The Best Hip Thrust Variations for Stronger Glutes
by Evelyn Valdez·
Hip thrusts are a staple exercise that primarily targets your glutes, one of the major muscle groups in your lower body, but it also works your quads, hamstrings, adductors, and even some hip and lower back muscles. And it’s not only a muscle-building movement! The thrusting motion helps improve and develop greater hip flexibility, which can help you increase the overall range of motion of your exercises.
All in all, hip thrusts are great for building strength in your lower body and improving your workout experience, which is why we’ve prepared a list of different hip thrust variations that you can try on your next visit to the gym. These range from beginner variations to more complex ones, so no matter your fitness level, you can find the perfect one for you!
Single-leg hip thrust
Starting with a beginner-friendly variation, the single-leg hip thrust is a unilateral exercise that will help you tackle any muscle imbalances that you might have in your lower-body area. It targets all three gluteal heads as well as the quads, hamstrings, spinal erectors, and the adductors. Plus, this movement helps improve the range of your hip extension!
How to do it:
- Sit on the floor with your back against the edge of a bench, bend your knees, and firmly place your feet at a comfortable distance from your body.
- With your shoulder blades and upper back on the bench, begin the movement by thrusting your hips upward while lifting your right leg up. Stop the movement when your left thigh is parallel to the floor and the right thigh in the air is perpendicular to it, forming a 90-degree angle.
- Squeeze your muscles in this position, then lower yourself to the floor and repeat. Finish your reps and switch to the other side.
Hip thrust with banded hips
This is another beginner variation that you can try on your lower-body days, and you only need a long resistance band to do it. You will be performing a regular hip thrust movement, except that the constant tension of the band will make it harder for you to thrust your hips up, giving your glutes and hamstrings a good workout, along with your lower back and hip muscles.
How to do it:
- Lay your back against the edge of a bench and place your feet firm on the floor in front of you. Secure the ends of the long resistance band with a heavy dumbbell on each side so that it passes over your hips. If you don’t have anything to hold the band, loop it around your legs and press it down with your feet.
- To begin, drive your hips up against the tension of the resistance band until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Make sure that your muscles are engaged and that the band isn’t making your hips sink.
- Pause for a moment at the top of the movement, then slowly lower your hips to the floor and repeat. If you feel like the resistance band is too tight, place the ends closer to your body or find a longer band.
Elevated hip thrust
If you’re looking for a hip thrust variation that challenges your legs to a greater degree, you should add the elevated hip thrust to your workout routine. During the movement, you’ll have your feet elevated on another surface, such as a second bench, for a greater range of motion. This exercise is great for glute activation, as well as hamstrings, quads, and your hip and lower back muscles as well.
How to do it:
- Find a second bench and place it in front of the first bench. Ideally, your feet should be at the same level as your shoulders. If they’re higher, you’ll put more emphasis on your hamstrings, and if they’re lower, you’ll work your quads harder.
- Once you find the ideal height, sit on the floor with your back against the edge of the bench and place your feet on the edge of the bench in front of you, making sure that the distance is comfortable enough to perform the hip thrust.
- With your shoulders blades on the bench, begin the movement by thrusting your hips off the floor until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Make sure that the movement is controlled so you don’t slip off the benches.
- Hold the position for a second, squeeze your muscles, then slowly go back to the starting position and repeat.
Stability ball hip thrust
Most hip thrust variations use a bench on your back to keep you stable throughout the movement, but you can add a true challenge to it by using a stability ball instead. This will make the movement harder because now you’ll need to focus on both your upper and lower body during the movement, improving your balance and stability by engaging your core while still targeting your major leg and hip muscles.
How to do it:
- Find a stability ball that’s firm enough to support your weight and lie with your upper back, shoulder blades, and neck against it, making sure it doesn’t roll away. Place your feet shoulder-width apart in front of you at a comfortable distance.
- Place your hands on your hips for extra stability and begin the movement by thrusting your hips up, pushing through your heels until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep the movement controlled so that you don’t roll forward or to the sides.
- At the top position, squeeze your glutes and core, then slowly bring your hips back to the floor without losing the ball and repeat.
Frog hip thrust
The frog hip thruster is one of the most challenging variations of this list, but the sweat is definitely worth it! This is an isolated movement for your glutes that allows you to place all the focus on them instead of recruiting other muscles to get the work done. On top of that, it helps improve your hip flexibility, helping you tackle other lower-body exercises with ease.
How to do it:
- Find a bench and sit on the floor with your back against the edge, with your shoulder blades on top of the bench. Bend your knees, place the soles of your feet together, and open your legs to the sides resembling a butterfly position.
- Engage your glutes and begin the movement by thrusting your hips up explosively, making sure you don’t separate your feet throughout the full range of movement.
- When your torso is near parallel to the floor, squeeze your flutes in the butterfly position, then lower your body back to the starting position and repeat.
Hip thrust with mini band
Turning the difficulty down a notch, this variation uses a short resistance band or mini band looped around your thighs, right above the knees, to activate your adductors throughout the full range of motion. It also activates your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and hip muscles a lot more that the standard hip thrust.
How to do it:
- Sit on the floor with your back against a bench and loop a mini resistance band around your legs. The band should be above your knees right at the bottom part of your thighs and your legs separated so that the band is tense.
- With your feet firm on the floor, begin by thrusting your hips up without closing your legs throughout the movement. At the top, your thighs should still be separated fighting against the tension while they’re parallel to the floor.
- Hold the position for a moment while you squeeze your muscles, then lower your body to the floor and repeat.
Landmine hip thrust
SImilar to the single-leg hip thrust, this variation uses one leg to thrust your hips off the floor, with the difference that the working leg will now have to push against the resistance of a landmine and the top part of the movement will look slightly different. It gives your muscles a bigger challenge while tackling muscle imbalances in different areas, such as your glutes, hamstrings, quads, hips and lower back.
How to do it:
- Load a landmine with an appropriate weight and put it to your right side while you sit on the floor, laying your upper back and shoulder blades against a bench. With your feet firmly placed on the floor at a comfortable distance, take the bar portion of the loaded end of the landmine and place it on your right hip.
- Lift your left leg in the air, either bending the knee or keeping it straight, and begin the movement by pushing through your right heel, thrusting your hips off the floor and lifting the landmine. At the top part of the movement, your right thigh should be parallel to the floor with your left leg still in the air.
- Squeeze your muscles without letting the landmine push you down, then slowly lower your hips and repeat. Finish your reps, place the landmine on the other side and repeat with the left leg.
There you go! As you can see, there are many different types of hip thrusts besides the classic bodyweight and barbell hip thrust, so make sure to take note and add a few of these next time you’re training your lower body. Remember that having stronger legs will help you get far in your fitness journey, so don’t neglect them!
Need a good resistance band that will make your workouts more challenging?
UPPPER Gear has exactly what you need! All of our bands are made from durable and comfortable materials that offer you different resistance levels. You can shop our Collection for Short and Long Resistance Bands in a variety of different colors and designs, plus each band comes with a matching carrying bag so you can easily take your bands with you wherever you go!