Want to be faster? Have less back and knee pain? Rock a butt that would make Sir Mix-A-Lot proud? Try a Hip Thruster. What it lacks in social tact, it makes up for in benefits.
The “Glute Guy” Bret Contreras has made it his life’s work to study what it takes to have a better bum, and his conclusion is the Hip Thruster.
Will lunges, bridges, squats and deadlifts also help? Of course! But if you’re looking for the most efficient and effective exercise, ***ding*** ding*** ding***… Hip Thrusters.
Why are they so good?
- For speed? They’re more similar to a (horizontal) running pattern than the (vertical) pattern of a squat of deadlift. Even though you are facing the ceiling, if you flipped 90 degrees forward, you’d be pushing your hips in the right direction. You’ll also be able to use more weight than in a lunge.
- For less back and knee pain? The glutes (butts) are a major muscle group in our hips, and when they aren’t working properly other muscles jump in and “help”. Aka junk things up. Such as the low back. If need to move backwards or stop yourself from moving forward (aka everyone), you need your butt muscles to do their job. If they’re on vacation (or Glute Amnesia -Dr. Stuart McGill), your low back can perform that task… just not very well and with repercussions (like an anterior pelvic tilt, which I’ll go over in future articles, but here is a great video by Jeff Calavliere). Just like asking your QB to block a tackle RB, it can work… but inevitably it will be Bad News Bears. Same conclusion for the knees. Knees will try to step up to the job of the glutes, but that’s not what they are built for and you will feel it. I’ll go over knee pain more in a future article.
- For a better butt? They have a higher mean and peak EMG activation (so fancy) than most other tush targeting exercises. Want some science to back that up? Check out basically anything on Bret Contreras’ website, but here is a super study by him and bunch of other very intelligent guys: A Comparison of Gluteus Maximus, Biceps Femoris, and Vastus Lateralis Electromyographic Activity in the Back Squat and Barbell Hip Thrust Exercises – Contreras, Vigotsky, Schoenfeld, Beardsley, Cronin
Below are the starting and ending poses of a Hip Thruster. I’m using a Kettlebell so that you can see better what’s going on, but you can (an generally should) work up to using a barbell. When using a barbell, I recommend putting a pad on the bar or a mat/pad on your hips… unless you really enjoy unnecessary pain and discomfort. Also use bumper pads (those bigger, round, plastic weights), so that it’s easier to slide the bar on and off of your hips. When doing this exercise, make sure to keep your spine neutral (aka a straight line)… so your vision need to move up and up (try not to get dizzy). If this hurts your neck, tuck your chin back (like a double chin). Pick your toes up so that you don’t use your thighs. Then push your heels into the ground and squeeze your butt at the top (like you’re holding in a fart… wait, girls don’t fart… right). IF, you feel this in your low back, you’ve gone too far.
Too awkward for the masses? Try this Marching Hip Thruster version:
Still too weird? Or have no idea what I’m talking about? Message me with questions and comments.