Want More Burn From Your Hip Thrusts? Try These Variations

The hip thrust is a beloved (though underutilized) exercise, whether you're looking to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings or quads. If you're regularly incorporating this exercise into your workouts, you're no stranger to the benefits. But as with other exercises, adding variations keeps your mind and muscles engaged.

To get more burn from hip thrusts, try these variations. (Image: LIVESTRONG.com)

For the best results, work in hip thrusts like a traditional compound movement, says Maillard Howell, owner of CrossFit Prospect Heights and founder of The Beta Way, a holistic wellness program. Practice the exercise at least once a week and add a little more weight each week, he says.

"They can be done as accessory work to your deadlift, so do [hip thrusts] any day you work on deadlifts, which should be once a week." So on your next leg day, give one of these four variations a try (once you've perfected the body-weight version, of course)!

First, Master the Standard Hip Thrust

  1. Sit on the floor and anchor your shoulder blades on a stable, raised surface like an exercise bench.
  2. Place your feet on the floor slightly wider than hip-width apart. Feet should be turned open slightly to emphasize the glutes.
  3. Press into your heels as you activate your glutes and press your hips up.
  4. End with your pelvis tucked under and below the height of your shoulders.
  5. Lower back to the starting position.

Once you have the standard hip thrust form down, you can add a barbell over your hips to make the move more challenging. That goes for all the variations below.

1. Hip Thrust With Isometric Hold

  1. Sit on the floor and anchor your shoulder blades on a stable, raised surface like an exercise bench.
  2. Place your feet on the floor slightly wider than hip-width apart. Feet should be turned open slightly to emphasize the glutes.
  3. Press into your heels as you activate your glutes and press your hips up.
  4. At the top, hold for three seconds, tucking your pelvis under and keep it below shoulder height.
  5. Lower back down to starting position.

This is more challenging than the standard hip thrust, as you're increasing the time your muscles are under tension at the top of the thrust, says Holly Perkins, CSCS, author of Lift to Get Lean.

2. Hip Thrust With Band

  1. Place a circular resistance band (aka mini band or loop) around both legs, just above your knees.
  2. Sit on the floor and anchor your shoulder blades on a raised surface, feet on the floor slightly wider than hip-width apart. Turn your feet out slightly to emphasize the glutes.
  3. Keep tension on the band by pressing your knees outward slightly.
  4. Press into your heels as you activate your glutes and press your hips up.
  5. End with your pelvis tucked under and below the height of your shoulders.
  6. Lower back to the starting position.

This is more challenging than the standard hip thrust, as you're adding additional resistance by adding the band, says Perkins. This forces you to use glute medius, incorporating more muscle activation during the move.

3. Single-Leg Hip Thrust

  1. Sit on the floor and place your shoulder blades on an exercise bench. Place your feet together on the floor with your toes turned opened slightly.
  2. Press into your left heel and lift your right knee upward so that your knee is over your right hip as you activate your glutes and press your hips upward.
  3. At the top, tuck your pelvis slightly, keeping it below shoulder height.
  4. Lower back to the starting position.

This version challenges your single-leg strength and balance and can help highlight any muscle weakness in the given leg, Perkins says. Just make sure to do the same number of reps on both legs.

4. Hip Thrust With Double Bands

  1. Place a circular resistance band (aka mini band or loop) around both legs, just above your knees, and sit on the floor, leaning against a hip thrust machine that accepts band attachments.
  2. While on the floor, attach a resistance band over your hips and connect it to the apparatus on the floor. This provides additional band resistance at both the knees and hips.
  3. From here, press into your heels and activate your glutes to press your pelvis up.
  4. Pause at the top for three seconds before lowering down.
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