When Sir Mix-A-Lot declared he liked big butts, he should have dedicated a lyric or two to the hip thrust.
Many people will tell you that the squat is the secret sauce to a powerful and beautiful derrière. However, research shows that hip thursts and squats combined will elicit the highest levels of gluteal activation needed for a stronger booty. If you want to dive into the science of it all, you can check out this blog post from Bret Contreras over at EricCressey.com. Bret is known as the ‘glute guy’ among fitness circles and his research has created beautiful booties all around the world.
Hat tip to you, Bret!
Building a powerful backside doesn’t just look good, it also helps us perform better at life. From a performance perspective strong glutes generate into powerful sprints, stronger runs, higher jumps, more efficient cycling, and stronger lifts. You just can’t ignore the booty!
So, when talking about glute development from an aesthetic, muscle activation and Brazilian standpoint (<— in case you didn’t know, the booty is our national icon) hip thrust variations are the way to go.
One of my favorite variations is the single-leg hip thrust.
WHAT IT IS: A progression from the standard glute bridge (where you’re on the ground) and bilateral hip thrust exercises (both feet on the ground, shoulders elevated).
WHY IT’S AWESOME: This movement reaches higher muscle activation due to the increased range of motion (ROM) and is the perfect progression from the standard glute bridge. Plus,it helps you focus on the “pump” one glute at a time, which is a nice way of saying you can’t really cheat on this one.
If you want to feel a booty burn, this is the exercise for you.
PROGRAMMING: This exercise can be regressed to bodyweight (shown in the video), or progressed with resistance bands, dumbells or a barbell. If you’re a novice lifter, start with glute bridges on the ground before advancing to the single-leg variation on the bench. Depending on what your training calls for that day, the single-leg hip thrust is an effective accessory exercise after your main lifts or as part of a dynamic warm-up to activate those glutes before a heavy squat day. If you use it as an accessory exercise, aim for 4-5 sets of 8-10 reps. If it’s just for a warm-up, 3 sets of 10-12 will do just fine.
GET IT RIGHT:
– Take your time. Don’t rush through the reps.
– Avoid hyperextension in the lower back (lumbar spine) when you drive the hips up.
– Set yourself up on the bench so that the bottom tips of your shoulder blades are up on the bench when you’re in the bridge position.
– What you do with your arms is up to you. Either lay your arms out into a T, cross your arms in front of your chest or place the hands on the hips. It doesn’t matter, just do what works for you.
– A great tip I picked up from Ben Bruno: Pick up your toes! Focus on driving through the heel and do so by lifting the toes up through your shoes (which you’ll note, I forgot to do much of in the video).
– Pushing too hard on the arms on the bench. Instead, ground your heel into the ground at the start.
– Hyperextending the lower back. Any arch in that lower back means you get less hip extension and activation in the glutes. Fix it by pulling your rib cage down and turning that booty ON.
– Not using your glute. I mean, come on. This is a glute exercise. Squeeze that thing!
– Moving too fast or in slow-mo. Find a reasonable pace that allows you to focus on good quality reps.