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In this guide you’ll learn how to do hip thrusts, how to do glute bridges and how to do a bunch of variations and progressions of them. You’ll also learn the differences between these two exercises, pros and cons, and how these exercises will help you sculpt your booty. I’ll also briefly explain the benefits and disadvantages of each exercise variation, so you can choose the right ones for you. If you have any questions about form, you can join my free facebook group and ask questions there.

What’s The Difference Between Hip Thrusts And Glute Bridges

The biggest difference between glute bridges and hip thrusts is in the range of motion. Hip thrusts are done off the side of a bench, so your hips are required to move more distance to complete the exercise. Because of this, hip thrusts can be considered a progression of a glute bridge. As a personal trainer, I’ve had a lot of success teaching people how to do bridges first. Here’s a picture of the two side-by-side so you can see the difference:

What Are The Benefits Of Hip Thrusts And Glute Bridges

Hip thrusts and glute bridges have become increasingly popular exercises for people looking to get a bigger butt. They create a lot of tension in your glutes, and compared to exercises like squats and deadlifts, hip thrusts and bridges take very little time to master. In many ways, hip thrusts are “the new squat”.

This 2015 study conducted by Contreras Et Al. showed that hip thrusts activate glute muscles more than barbell back squats.

Note: While there is some information suggesting that hip thrusts create more tension than squats, you don’t need to choose between one or the other. A good exercise program incorporates multiple exercises that compliment your main goals, not just one.

If your goal is to build a bigger butt, you can learn more about structuring an exercises program in my free ebook: “How to get a bigger butt with exercise”.

What Are The Cons Of Hip Thrusts And Glute Bridges

Comfort

While these exercises have their clear benefits, there are some cons, too. The biggest one is comfort.

As you get past doing these exercises with just your body weight, and start using weights like barbells and dumbbells to make them more challenging, they can be uncomfortable on your hips where the weight sits.

Fortunately, they make barbell pads for this very reason. The squat sponge is my favorite barbell pad. It has a cutout in the middle for comfort, and to make it easier to roll the bar on and off of yourself.

For dumbbells, you need to fold a mat on your lap and place the dumbbell on top.

Setup

Unless your gym has a hip thruster machine, setting up for these is a pain in the ass (pun intended). If your gym doesn’t have benches that are bolted to the ground, you’ll need to press a bench up against a wall or some other type of structure. If you don’t, the bench will slide out from under you.

Glute Bridges are a much easier set up, though. You do these from the floor so you don’t need to worry about setting up a bench.

First, Where Are Your Glutes And How Do You “Work Them”?

Your glutes are a unit of three muscles that are located on the back of your hip bones. They cover the entire backside of your hip, and are responsible for creating the shape of your lower body. Here is a diagram to help.

glute muscles
Gluteus Maximus (Green)

The gluteus maximus the largest of the three glute muscles. It sits on top of the other glute muscles; it is the closest one to the skin. If you look at the green dots in the diagram above, the gluteus maximus covers the entire distance of the back of your hip. This muscle makes up the shape of your booty. Focus on feeling this muscle working during exercise.

Gluteus Medius (Light Blue)

The gluteus medius is located directly under the gluteus maximus. This muscle is located mostly towards the upper outside part of your “backside”.

Gluteus Minimus (Dark Blue)

The gluteus minimus is located under the gluteus medius, and is the deepest of the three; it is the furthest from the skin. This muscle is also the smallest of the three glute muscles.

Knowing where the Glute muscles are, and what movements they do will help you understand how to make them bigger through exercise. As you can see, the go from the very top of your hip bone, down to the uppermost part of your leg. They go from the very outside edge of your hip bones, right to the center of your “butt crack”.

What Movements Do The Glutes Help With

Extending Your Hips
hip extension
Opening Your Hips
hip abduction
Rotating Your Hips Outward
hip external rotation

When creating an exercise program to get a bigger butt, choose exercises that work all of these motions.

Glute bridges and hip thrusts focus primarily on hip extension. If you use slightly wider foot position with your toes pointed out slightly, you may feel your glutes more, because you’re taking advantage of the other two motions as well.

How To Do Glute Bridges

I mentioned earlier that hip thrusts are a progression of glute bridges. So with this in mind, it makes sense to learn how to do bridges first. I also mentioned about that I’ve had a lot of success teaching clients to do bridges first. This is because it’s easier to learn how to create tension in a smaller range of motion first, compared to a larger range of motion. Like weights, reps and sets, you can also progress in range of motion.

The First Step Is To Learn How To Create Tension

Before you start progressing your exercises, you need to learn how to create tension in your glutes. These are the primary muscles in bridges and hip thrusts.

Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. You’ll want your feet a little bit further away as opposed to closer. If your feet are directly under your knees, you’re too close. Keep your feet slightly wider than your hips and pointed out slightly.

Staying in this position squeeze your glutes as tight as you can and relax them. Do this about 10 times slowly, and really focus on feeling your Glute muscles contracting and relaxing.

Since your brain controls how your muscles move, our goal here is to influence your “mind-muscle connection”. By the end of the tenth rep, it should have gotten easier to squeeze your glutes tight in starting position.

Do this same process of squeezing and relaxing in starting position again, but this time use your hands to feel the outline of your Glute muscles. Squeezing is one way to influence your mind-muscle connection, and touch is another great way to influence how you move as well. After another 10 of these, it should feel like you’ve gotten even better at creating tension in your glutes.

Next, Avoid Letting Your Hips Rock And Tilt On The Way Up

Try squeezing in starting position one more time, but this time pay attention to whether or not your hips are rotating back and forth. Here’s a video of what this would look like.

Try performing this movement. This way, if your hips are rotating back and forth while you’re performing the bridge, you’ll know what it feels like when you’re doing it wrong. If you know what an exercise feels like done wrong, you’ll have a better idea of how to fix it.

The goal is to not let your hips rotate back and forth while you’re performing the bridges and thrusts. If you’re squeezing and finding that your hips rotate towards you, create a slight Arch in your back first, and then try squeezing.

Perform the Glute Bridge

  • Squeeze your glutes tight without letting your hips rotate back and forth.
  • Press your heels through the ground, and reach your hips toward the sky while squeezing your glutes as tight as you can.
  • On the way down, keep your glutes squeezed and don’t let your hips rotate.
  • At the bottom, relax completely and “re-squeeze” before the next rep.

Don’t let your heels come off the ground. If that happens, and you find yourself pressing through your toes, you’re favoring the front of your legs instead of the back of them.

For learning purposes, when you get to the top, you can use your hands to feel the muscles working just like in starting position.

Troubleshooting the Glute Bridge

By now, you should be pretty good at squeezing your glutes through the bridge exercise. If not here are some more techniques you can use to practice learning how to create tension in your Glutes.

Lying Butt Squeezes Face Up

lying butt squeezes face up
  • Lie flat on your back with your legs straight.
  • Squeeze and relax your glutes, and make sure you’re not pressing your heels into the ground. Try to squeeze JUST your glutes.
  • If you are using your heels, you’ll feel your other leg muscles helping. Slow down and try again.

Lying Butt Squeezes Face Down

lying butt squeezes face down
  • Lie flat on your stomach with your legs straight.
  • Focus on pressing your hips down into the floor while you’re squeezing your glutes.
  • Same as lying face up, try not to use your feet to help you create tension.
  • If you are using your heels, you’ll feel your other leg muscles helping. Slow down and try again.

With both of these exercises, you’ll want to go slow. If you can’t do it slow first, you won’t be able to do it fast. After you get the hang of these go back to practicing bridges. Once you’ve gotten the hang of those, try some of these progressions and variations. You should always be trying to get stronger to avoid hit a plateau.

Glute Bridge Variations And Progressions

If you stick with normal bridges forever, you’ll see results up to a certain point, and then get stuck. Try some of these weighted and unweighted bridges, and add them to your program to continue moving forward towards your goals.

Body Weight Glute Bridge Variations

If you don’t have a gym membership, you can do any of these exercises at home, and all you need is a little bit of floor space. I do recommend getting a gym membership, though. You will see faster changes in your body if you use weights, and focus on getting stronger.

Frog Pumps

frog pumps
How To Do Frog Pumps:
  • Start by lying on your back and placing the soles of your feet together.
  • Squeeze your butt, and lift your hips towards the ceiling by pressing through the outside of your ankles.
  • On the way down, keep your glutes squeezed. Relax completely, and “re-squeeze” before the next rep.

Tips: If you’re having trouble feeling your glutes, try moving your feet closer or further away from you. It may take a few tries to get the right position.

Benefits: This exercise forces your hips to open wider than normal bridges. Frog pumps also rotate your hips outward. By opening your hips wider and rotating them outward, you’ll activate your glutes more compared to normal bridges.

Disadvantages: With frog pumps, you’re putting force on the side of your ankles and feet instead of the bottoms of your feet. With this in mind, I wouldn’t recommend this exercise for anyone with ankle problems.

 

Single Leg Glute Bridges

 

single leg glute bridge
How To Do Single Leg Glute Bridges:
  • Start on your back and lift one leg in the air. Keep it bent so your knee is close to your chest.
  • Take your other leg and “center” it. It should be aligned with your nose, as opposed to out wider like your shoulders.
  • Press your foot through the floor, and squeeze the glute on the same side. Lift your hips toward the ceiling and return slowly.

Tips: If you find your heels coming up, push your feet a little bit further away. That should help you keep your feet flat. Remember to push through your heels; this will help you squeeze your glutes tighter.

Benefits: This is a great exercise to help compliment any standing single leg exercise, like bulgarian split squats.

Disadvantages: Compared to regular bridges, these are hard to go through the same range of motion with one leg. If you’re having trouble getting up all the way, try glute bridge marching (below).

 

Glute Bridge Marching

 

How To Do Glute Bridge Marching:
  • Start with both feet on the ground, but slightly closer than you would with a normal glute bridge.
  • Squeeze your glute tight, and lift your hips in the air.
  • Lift one leg in the air, and bring your knee close to your chest.
  • Put your leg back, and now do the same with your other leg. Think of “marching”.

 

Tips: You’ll want to keep your hips up as high as you can with this exercise.

Benefits: This exercise will help you increase the range of motion with your single leg bridges. If you’re having trouble going all the way up, this exercise will help. This is because you’re turning it into a single leg exercise AFTER you’ve already gotten to the top.

Disadvantages: This exercise is more of an “isometric” exercise for your glutes. You’re focused mostly on holding your position, instead of moving through a range of motion. With this in mind, this exercise is better suited to compliment something else, like single leg bridges.

Elevated Glute Bridge Variations

Elevated Glute bridges are a great way to progress body weight bridges, especially at home. With these exercises, you’re getting stronger by increasing the range of motion compared to doing them flat on the floor.

 

Stepper Elevated Bridges

 

stepper elevated hip bridges
How To Do Stepper Elevated Glute Bridges:
  • Start by grabbing a stepper, and setting it to your desired height.
  • Place your feet on the top of the stepper
  • Squeeze your butt, and lift your hips toward the ceiling.
  • Return slowly, and “re-squeeze” before your next rep.

Tips: Make sure your feet are on the top of the stepper, and not on the edge. This way you don’t knock it over when you lift up.

Depending on your height, you can only use so many levels. After a certain point, the step will be too high. I recommend placing the stepper against a wall. This way it can’t tip over, and you can test how many levels work for you.

Benefits: This is a great exercise to increase the range of motion for a normal bridge. It’s also fairly easy to set up, and more often than not, gyms have a ton of steppers you can use.

Disadvantages: Depending on the type of floor, steppers can slide around pretty easily. Push it against a wall so it doesn’t slide or tip over.

 

Medicine Ball Bridges

 

medicine ball glute raises
How To Do Medicine Ball Elevated Glute Bridges
  • Grab a medicine ball and place your feet together on the top of it.
  • Squeeze your butt tight, and lift your hips to the sky. Press through the center of your feet.
  • Return Slowly, and completely relax at the bottom before your next rep.

Tips: With this elevated glute bridge variation, as well as the others, make sure you’re going all the way down and relaxing at the bottom. There’s no point in elevating a glute bridge if you don’t go all the way down.

Benefits: Medicine balls are fairly common exercise equipment, and you can find them in any gym. There’s also no setup required,compared to doing elevated hip bridges with a stepper. Medicine ball glute bridges can be added to any circuit fairly easily because of this.

Disadvantages: If you’re not careful, the ball can slip out from under you. Make sure your shoes are dry when you’re doing this exercise. If you’re worried about the ball moving away from you, push it up against a wall.

 

Bosu Ball Bridges

 

bosu ball butt bridges
How To Do Bosu Ball Elevated Glute Bridges:
  • Get a bosu ball and position your feet on the round squishy side.
  • Squeeze your butt as tight as you can, and elevate your hips as high as you can get them.
  • Return to the floor slowly, and squeeze again before your next rep.

Tips: You can also flip your bosu ball upside down, so your feet are positioned on the flat side. Either side will work for this this exercise, so try both sides and pick the one you like best.

Benefits: If you’re already using this equipment for other exercises like squats, you can add elevated bridges in a circuit or superset. Just like the medicine ball, the bosu ball is a convenient way to increase the range of motion of your butt bridges.

Disadvantages: If your feet aren’t directly on the top of the bosu ball, and more towards the side, it might slide away from you while you’re doing your hip bridges. If this happens, just push it up against a wall or something sturdy so it doesn’t move.

 

Wall Bridges

 

How To Do Wall Bridges:
  • Place your feet against a wall with your knees bent 90 degrees.
  • Squeeze your glutes tight, and your hips towards the sky.
  • As you’re going up, push your feet into the wall.

Tips: Be respectful of where you’re doing this exercise. This is great to do at home, because you can take your shoes off and it doesn’t matter. If you leave your shoes on, you’re likely to mark up the walls.

Benefits: This exercise can easily be done at home, and doesn’t require any equipment. It’s probably the easiest way to increase the range of motion of a hip bridge.

Disadvantages: Many gyms have a policy where you’re required to wear shoes, and I wouldn’t recommend putting your shoes on the gym’s walls and getting them dirty. If you try this barefoot at your gym, just make sure it’s ok with management first.

The most common way people progress exercises is with weights. Next, try some of these weighted Bridge variations.

Weighted Glute Bridge Variations

After you’ve gotten the hang of bodyweight and elevated glute bridge  variations of your choice, you can try doing them with weights. The objective is to find the weighted variation you like the most, and focus on getting stronger. Set a goal weight you’d like to achieve, and then slowly add weight until you’ve hit your goal. Changing exercises too often can slow your progress. I explain more of this in my free ebook.

Weighted Glute bridges can be combined with any body weight variation, or elevated method. Keep in mind the risk vs reward, though. For example, adding a lot of weight and to a one leg elevated bridge on a medicine ball might not be such a good idea. If that medicine ball slips out from under your foot, you could be in some trouble.

The following are the two most common ways to add weight to bridges. There are other methods, but they are less commonly used and not necessary. I recommend picking one of the two methods below. Then, practice getting stronger.

Dumbbell Glute Bridges

dumbbell glute bridges
How To Do Dumbbell Glute Bridges:
  • Grab a dumbbell and place it on your lap.
  • Place it on your hip bones, not on your abs or stomach. You can place the dumbbell vertical or horizontal. It doesn’t matter which way, as long as it’s comfortable for you.
  • Perform a glute bridge like you would normally, but keep your hands on the dumbbell to prevent it from rolling.

Tips: I recommend taking a gym mat and folding it up. Place it on your hips, and then rest the dumbbell on top of the mat. Heavier dumbbells can be uncomfortable when they’re resting directly on your hip bones.

Benefits: The setup for this exercise takes very little time. It’s a very easy way to progress your glute bridges, and can be combined with other glute bridge variations. For example, you can do a “Stepper Elevated One-Leg Dumbbell Glute Bridge”.

Disadvantages: At a certain point, the dumbbell will get too heavy to pick up and hoist onto your lap. When that happens, get a barbell. With a barbell, you can roll it over your legs until it’s on your hips in the right position.

 

Barbell Glute Bridges

 

barbell glute bridges
How To Do Barbell Glute Bridges:
  • Start by loading a barbell with your desired weight.
  • Roll the barbell onto the surface of your hips. Make sure it’s on your hip bones and not on your stomach.
  • Perform a glute bridge like you would normally, but keep your hands on the barbell to prevent it from rolling.

Tips: You’ll want to make sure your gym has bumper plates, though. They are the same height as the 45lb plates in your gym, but weigh less. This way, with two 10lb bumper plates on either side, you have a 65lb barbell. A 65lb barbell is much easier to position than a 65lb dumbbell.

The smaller 10lb and 25lb weights don’t roll over your legs as easily as the big ones. At the very least, get a set of 10lb bumper plates. They’re the right height, and then you can add normal size weights as you get stronger.

If your gym doesn’t have bumper plates, stick with a dumbbell and combine it with other variations to make the weight feel more challenging. For example, elevated bridges with a dumbbell.

Benefits: Barbell Glute bridges have a clear advantage over using dumbbells for added weight. The set up is much easier when you start using heavier weights. With barbell bridges, you can load a barbell up, and roll it over your legs onto your hips. Dumbbells will require you to lift them up while you’re on the ground, and place the weight on your hips.

Disadvantages: Like dumbbells, a barbell is going to feel uncomfortable on your hips without padding. You can fold up a mat the same way as explained in the dumbbell bridges section, or you can use a barbell pad or squat sponge. I prefer the squat sponges because they fit well on the bar, and provide a lot of padding.

Smith Machine Glute Bridges

How To Do Smith Machine Glute Bridges:
  • Grab a bench, and set it “long ways” under a smith machine.
  • Add weight, and put your smith machine on the lowest setting that allows you to lie down under it.
  • Squeeze your glutes tight, and hold the bar tight. Lift your hips to the ceiling.
  • On your first rep, twist the bar with your hands to unlock the smith machine. On the last rep, lock the smith machine on the way down.

Tips: Make sure you use a squat sponge, barbell pad or some form of mat so the bar isn’t resting directly on your hips. Try a few reps with no weight or very little weight first. This way you can find a good position for this exercise.

Benefits: This is a very easy exercise to set up compared to the dumbbell and barbell glute bridges.

Disadvantages: Not all smith machines are created equally. Depending on the structure of the smith machine at your gym, you might not be able to fit a bench under the smith machine properly. 

Resistance Band Glute Bridges

There are two types of resistance bands you can use to make your Glute Bridge variations more challenging. Mini bands and power bands.

 

Mini Band Bridges

 

mini band glute bridges
How To Use Mini Bands For Glute Bridges:
  • Take a mini band, and position it around your legs, just above your knees.
  • Squeeze your glutes tight, and lift your hips up to the sky as high as you can.
  • Force your legs outward, this will squeeze your glutes tighter by resistance the force of the mini band.

Tips: Put these resistance bands around your legs, just above your knees. Some people put them below the knees, or around the ankles, but you’ll get more tension on your glutes if it’s placed above the knee. Here’s a picture of where to position your resistance bands:

where to position mini bands

Benefits: Mini bands are great because you can add them to any Glute Bridge variation. You’ll put these around your legs, just above your knees. Some people put them below the knees, or around the ankles, but you’ll get more tension on your glutes if it’s placed above the knee.

Since bridges focus mostly on moving your “hips forward and back”, mini bands are great because they add resistance to the “opening your hips” motion at the same time.

Disadvantages: Some mini bands are too thin, and can roll up on you if you open your knees too wide. If you get a set of mini bands on amazon, the smallest one usually has this problem.

Loose pants make mini bands tough to get into position, so wear something tighter fitting if possible. Try not to wear shorts when you use mini bands, because they pull on your skin when they stretch.

 

Power Bands

 

power band glute bridge
How To Use Power Bands For Glute Bridges:
  • Lay down, and grab two heavy dumbbells. Put one on each side of your body.
  • Wrap your power band around the dumbbells, and position the band over your hips.
  • Hold the dumbbells so they don’t roll, and perform a glute bridge.

Tips: Some deadlift platforms have anchors for power bands. If your gym has a deadlift platform, check to see if you can put your resistance bands there instead.

Another way to do these is to wrap the band around your arms, and leave your arms at your sides. This will be difficult either thicker bands, though, since you’ll have to work to keep your arms flat on the ground. I prefer using dumbbells as anchors for this exercise.

Benefits: Power bands are much bigger than mini bands, and they serve an entirely different purpose. Instead of applying resistance that you’ll need to press outward against, these add resistance similar to how weights would when you’re extending your hips. As you bridge higher, they bands become more tense add more resistance. Bands can be used by themselves, or they can complement any weighted, elevates or body weight variation.

Disadvantages: Power bands can’t be added to weighted bridge variations. Round dumbbells roll too easily, and you’ll be forced to hold them with your hands to anchor the resistance band.

If your gym has “hex shaped” dumbbells, use those. These should anchor the band nicely, and then you can use your hands to secure weight on your lap.

How To Do Hip Thrusts

As I mentioned earlier in this blog, the main difference between hip thrusts and Glute bridges is the range of motion required to complete the exercise.

Start by grabbing a bench and securing it against a wall or some other sturdy structure so it doesn’t move. If your gym doesn’t have a good place to position a bench, you can use the end of a bench press that’s bolted to the ground.

Next, squeeze your shoulder blades back together, and press them down towards your back pockets. This will tighten up your back muscles, and create a “shelf”.

After you’ve got your shoulders set, sit in front of your bench, and lean against it so your “shelf” is against the edge of the bench. If you’ve set your shoulders properly, it should feel fairly sturdy, and shouldn’t feel like you’re going to slip off.

If you feel like you are sliding off of the bench, or the edge of the bench is digging into the back of your neck, the bench might be too high for you. If this happens, try taking a 25lb or 45lb weight plate and using it as a seat.

Next, just like you did with bridges, squeeze your glutes tight and lift your hips to the sky while pressing your heels through the floor. On the way down, keep your glutes squeezed. At the bottom, relax, create tension again and lift. If you learned how to do glute bridges first, this will be easy.

Hip Thrust Variations And Progressions

Since hip thrusts are essentially the same thing as glute bridges, you can progress them in very similar ways. For example, barbell glute bridges and barbell hip thrusts are very similar. Barbell hip thrusts are a more difficult, though, because they require a larger range of motion to complete the exercise. After you get used to the hip thrust, move on to more advanced variations.

Body Weight Hip Thrust Variations

Single Leg Hip Thrusts

single leg hip thrusts
How To Do Single Leg Hip Thrusts:
  • Position a bench up against something sturdy. Sit in front of the bench, and squeeze your shoulders together and against the edge of the bench.
  • Lift one leg in the air. Keep it bent so your knee is close to your chest. Take your other leg and “center” it.
  • Press your foot through the floor, and squeeze the glute on the same side. Lift your hips toward the ceiling and return slowly.

Tips: If you find your heels coming up, push your feet a little bit further away. That should help you keep your feet flat. Remember to push through your heels; this will help you squeeze your glutes tighter.

Benefits: This is a great exercise to help compliment any standing single leg exercise.

Disadvantages: Compared to regular bridges, these are hard to go through the same range of motion with one leg. If you’re having trouble getting up all the way, try glute bridge marching (below).

Hip Thrust Marching

How To Do Hip Thrust Marching:
  • Position a bench up against something sturdy. Sit in front of the bench, and squeeze your shoulders together and against the edge of the bench.
  • Squeeze your glute tight, and lift your hips in the air.
  • Lift one leg in the air, and bring your knee close to your chest.
  • Put your leg back, and now do the same with your other leg. Think of “marching”.

Tips: You’ll want to keep your hips up as high as you can with this exercise.

Benefits: This exercise will help you increase the range of motion with your single leg hip thrusts. If you’re having trouble going all the way up, this exercise will help. This is because you’re turning it into a single leg exercise AFTER you’ve already gotten to the top.

Disadvantages: This exercise is more of an “isometric” exercise for your glutes. You’re focused mostly on holding your position, instead of moving through a range of motion. With this in mind, this exercise is better suited to compliment something else, like single leg hip thrusts.

Elevated Hip Thrusts

Just like elevated bridges, you can also elevate hip thrusts. Elevated hip thrusts require even more range of motion to complete the exercise, making them a progression of normal hip thrusts.

Make sure you consider the risk vs reward, though. Elevated hip thrusts on unstable surfaces are progression that requires more stability. It’s harder to do these on something moving, compared to something flat. None of this matters, though, if you become injured and can’t do them at all.

Stepper Elevated Hip Thrusts

stepper elevated hip thrust
How To Do Stepper Elevated Hip Thrusts:
  • Position a bench up against something sturdy. Sit in front of the bench, and squeeze your shoulders together and against the edge of the bench.
  • Grab a stepper, and setting it to your desired height. Make sure your butt can still reach the ground.
  • Place your feet on the top of the stepper. If they’re on the side, the stepper will slide away from you.
  • Squeeze your butt, and lift your hips toward the ceiling. Return slowly, and “re-squeeze” before your next rep.

Tips: Make sure your feet are on the top of the stepper, and not on the edge. This way you don’t knock it over when you lift up.

Depending on your height, you can only use so many levels. After a certain point, the step will be too high. I recommend placing the stepper against a wall. This way it can’t tip over, and you can test how many levels work for you.

Benefits: This is a great exercise to increase the range of motion even further than a normal hip thrust. It’s also fairly easy to set up, and more often than not, gyms have a ton of steppers you can use.

Disadvantages: Depending on the type of floor, steppers can slide around pretty easily. Push it against a wall so it doesn’t slide or tip over.

In many gyms this isn’t likely going to happen for elevated hip thrusts; you’ll have a tough time finding something secure to push a bench AND a stepper up against. For this reason I wouldn’t recommend combining elevated hip thrusts with heavy weights.

Bosu Ball Elevated Hip Thrusts

bosu ball elevated hip thrusts
How To Do Bosu Ball Elevated Hip Thrusts:
  • Position a bench up against something sturdy. Sit in front of the bench, and squeeze your shoulders together and against the edge of the bench.
  • Get a bosu ball and position your feet on the round squishy side.
  • Squeeze your butt as tight as you can, and elevate your hips as high as you can get them.
  • Return to the floor slowly, and squeeze again before your next rep.

Tips: You can also flip your bosu ball upside down, so your feet are positioned on the flat side. Either side will work for this this exercise, so try both sides and pick the one you like best.

Benefits: If you’re already using a bosu ball and a bench for other exercises, you can add elevated hip thrusts to a circuit or superset. Just like the medicine ball or stepper, the bosu ball is a convenient way to increase the range of motion of your hip thrusts.

Disadvantages: If your feet aren’t directly on the top of the bosu ball, and more towards the side, it might slide away from you while you’re doing your hip thrusts. For this reason I wouldn’t recommend combining elevated hip thrust variations with heavy weights.

Box Elevated Hip Thrusts

box elevated hip thrusts
How To Do Box Elevated Hip Thrusts:
  • Position a bench up against something sturdy. Sit in front of the bench, and squeeze your shoulders together and against the edge of the bench.
  • Grab a box, and make sure it isn’t too high. Your butt should still be able to reach the ground.
  • Place your feet on the top of the box. If they’re on the side, the box could potentially flip over.
  • Squeeze your butt, and lift your hips toward the ceiling. Return slowly, and “re-squeeze” before your next rep.

Tips: Make sure your feet are on the top of the box, and not on the edge. This way you don’t knock it over when you lift up.

Benefits: This is a great exercise to increase the range of motion even further than a normal hip thrust. It’s also fairly easy to set up, and more often than not, gyms have a few different sized boxes you can use.

Disadvantages: Unless the boxes at your gym are very small, it’ll be tough to get your feet directly on the top of box. If this happens, try using a stepper instead. The set up with a stepper will take more time, though.

Weighted Hip Thrust Variations

Once you’ve gotten used to doing hip thrusts without weight, you can start trying some weighted variations. You can add weight to standard hip thrusts, or any of the Elevated variations.

The set up for weighted hip thrusts are the same as the Glute bridges is essentially the same as weighted bridges. The difference, though, is you’ll have your back against a bench increasing the range of motion required to complete the exercise.

Dumbbell Hip Thrusts

dumbbell hip thrust
How To Do Dumbbell Hip Thrusts:
  • Position a bench up against something sturdy. Sit in front of the bench, and squeeze your shoulders together and against the edge of the bench.
  • Grab a dumbbell and place it on your hip bones, not on your abs or stomach. You can place the dumbbell vertical or horizontal. It doesn’t matter which way, as long as it’s comfortable for you.
  • Perform a hip thrust like you would normally, but keep your hands on the dumbbell to prevent it from rolling.

Tips: I recommend taking a gym mat and folding it up. Place it on your hips, and then rest the dumbbell on top of the mat. Heavier dumbbells can be uncomfortable when they’re resting directly on your hip bones.

Benefits: The setup for this exercise takes very little time. It’s a very easy way to progress your glute bridges, and can be combined with other hip thrust variations.

Disadvantages: At a certain point, the dumbbell will get too heavy to pick up and hoist onto your lap. When that happens, get a barbell. With a barbell, you can roll it over your legs until it’s on your hips in the right position.

Barbell Hip Thrusts

barbell hip thrust
How To Do Barbell Hip Thrusts:
  • Position a bench up against something sturdy. Sit in front of the bench, and squeeze your shoulders together and against the edge of the bench.
  • Loading a barbell with your desired weight, and roll the barbell onto the surface of your hips. Make sure it’s on your hip bones and not on your stomach.
  • Perform a hip thrust like you would normally, but keep your hands on the barbell to prevent it from rolling.

Tips: You’ll want to make sure your gym has bumper plates, though. They are the same height as the 45lb plates in your gym, but weigh less. This way, with two 10lb bumper plates on either side, you have a 65lb barbell. A 65lb barbell is much easier to position than a 65lb dumbbell.

The smaller 10lb and 25lb weights don’t roll over your legs as easily as the big ones. At the very least, get a set of 10lb bumper plates. They’re the right height, and then you can add normal size weights as you get stronger.

If your gym doesn’t have bumper plates, stick with a dumbbell and combine it with other variations to make the weight feel more challenging. For example, elevated bridges with a dumbbell.

Benefits: Barbell hip thrusts have a clear advantage over using dumbbells for added weight. The set up is much easier when you start using heavier weights. With barbell hip thrusts, you can load a barbell up, and roll it over your legs onto your hips. Dumbbells will require you to lift them up while you’re on the ground, and place the weight on your hips.

Disadvantages: Like dumbbells, a barbell is going to feel uncomfortable on your hips without padding. You can fold up a mat the same way as explained in the dumbbell bridges section, or you can use a barbell pad or squat sponge. I prefer the squat sponges because they fit well on the bar, and provide a lot of padding.

Smith Machine Hip Thrusts

How To Do Smith Machine Hip Thrusts:
  • Position a bench up against in the smith machine so it’s secure and can’t slide.
  • Add weight, and put your smith machine on the setting just below your hips. This exercise starts from the top down.
  • Get under the bar, and squeeze your shoulders together and against the edge of the bench. Unrack the weight by squeezing your glutes, and pressing up.
  • Twist the bar with your hands to unlock the smith machine. On the last rep, lock the smith machine in the same spot you started.

Tips: Make sure you use a squat sponge, barbell pad or some form of mat so the bar isn’t resting directly on your hips.

Try a few reps with no weight or very little weight. This way you can find a good position for this exercise.

Benefits: Since this exercise starts from the top, it makes it different from any other glute bridge or hip thrust variation in this guide. If you’re having trouble creating tension in your glutes at the bottom of other weighted hip thrust variations, this could be a good variation for you.

Disadvantages: Not all smith machines are created equally. Depending on the structure of the smith machine at your gym, you might not be able to secure a bench in it.

Also, some smith machines don’t go as low as others. If the track on the smith machine at your gym doesn’t go all the way down, you’re better off doing barbell hip thrusts, or smith machine glute bridges. Remember, the reason to use hip thrusts instead of glute bridges is for the increase in range of motion.

 

Resistance Band Hip Thrusts

 

 

Mini Band Hip Thrusts

 

mini hand hip thrusts
How To Use Mini Bands For Hip Thrusts:
  • Take a mini band, and position it around your legs, just above your knees.
  • Squeeze your glutes tight, and lift your hips up to the sky as high as you can.
  • Force your legs outward, this will squeeze your glutes tighter by resistance the force of the mini band.

Tips: Put these resistance bands around your legs, just above your knees. Some people put them below the knees, or around the ankles, but you’ll get more tension on your glutes if it’s placed above the knee. Here’s a picture of where to position your resistance bands:

where to position mini bands

Benefits: Mini bands are great because you can add them to any hip thrust variation. You’ll put these around your legs, just above your knees. Some people put them below the knees, or around the ankles, but you’ll get more tension on your glutes if it’s placed above the knee.

Since bridges focus mostly on moving your “hips forward and back”, mini bands are great because they add resistance to the “opening your hips” motion at the same time.

Disadvantages: Some mini bands are too thin, and can roll up on you if you open your knees too wide. If you get a set of mini bands on amazon, the smallest one usually has this problem.

Loose pants make mini bands tough to get into position, so wear something tighter fitting if possible. Try not to wear shorts when you use mini bands, because they pull on your skin when they stretch.

 

Power Band Hip Thrusts

 

power band hip thrusts
How To Use Power Bands For Hip Thrusts:
  • Grab two heavy dumbbells. Put one on each side of your body.
  • Wrap your power band around the dumbbells, and position the band over your hips.
  • Position a bench up against something sturdy. Sit in front of the bench, and squeeze your shoulders together and against the edge of the bench.
  • Squeeze your glutes, and execute a set of hip thrusts.

Tips: Some deadlift platforms have anchors for power bands. If your gym has a deadlift platform, check to see if you can put your bench and resistance bands there instead. Just make sure you’re able to secure the bench against something sturdy so it doesn’t move, and can’t slide away from you.

Benefits: Power bands are much bigger than mini bands, and they serve an entirely different purpose. Instead of applying resistance that you’ll need to press outward against, these add resistance similar to how weights would when you’re extending your hips. As you bridge higher, the bands become more tense add more resistance. Bands can be used by themselves, or they can complement any weighted, elevated or body weight variation.

Disadvantages: Power bands can’t be easily added to weighted hip thrust variations. The range of motion for hip thrusts compared to glute bridges is much higher. Knowing this, you won’t be able to hold the dumbbells in place with your hands.

If your gym has “hex shaped” dumbbells, use those. These should anchor the band nicely, and then you can use your hands to secure weight on your lap. If you don’t have “hex shaped” dumbbells, having a 45lb weight plate in the middle of the dumbbells prevents them from rolling into each other.

Which Variation Should You Choose? Hip Thrusts VS Glute Bridges?

When it comes to making your butt and legs look better, which variation should you choose? Hip thrusts or glute bridges? With that being said, when choosing an exercise from this guide, or any exercise guide, there are a few things you should consider.

Will This Exercise Help Me Get To My Goals?

Every exercise in your program should be selected because it will help you get to your goals. The exercises in this guide will help you make your butt and legs look better. So if that is one of your goals, any of the exercises here can be of some use to you.

What Is The Risk Vs Reward?

In a split second, an injury can cost you months of consistent gym progress. Every exercise in your program should have minimal risk for injury. In this guide, for example, each hip thrust variation mentions you need to secure a bench against something sturdy so it doesn’t slide. If you can’t secure a bench, use glute bridge variations instead. The range of motion for glute bridges is less compared to hip thrusts, but it’s a better choice when you consider the risk vs reward.

How Can I Progress This Exercise?

If you’ve read my ebook “How To Get A Bigger Butt With Exercise”, you’ll know that you need to plan your exercises for progression. Put simply, you’ll want to make sure exercises become more challenging as you become stronger. The easiest way to do this is by increasing the amount of weight, reps and sets you use. Here’s the link to download my ebook.

Which Variation Would You Recommend?

In my experience as a personal trainer and online fitness coach, I’ve found most people don’t like to do exercises on their own that require too much set up. I used to program barbell hip thrusts all the time, because they’re a fantastic exercise for your glutes. I learned, though, that a lot of people don’t like setting up for them, and they end up skipping them.

For this reason, I’ve started recommending barbell glute bridges instead of barbell hip thrusts. The range of motion is smaller, yes, but people don’t skip these. The set up is easier, and you can set this up barbell glute bridges in the same place as all of the rest of your barbell exercises. I’d program exercises that are practical, over exercises that are ideal, any day of the week.

After reading this, you should know how to do hip thrusts, glute bridges, and several variations of these exercises. My favorite variation is the barbell glute bridge, what’s yours? If you have any questions or need a form check, join my free facebook group and post your questions there.

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