How to do Hip Thrusts The Right Way

If you’re after a booty isolation exercise, look no further. Learning how to do hip thrusts is just about the closest you’re gonna get.

Mastering the hip thrust is a fast track to lifting, firming and strengthening your butt. It puts the weight through every section of your glutes and strengthens your hamstrings too.

The hip thrust is one of those absolutely game changing movements that can help to build incredible strength and size in your glute muscles. By including some hip thrusts workouts and brushing up on all the best variations on this exercise, you can guarantee an amazing booty burn, whether you’re in the gym or working out from home.

But this is about more than those coveted booty gains. Having powerful glutes is a must for a next level squat, strong deadlift and even sprinting.

Read our complete guide on hip thrusts workouts and you’ll find out more about how to do perform the movement safely, and with the best results. You’ll also find out more about the variations you can use to maximize the effectiveness of this amazing movement. Check it out! 

What are hip thrusts?

Woman performing a hip thrust

The brainchild of the world’s favourite ‘Glute Guy’, Brett Contreras, the hip thrust was invented to develop strength and power in the butt.

The movement was so successful in creating a firm, rounded butt that Contreras even wrote a thesis centred around the success in developing glutes with this hip-hinging exercise. Aka, hip thrusts workouts are literally worth writing home about!

Hip thrust workouts have gained a huge amount of popularity as they’re one of the only ways to isolate that hinging hip movement that requires serious power from your butt. Basically, it puts the magnifying glass right on the glutes – Just what you want if you’re trying to build size.

Not only is it a great way to strengthen up your butt, it also works your quads, hamstrings and adductors too.

If we get into the science, a hip thrust is like a glute bridge with load, however rather than resting your upper body on the ground, you’ll be resting it on a bench.

This point is essential as it allows your hips to go through an open and closed position, without the tension ever really leaving your muscles. That means a whole lot of hypertrophy for your butt. Hypertrophy = strength and size. 

Basically, if you want to build muscle in your booty, whether that’s for strength or for the perfect peach, you need really need to learn how to do hip thrusts! Trust us, it’s an absolute game changer. 

Want to perfect your squat? Read our step-by-step guide. 

What equipment do I need to learn how to do hip thrusts?

There’s a few things you’ll need to perform a hip thrust. Pick up these items and you’ll be ready to start your journey to incredible booty gains.

  • Bench
  • Barbell
  • Barbell pad or folded towel/gym mat
  • Small resistance band (for when you want to turn up the heat)

Find the best 7 Hip Thrust Pads in our extensive review. 

That’s everything you need for your standard barbell hip thrust. However, you can also perform a fantastic hip thrust workout with dumbbells, just a bar alone or even using a Smith Machine if your gym has one! It’s always good to know how to do these different hip thrust exercises, as you never know when a piece of kit might be in use, or if you want to do them at home rather than visit the gym.

Keep reading to discover all the best variations on hip thrust exercises below.

Looking for a full legs day? Check out our legs workout for women. 

How to do hip thrusts

Kate upton performing a hip thrust
Even Kate Upton loves hip thrusts!

The key to perfecting the hip thrust is to get the form perfect. As always, if you don’t have perfect form, you can end up with an injury, especially as you start to up the weight on this movement. 

That’s why, to start with, it’s best to begin without load. That way you can nail down the form and protect yourself from injury before you start adding weight to the movement.

Here’s our step-by-step on how to do hip thrusts:

1. Sit along the side of the bench with your back to it

2. Place your feet flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart

3. Pushing through your heels and using your glutes to power upwards, raise your hips until your body is flat. Try not to slide onto the bench too far, keeping your shoulders on the edge

4. Don’t overextend at this point, stop at the point your body is flat to maintain tension through your glutes

5. Throughout the movement, keep your chin tucked down to your chest like you’re holding an egg there. Keep your torso straight and your ribs down, without dipping your hips or overextending your lower back. Imagine your body is like a hinge, only the joint moves

6. At the top of the movement, squeeze your hips to increase muscle contraction and increase your gains

7. Ensure your knees don’t fall inwards at this point

8. Slowly lower your hips and return to the start position

[Related Article: Hip Abduction Machine – Do You Need One?]

Hip thrusts with bar

woman doing a hip thrust

Once you have the bodyweight hip thrust mastered, you need to up the ante on the movement. By increasing the load running through your booty muscles by doing hip thrusts with bar, you’ll be challenging them even more, which will increase both strength and size gains in a big way. It’s also something you can continue to build over time, so your booty gains have no limits!

Now, if you’ve ever seen someone doing hip thrusts with a bar, you’ll know that the bar itself sits over your hip crease. Without a little extra padding, that can be pretty uncomfortable.

So, top tip: use a barbell pad or, if you don’t have one, grab one of those thin yoga mats and fold that over around the bar. It can be pretty bulky if you use the mat, but it still works!

Sit down on the ground with your back to the bench and roll the bar over your legs until it sits over the crease of your hips. Give that pad/rolled up mat a test to make sure it’s comfortably protecting your hips and you’re good to go! 

Then perform the hip thrust with barbell by lifting the bar with your hips, holding onto it on both sides so it stays balanced. Once the bar is off the floor and you feel comfortable, start the movement as you would when you practiced without weight! 

Hip thrusts with band

Over here at gymgirlfit, we’re huge fans of the humble resistance band. And, by introducing a the hip thrust with band into your butt workout repertoire, you can challenge your muscle even further.

The resistance band sits just above the knees and pulls your legs inward, forcing you to push outward to maintain that fantastic form we’ve already established. By doing this, you’re increasing the strain on the muscles on the outside of your hips, building size and strength for that coveted rounded look. 

You can add the resistance band to your weight hip thrusts, or you can go for the simpler hip thrusts with bands, which is still a fantastic way to work those glutes. What’s more, the resistance band is easy to throw in your gym bag, or pull out for a fantastic home workout. Basically, you’re guaranteed an amazing hip thrusts workout if you have a top quality resistance band to hand.

You can even buy our favourite resistance band (which came top in our most recent review!) on Amazon. Click here to find out more. 

Hip thrusts with dumbbells

If you don’t have a barbell to hand, but still want to perform hip thrusts with weight, then bring out those dumbbells! This handy piece of kit is a mainstay of every gym, even the smaller ones, and can often be found in home gyms too, making this a fantastic variation for a killer hip thrust workout.

Similar to the hip thrust with bar, the weight here will sit across the hip crease, ensuring the weight is focussed over the glutes.

Top tip for hip thrusts with dumbbells – If you’re working out from home or your gym doesn’t have a barbell, it might be hard to up the weights with just dumbbells at your disposal. So, to keep that intensity high, we’d recommend upping the rep count compared to what you’d normally do with the barbell. This will help to ensure you feel the burn, even with a lighter hip thrust weight.

Hip thrusts with the Smith Machine

If your gym has a smith machine, you’re in for a booty burning treat! Hip thrusts with a smith machine are another great variation on the movement, so you can guarantee a great lower body workout.

These are especially great if you aren’t super confident with using a barbell, as the bar on a smith machine only moves up and down which provides greater stability for anyone out there who’s knew to hip thrusts with bars.

The final rep – gymgirl hints and tips

Add some hip thrust workouts to your legs day and you’ll see some incredible strength and booty gains in no time. Don’t forget, you can add a resistance band to any of these weighted movements, which is the ideal way tp increase the focus on those outer stabilising muscles, and increase the shape of your butt!

If you’re looking for a bigger booty, aim for four sets of 10-15 reps.  If it’s strength you’re after,  five sets of five reps at a heavy weight will be perfect.

With this in your repertoire you’ll soon be on your way to your dream booty. This movement really is that good. Perfect our form and try it out for yourself next time you hit the gym. You’ll thank us in the long run.


gymgirlfit was created by health and fitness enthusiasts, with backgrounds in powerlifting and writing. We've written for a number of well-known fitness publishing companies.

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