As long as you practice good form and focus on performing this exercise correctly, you can’t go wrong. 

If you would like more advice revolving around fitness, don’t hesitate to check out all of the other articles we have at MovingForwards

From giving a full overview of the barbell hip thrust to teaching you how to lose weight or gain muscle in an effective manner, we have everything you need for you to transform your body and health. 

See you next time.  

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