I embarked on a glute building mission by incorporating glute exercises like hip thrusts into my lower body workouts to build glute strength and definition.
We don’t shy away from fitness at Tom’s Guide. We’ve done a few glute test workouts already, including Kim Kardashian’s glute workout and this bodyweight Pilates workout for the abs and glutes, but next to it was a hip thrust that I admittedly was nervous about doing. .
The hip deadlift was created by the famed Bret Contreras, who is still considered the world’s leading peach shaping expert thanks to his coveted gym, The Glute Lab. Of course, you can build your glutes without weights, but the barbell hip row is considered one of the best ways to engage, strengthen, and enlarge your glutes, along with a dedicated workout plan.
As a word of caution, it’s easy to hurt your lower back during a barbell hip row by overloading the bar, and this move requires a certain amount of glute strength and technique. If you’re new to this exercise, test your form with a personal trainer first and try building strength using bodyweight variations such as glute bridges.
What do hip thrusts do?
(Image credit: Getty Images)
The hip thrust targets the gluteus maximus, the largest and most powerful muscle in your body, but one that is usually underused and prone to weakness. Undertrained glutes can often lead to sports-related pain and injury. (will open in a new tab)so getting the most out of the maximus is as protective as it is building up the ass.
The gluteus maximus muscle works to keep you upright along with two other gluteal muscles: the gluteus medius and minimus. Collectively, your glutes stabilize your pelvis and lower body, support hip movement and rotation, and help you balance. Technically, your glutes are considered part of your core muscle network, so glute strengthening exercises will help protect your lower back, hips, and knees from injury.
Hip thrusts also activate the gluteus medius, hamstrings, quads, core, and adductors (inner thighs). With modest hip extension, you can increase the strength, size, and power of your gluteal muscles, which can improve running, athletic performance, and mobility. (will open in a new tab) and builds a well shaped butt to boot.
How to do hip thrusts
(Image credit: Getty images)
You can use the best resistance bands, kettlebells, adjustable dumbbells, or a barbell for hip rows, but the bar allows you to put on more weight, which is suitable for a hypertrophy (muscle-building process) technique called progressive overload. (more on this below).
Follow these steps:
- Sit with your back against a bench or box with a barbell on your hips, feet shoulder-width apart, and bend your knees.
- The edge of the bench should be at the level of the shoulder blades.
- Grab a barbell and put your elbows on the bench
- Pull your chin in, tighten your core muscles, and inhale
- As you exhale, push off with your heels and forcefully lift your hips up, keeping your chin, ribs, and pelvis flexed.
- At the top, your eye line should be facing forward. Squeeze your buttocks and pause, then slowly lower your hips.
(Image credit: Shutterstock images)
For a week, I did hip thrusts every day to help make my glutes bigger – and wow!
I decided to make my way to stronger and more defined buttocks. Here’s what I found out.
1. My buttocks were on fire.
Hip thrusts have been my nemesis for years, and the work I’ve done to avoid them so far has turned out to be—literally—a kick in my ass.
According to a study published in the journal Strength and Conditioning. (will open in a new tab), the barbell hip thrust maximizes glute activation and hip extension strength because the muscles remain tensed at all times. The location of the bar on the hips also creates a “different activation pattern” compared to vertical loading in the squat or deadlift. In short, this position requires more of your glutes and hip extensors than other muscles like your hamstrings, which means you’re pushing your glutes to their limits.
This should explain why walking itself became a problem the next day.
2. My buttocks were not as strong as I thought.
Barbell hip jerks can confuse you, mainly because glute isolation exercises leave you nowhere to hide. I program clients to lift weights that will feel difficult for the last few reps without compromising their form, so I had to put my ego aside and follow my own advice by sticking strictly to 90 pounds for four sets of 12 reps. during the first week.
To get the most out of this exercise, you must lift your hips high, tighten your glutes and core, and do powerful pushes. If you can’t draw a straight line between your shoulders and knees at the top, consider lightening the weight and focusing on form; this maximizes hip stretch (and height) rather than straining the lower back for a few extra pounds.
Most of us sin from time to time by lifting weights out of our own ego, but the load comes with time, not in a hurry – I still stumble over this when I try something new.
3. Change doesn’t happen overnight
By the end of the week my glutes were overworked and my glutes have never felt so turned on. I also noticed that my hips and hamstrings hurt, and I even started to like it. But, of course, I did not see a physical difference.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to sculpt your dream butt without a process called progressive overload. (will open in a new tab) to build the definition and strength of gluten. It takes several months of regular training, manipulating exercise volume to encourage muscles to adapt and grow by changing variables such as weights, reps, or frequency.
If you consider yourself a beginner, train first with your own weight and focus on fully engaging these muscles, gradually increasing the weight. Aim for 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps, eventually increasing to 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps. If your goal is strength training, increase the number of sets and decrease the number of repetitions: 3-5 sets of 1-5 heavy reps are ideal for advanced athletes.
Hip lunges are a great addition to your leg workout and can be used in conjunction with squats, lunges, and deadlifts to strengthen your glutes, leg muscles, and definition.
But you need a comprehensive glute program to build a rounded peach, so be sure to target all three glutes. We have compiled the 5 best exercises for the gluteal muscles. If you are quad-dominated, your glutes don’t “fire” properly during exercise, and other muscles can take over.
Glute isolation exercises can be used in a glute activation program to “turn on” the glute muscles before training, helping you maximize their role on leg day. Train like Bret Contreras using this glute workout to activate them as a warm-up before your next leg workout.
Next up: Daisy Keech shares her top 3 glute exercises, and these band leg exercises are one of our favorites. I tried this 7-movement kettlebell leg workout to build big legs – and wow!
The best yoga mat deals today