For many people, women especially, the pursuit of larger gluteus muscles is the top priority for their exercise regimen. For most gym goers the default exercise for gluteus hypertrophy is the classic back squat. Place a loaded barbell on your back shoulders and squat up and down. While this exercise does work the gluteus, it is far from the best exercise for gluteus activation and therefore gluteus hypertrophy. Thanks to the work of Bret Contreras, “The Glute Guy”, we now have the ultimate gluteus building exercise, the hip thruster. In his 2010 article for the T-Nation website, (https://www.t-nation.com/training/inside-the-muscles-best-leg-glute-and-calf-exercises) Contreras shows how drastically superior the hip thruster is versus the squat using electromyography (EMG) data. After testing several squat and hip thruster variations the scores for gluteus activation are more than double for the hip thruster versus any version of squat.
So knowing that the hip thruster is going to do more to activate your gluteus, how does one do this exercise anyway? One thing to keep in mind for this exercise, it is not for the timid or easily embarrassed. If you are in a gym that has not seen many people doing hip thrusters, you will get some looks. So here is how to do the best gluteus exercise you are not doing: the hip thruster.
- First gather the equipment that you need: a barbell, a padded bench (the lower the better), 15 pound bumper plates, and a really good bar pad (I recommend the squat sponge).
- Clamp the bumper plates on the barbell and install the squat sponge.
- Sit on the floor with your back to the bench hooking your shoulder blades on the edge of the seat.
- Roll the barbell over your legs so the squat sponge is over your hips, raise your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
- Keeping your hands on the barbell for balance, raise your hips and butt off of the floor pressing your hips into the squat sponge on the barbell. Lift your hips until you form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders (or as close as possible to that).
- Then lower the hips back down almost to the floor and back up again for another rep.
That’s it, the basic hip thruster. However, there are some finer points to doing this exercise to maximize safety, comfort, and efficiency.
- Make sure your feet are slightly wider than shoulder width apart and that your shins are as close to vertical as possible at the top of the exercise. This is done mostly by feel, but if you can get a spotter to check your form it can be very helpful.
- Look straight ahead. Your natural tendency is to look up at the ceiling not only because it feels right, but you don’t make awkward eye contact with those working out close by. Unfortunately this puts your upper back in a compromised position which is not good. So, look forward, and if you need to close your eyes.
- To really maximize the gluteus burns of the exercise try to tuck your tailbone and point it towards the ceiling. This posterior pelvic tilt takes the gluteus activation up a notch. Additionally you can also pause the exercise at the top of the thruster for a second or two which will hold the burn even longer.
So there you have it, now you can start hip thrusting your way to a better booty.
<a data-pin-do=”embedUser” data-pin-board-width=”400″ data-pin-scale-height=”240″ data-pin-scale-width=”80″ href=”#”></a>
Bret Contreras, “Inside The Muscles: Best Leg, Glute, and Calf Exercises”, April, 19, 2010 https://www.t-nation.com/training/inside-the-muscles-best-leg-glute-and-calf-exercises