Hip Thrust Progression Guide (Glute Bridge to Hip Thrust)

by Marianne  - April 4, 2021

[Updated 2021]

You're looking for the best hip thrust regressions and progression or glute bridge progressions.

If you're struggling with the hip thrust, it can often be a stability or motor control issue and quite often it will be due to where your feet/foot is placed, how high the bench is (or what part of the back you're leaning on).

Or maybe you just don't like them. You feel them in your back or quads more than you'd like. While these issues can be "fixed" (and by all means book a form check with me), there are ways to get the same results by regressing the movement.

The best "regression" I use with my members - and something many people report feeling MORE benefits than the hip thrust - is the Foot-Elevated Glute Bridge (these can be loaded a little with a loop band, but not as much as other things).

Banded Foot-Elevated Glute Bridge by Marianne Kane - GIF

This is one of my favorites, and IMO one of the best glute exercises for at-home training. It's stable, user-friendly, and beginners can start doing them pretty much right a way. It also doesn't seem to create as many issues for people, like hamstring cramps, quad dominance, low back fatigue. This is such an under-rated glute exercise.

But it's not done in isolation. You need a program that includes other pieces of the "glute building" puzzle to make it even better. That's why I designed Get Glutes with home-stayers AND gym-goers in mind.  

Now, for heavier loading, the best barbell hip thrust regression is the barbell glute bridge. In fact I would argue, combined with some lighter/higher rep single leg work (like foot-elevated glute bridges or single leg hip thrusts) heavier BB Glutes Bridges yield equal results to the Barbell Hip Thrust. 

Barbell glute bridge with Marianne Kane GIF demonstration

As you can see you don't need to go all the way to the end of a "linear progression series" to get great results. It's not zero-sum. Barbell hip thrusts aren't necessarily the be-all-end all goal. I personally prefer the above combination, and use the barbell hip thrust sparingly.

Now, let's explore one path from the typical beginner level glute bridge exercises, ending with the most advanced hip thrust variation. But, with that caveat that you can make many of these a part of your workouts, even when you consider yourself "advanced".

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Why Should You Listen to Me?

I been coaching for over a decade, worked with "The Glute Guy" himself (In 2012, Kellie Davis, myself, and Bret Contreras Co-Founded the original Get Glutes  (which has served over 500 men and women), and I got my own amazing glute "after shot", which you can see below. 

Since my first Interview with Bret Contreras in 2010, I pretty much fell in love with the Hip Thrust exercise. Using body-weight only, I personally managed to enhance the curves and the strength of my beloved behind, just by including the Hip Thrust in my workouts and learning about effective activation of the glutes! See below my hip thrust before and after photo.

glute training, hip thrust, before and after

My One Mistake

One "mistake" I made, was thinking that because I already exercise regularly and do not consider myself a beginner, I did not need to start at the basic level with an exercise such as this one and I skipped to a level too high for me (the single-leg Hip Thrust).

So the first lesson here is understanding and accepting that regression is just as important as progression in building strength and developing good form.


Glute Bridge vs Hip Thrust (what's the difference)?

In some ways this is splitting hairs, since both exercises essentially work the same muscles in a similar way, but there is one main difference between the Glute Bridge and the Hip Thrust:

The Glute Bridge is performed with the shoulders and feet on the floor. It becomes the Hip Thrust when the shoulders are elevated off the floor in some way. In doing this, you increase the Range of Movement (ROM) significantly by having to recruit more force to perform the exercise, allowing you to build strength. I explain in the video below:

However, as you'll see later, there is a glute bridge progression that increases the range of movement while maintaining more stability since the back and shoulders remain on the floor, while the feet get elevated.

[For anyone wanting a more detailed explanation of the difference this elevation makes to the exercise's effectiveness, then check out Bret's post in response to Bianca's question relating to the "Single-Leg Glute Bridge vs Single-Leg Hip Thrust". The same reasoning can be applied to the double-leg variations.]

To save you the trip, basically the reason Single-Leg variations of both the Glute Bridge and the Hip Thrust are considered more advanced than even the weighted Glute Bridge, is down to increased demand to the stability of the pelvis and lumbar spine, calling for greater control and rotary stability of the "core".

When I originally wrote this post in 2011, I was of the mind to keep someone doing the bilateral (double leg) versions before transitioning to single leg. These days, I realize that's probably overly cautious, especially when it's body weight only. Therefore, I introduce a single leg variation pretty early on for my clients, even beginners. You can see my preferred progression series near the end of this article. Skip to it HERE.

Moving on, the video below is my original tutorial on the "journey" from Glute Bridge to Hip Thrust and some issues we need to overcome along the way. Given the progress I made over the first 18 months, I wanted to keep this video here since it might still help you get more from the exercises.  Though the sound isn't great at times.

Hip Thrust Problem: Are They Bad for Your Back?

I'm adding this section because some people may have concerns that the Hip Thrust is not as effective as the Glute Bridge because the Hip Thrust "over-works" the muscles in the lower back.

[Side Note] While many people do seem to struggle more with Hip Thrusts than Glute Bridges, I personally think it has to do with the steep increase in range of movement, which messes with the mechanics a little and many people also end up being more stiff and "careful" which plays into the fatigue they feel as aching/pain in the low back. It's therefore my opinion that it's under-recovery of the low back that makes it feel like it's doing harm.

This question about whether hip thrusts are back for your back was brought to light by Bianca's trainer back in 2011, but more recently I have been approached by a concerned gym-goer that I would cause harm to my back by hinging my back so low down on a bench for the hip thrust.   

Even though it is clear from the video why this may occur, I ran this query by Bret and he had the following response, which helps in understanding what we can think about when preparing to do this lift (just like any other):

Bret Contreras

(quote from original post in 2011)

"They all work the glutes hard as hip extensors and pelvic stabilizers. If you feel it in your low back it's because you have shitty pelvic stability at the top of the movement near end-range hip extension and you end up hyperextending the lumbar spine and going into anterior pelvic tilt.


Just like you need to learn to control the lumbopelvic region when squatting and deadlifting, you need to do so for hip thrusting motions as well. Think "glutes" all the way through the movement and don't go too heavy to where you end up overarching the back and allowing the pelvis to rotate forward."

In other words, before even lifting the glutes off the floor, squeeze them to tilt the pelvis back (or the "tail bone" forward), like you're trying to flatten the lower back to the floor, then lift. I have found this to be very useful, as it breaks the exercise down more so you are not trying to do everything at once, which is hard to do especially if your glutes have been "asleep" for the last decade.  

IMPORTANT: The hip thrust is very unlikely to be "the" cause of a back injury, but that doesn't mean it can't irritate something that's already brewing, or something chronic, like SI Joint problems (especially during single leg variations). My advice would be to experiment with different foot positions, have the bench much lower down your back to shorten the lever arm, and keep your training volume low to avoid excessive fatigue.

How do you know if you're hyper-extending the lower back while hip thrusting?

As I briefly mentioned at the 01:04 point in the video above (click HERE to return to it) If your lower back is over-extending, you'll know by the position of your ribcage and abs. If your ribs aren't flush with your abs (or your pelvis isn't aligned with your ribcage) then there's a good chance you're over-arching and not effectively using your glutes. When you look down your front at the top of either the Glute Bridge or Hip Thrust, you want to see the hips up, but the abs and ribs flat, not flared or stuck outward. 

Sometimes this can be corrected simply by becoming more aware of your ab engagement, but other times working on some hip flexor stretches *may* help. While you may just need time to master your glute control, another reason may be that you're trying to bridge up too high. 

The next video runs through a basic, yet effective drill to "open" the hips (by stretching the hip flexors) and "activating" the glutes, in all directions.  It is funny actually that my last glute activation video contained the glute bridge as the main exercise. While the glute bridge still remains an excellent activation exercise, the glutes are responsible for more than just hip extension - hence the rotations and abductions:

 The Glute Bridge may look like an easy exercise, but there are a lot of things going on and it can be tricky to get the hang of. Think of the Body Weight Glute Bridge as a place to correct form and build a foundation for amazing glutes. Mine have never looked, or felt better! πŸ˜‰

Are Hip Thrusts the Best Glute Exercise?

In the interest of being as accurate as I can with this information, I'd like to address an elephant in the room: The Hip Thrust might not be superior to the full squat for developing the Glutes >.< OUCH!

According to the paper β€œBack Squat vs. Hip Thrust Resistance-training Programs in Well-trained Women” by Barbalho et al. (2020) (albeit a single paper), the squat is king.  However, from what I understand, there are a few problems with this paper, so it's not clear-cut.

Even if this paper was 100% accurate, that doesn't mean there's no benefit to performing hip thrusts (anecdotally, I saw a massive improvement in my ability to do squats and kettlebell swings better after really focusing on my hip thrusts), so not much will change in my training. Here's why this paper probably won't matter to most trainees:

Glute bridges and hip thrusts have never been, or ever will be, central to my programming. They are just one of 6 compound movement patterns I include for my own training, one-to-one clients, and members of Get Glutes (2.0)

The other thing to bear in mind when thinking about "squat vs hip thrust/glute bridge" is the user-friendliness of an exercise and risk. It is much less risky and less taxing to do heavy barbell bridging than heavy barbell squats. Many people struggle to optimize their squatting to even get up to the heavier loads, whereas bridges (including hip thrusts) are easier to optimize.

Therefore, once more, it's important to have a smart program that takes these things into consideration.

Now, as you digest the following progression series, remember: these work on their one, yes, but they work better within a strength and conditioning program.

Now let's have a look at how I integrate and progress the glute bridge to the hip thrust, and when I introduce single leg variations.

My 7-Stage Hip Thrust Progression Series

Rough Guide to Sets, Reps, and when to progress: Once you can complete 2-3 sets x 8-12 perfect reps of your chosen variation below - without any issues -  consider yourself ready to progress.  Note: If the progression becomes too difficult and your form is suffering, REGRESS until your form is more consistent, or perform fewer reps at the more advanced version.

An info graphic containing all the hip thrust progressions guide below

Glute Bridge and Hip Thrust Progression List (Easiest to Hardest):

Double Leg Glute Bridge (Progression 1)

Things to note: In this variation, notice the vertical shins when hip are up, and ribs are flush with abs. Most people can master this very quickly, and then it can become a warm-up exercise. At the beginning, aim for 2-3 Sets of 10-15 Reps.

Double Foot-Elevated Glute Bridge (Progression 2)

Things to note: While shins aren't vertical in this one, your thighs will start vertical before you lift your hips. And again, my ribs are flush, so not over-arching. I also push downward on the step so as not to tip it over, and I use the arch side of my heel. Use a low, medium, then high step to gradually increase the range of movement for the Glute Bridge. This will increase strength and control in preparation for the less stable variations. 2-3 Sets of 8-12 Reps.

Double Leg Hip Thrust (Progression 3)

Things to note: You guessed it... vertical shins again and flat torso because my hips are fully extended. When the shoulders lean against something, it's no longer a Glute Bridge. This position requires more lumbo-pelvic stabilization, but because it's still double-legged, it's very doable for beginners. 2-3 Sets of 8-12 Reps is realistic for most people.

Single Foot-Elevated Glute Bridge (Progression 4)

Things to note: Same as double foot variation, but with the added attention to keep my hips level right and left. I find this is a great place to begin training the single leg bridges. I normally skip the regular glute bridge variation and begin with the foot elevated on a low/medium step (even about an 8 inch step to start): 2 Sets of 8 Reps is a good start point.

Single Leg Hip Thrust (Progression 5)

Things to note: Shin vertical, hips and ribs level, hips even, and pushing down with my whole foot. After practicing the single leg foot-elevated bridge, it's a good time to increase the stability challenge again and do these. I often have people start with 2 Sets of 8 Reps as fatigue can interfere with the stability.

Double Leg Bottom-Up Hip Thrust (Progression 6)

Things to note: Okay, I'll admit, I needed to have the plyo box a little closer (and lower). I would prefer my feet closer to under my knee (see single leg position below). This imperfection is good for you to see because, while it still works, it's not optimal. With both shoulders and feet elevated the Bottom-Up Hip Thrust variations are very challenging. Whilst you don't need to progress this far with range of movement, if you lack the weights at home, this is good option (this fairly advanced): 2-3 Sets of 8-12 Reps

Marianne Kane performing a single leg hip thrust with shoulders on a bench, and working leg bent, shin vertical and foot on step, creating a bridge between bench and step. The photo shows the top position of the movement, which has hips in full extension.

Single Leg Bottom-Up Hip Thrust (Progression 7)

Things to note: This is as close to perfect form as you can get with this. Everything is even and level, and my working side shin is almost vertical and in a great leveraged position for lots of power. Ahh to be 10 years younger again LOL. In terms of movement skill, is the most advanced of all the hip thrust variations (loaded or not). You're not only far more unstable, but you start the movement in full (or almost) hip flexion: Start with 2 Sets of 8 Reps.

Over the last 9 years, since first penning this article, I have come to learn that most beginners can quickly master the Single Leg Glute Bridge and the Single Foot-Elevated Glute Bridge within the first 4-8 weeks of training. Most people I coach are intermediate trainees, and they get great results from the single leg variations with body weight, and double leg barbell hip thrusts and glute bridges (see section below on loading progressions). 

If you have no way of adding additional resistance to the Double Leg Variations then, provided you can perform the Body Weight Shoulder and Feet Elevated Hip Thrust with decent form then there is no reason why you could not try advancing the exercise to the Single Leg options.

The Perfect Bench (or step) Height for Hip Thrusting

[Affiliate Disclosure: MyomyFitness.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.]

Over the years I have realized that MANY benches suck for Hip Thrusts! Not only are there ones with uneven widths, but so often they are just too high for most women to get into an optimal position, especially with bar.

For the average-sized women (I'm 5'5'') a 14 inch step (like my Reebok Deck ->  affiliate link) works great (this is the best aerobic step for hip thrusts IMHO). However, up to 16.5 inches also works fine, like the height of the bench (another affiliate link)I had in the single leg bottom-up hip thrust photo above kind of bench (combined with the Reebok Deck, it's perfect. Average-sized men or taller women can use benches above this, but I personally believe most can use 16.5 as a good height. 

Weighted Hip Thrust Progressions

As I mentioned at the top of this epic article, I will be building this section out a little, but for now, here are my recommendations for adding external load to your Glute Bridges and Hip Thrusts (a barbell is best):

1. Kettlebell or Dumbbell Glute Bridge: this allows you to acclimate to the having load on your hips. The down side is for the double leg variation it's hard to get enough load to make it really effective, so that's the main limitation. I would do single leg loaded Glute Bridges in this case.

2. Barbell Hip Thrust: While not set in stone, I like to offer this variation to people who feel ready to progress their hip thrusts. I begin with just the bar (or a light pre-loaded barbell that many gyms have) and allow the person to get used to the feel of a bar across their hips. I always use a bar pad like THIS (affiliate link), but if you're a badass, you can go without.

3. Barbell Glute Bridge: The reason I have this after the BB Hip Thrust is simply because it's easier to get into position for the Hip Thrust than for the BB Glute Bridge. I wait until the person has the ability to Glute Bridge with the full sized plates on the bar so it can easily roll into place without lifting it into position. Then, typically, I program heavy glute bridges one time a week, and moderate but higher rep hip thrusts one time a week. 

4. Dumbbell or Band Single Leg Hip Thrust or Foot-Elevated Glute Bridge: Dumbbells are better than Kettlebells because the size and shape doesn't interfere as much with hip flexion. I have this variation after the Barbell options because of the instability coupled with the load. Typically I will program at least one workout with a double leg variation (if loaded is possible) and one workout with a single leg variation (loaded if possible). The reps and tempo will often vary to maximize the growth stressors for the glute muscles. 

That's about it for my loaded hip thrust progression series. Please feel free to reach out if you need help designing a program or know which option would be best for you. 

Wrapping Up


Finally, remember:

  • Hip extension GOOD, Lumbar extension NOT-SO-GOOD.
  • Master the body weight variations before adding weight (especially single leg and loaded).
  • At least master the double leg hip thrust before attempting single leg.
  • When you can perform 2-3 sets x 12 reps with consistently good form, you are ready to progress.
  • Ribcage and abs should stay flush.
  • Experiment with foot position: maybe try pushing more though your heels or through the whole foot, maybe try a staggered stance, or narrower stance... there are loads of ways to vary things.
  • Think Glutes, Glutes, Glutes - this actually really helps!
  • Don't be too proud to regress!!


I really hope I have provided you with adequate information to allow solid form and proper progression of this exercise.  I call it a "Glute Journey" because you will literally see the results within a few short weeks, so long as you include one of these exercises in your workouts 2-3 times per week.


Grow Your Glutes Program 

Get Glutes (2.0) is my 8-week Glute-Specialization Program that has every you need to build your glutes at home or the gym (I've provided 3 versions of each workout: one lower load option, a higher load option, and an interval training option with a follow-along video). Basically 3 programs in 1.

===> GET GLUTES 2.0 <===

Photo of Marianne Kane's butt from a side view (with URL for GetGlutes.com


For any further information, feedback or, if you think I have left anything out, then please feel free to comment below.  I hope this article and the videos are helpful.

Cheers

Marianne


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  1. Hello Marianne,
    I wish to build up my glutes (bigger, rounder, etc.), but I do not have access to a gym and can only do home workouts. I do plan to get an actual barbell, but for now, is this how I am to start my training? There are so many glute building plans out there that it gets confusing, but I do know that hip thrusts are apparently amazing and is this how I should build up to them? Sorry for sounding like a total fitness noob πŸ™‚

    1. I am a devotee to lunges and squats. I use weights when I do these at times. Doing lunges and squats regularly have been far more successful for me and my body as compared to other techniques. Everyone is individual – explore all the options out there and choose one that works for you. xo

    2. Hi Michelle,

      You can do these exercises with body weight only and in addition to your other lower body exercises. Remember that the Glute Bridge and Hip Thrust work the muscles in a different way, but also you can change things up by the resistance, volume and variation of the exercises themselves.

      Some people, like Tiffy, experience the Glute hypertrophy *they want* from squats and lunges; other people don’t. Note that this is very subjective. Tiffy suggests exploring *all* the options and choosing *one* that works for you, but this approach isn’t realistic because neither can you try all options (better to begin with ones which research has supported as superior to other ways of training Glutes) nor should you only choose one… better to use a variety of movements and programming to get optimal results *for you*. Everyone is individual, but not in the sense where we are so different that we need totally different tools to get the results we want. That is ultimately why I wrote this article to show a variety of stages and options to getting the most from this exercise. And this is even before you begin to experiment with loading it in different ways.

      Most of the people who come to me for Glute training (and many clients on Get Glutes) had tried squats and lunges and they had not got the results they wanted. Sometimes, this is actually a technique issue with those exercises, sometimes it is a programming issue, but many times it is that they need a totally new stimulus and loading on the Glutes. That is where loading Hip Extension can make a difference.

  2. Marianne,
    I enjoyed your article, but I feel it was lacking the way many other glute bridge articles do. The cues for these exercises are so completely different from coach to coach. In some places you mention “thinking glutes” in other places you mention “squeezing glutes” I’ve also heard just think push through heels, push through heels and lift hips, lift hips but don’t push through heels, don’t push through heels and just squeeze glutes, squeeze glutes and push through heels but don’t lift hips… and on and on… for those who have working glutes I think they translate almost any of these above cues into the correct action, so my question is, what is the correct cue?

    Thanks for your post, very informative stuff!

    1. Phil, great question. To be honest, the answer differs from depending on the client. So the best cue (for that person) is the cue that they understand. Often I will describe the same exercise in different ways to the same person and something will “click” with *them*. While “think glutes” works for me, I would not be a good trainer if all I used were the cues that I responded to when i first learned.

      The “pushing through the heels”, or not, will depend on the exercise and the client’s experience/awareness etc. It may seem very confusing for some to hear all these different cues, but in my experience, very few are wrong, they just might seem that way if left not clarified to the trainee wanting to use them.

      Hope that helps πŸ™‚

  3. Hi! I just found your website and love it. Thank you for sharing your expertise and your passion. You are inspiring!

    On a side not, what sort of shoes are you wearing in this video! I love them!

    Thanks!

  4. I wish I could get Bret to train me. I have my hip thrust up to 285lbs and I still do not have any glute development.

        1. Okay, try mixing it up a bit and start going heavier with lower reps. Add a Iso-hold or don’t let the bar touch the floor between reps, putting the glutes under constant tension – change things up and you’ll see some change πŸ™‚

          1. How long did it take before you started seeing results? Also, what is your heaviest hip thrust and bridge?

          2. Congratulations! I saw a video on youtube where you did a set of 12, two sets of 8, a set of 5, and a set of 2. Is this your normal rep and set range?

          3. No, normally I choose a weight that I can do 12 – 15 reps and do 3 sets. Or, on a different day, I will choose a weight I can do 5-6 reps and do 3 sets and then a lighter “bonus” set with 12- 15 reps to kill it and the end πŸ˜‰

            In choosing a weight for 5 reps – your 5th rep should still be good form. So you should technically be able to do 6 or 7 with that weight before your form goes. That way, you have a safety net and will know each rep will count and give you full benefit, because your form is still good.

    1. This is something you need to really focus on to know what your body is actually doing, and might even benefit from having someone film you so you can see what’s happening.Often times we think we are doing something correctly, but we ain’t. You can also feel your low back at the top and feel if the pelvis has sunken down or if the glutes are tight at the top. Go to a point where you feel the front of your hips tighten and no further … that is generally you end range. Over time, this range will naturally increase.

  5. Hi Marianne,
    Loved your tutorial on glute bridge progression to hip thrusts. I am trying to build my glutes so this is great info. Today did 3 sets of each progression of glute bridges. WOW that was a workout in itself. How often should I do these and when should I progress to weighted hip thrusts? I train legs 2x/week and am going to dedicate one of those days to glutes/hams focus. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hey Gina,

      You can do them say 3 times per week. You can tell you’re ready to progress the weight/variation when you can perform 3 sets of 12 – 15 reps with relative ease and good form.

      I currently do bridges and hip thrusts twice a week, but I have done them more in the past. So whatever works best for you at this time πŸ™‚

  6. Nice post, especially the tip about flattening the back on the floor. When I first started thrusting I felt it entirely in my low back. But I figured out that if I didn’t want to get into extention I should flex my back and lock that first and try and keep that position all the way though.

    This really helps but because of my posture I just cannot get as far up as most people do on the hip thrust so I stop short otherwise I use my low back to finish the movement.

    1. Thanks Dush for the feedback. I think that initial flattening is a very helpful cue for everyone. It also helps people engage their abs properly.

      Cheers!

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  8. Fantastic post. Well put together information and demonstrations. Thank you so much for all your hard work and for sharing it with all of us. And congratulations on your achievements over the past 2 years – well earned and noteworthy.
    I use many of these corrective and strengthening techniques with my clients, and I can vouch for their effectiveness as well. πŸ™‚

  9. ok i have a question, two questions actually, one i always thought if you legs only were elevated that was good, so first ? first step after floor raises, is elevated shoulders? Also once i progress to both benches, which one should be slightly higher, the shoulder bench or foot bench? does this make sense?

    1. For your first question – you can elevate the feet first too, but this will get the hamstrings more. The shoulder elevation gets the glutes more. You can mix it up if you need both πŸ™‚

      Next, Both benches can be the same, or shoulders slightly higher. If the feet are higher, then you are going to be activating the hamstrings more again, if that makes sense?

      Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  10. Thank you, Marianne. I had been looking for a progression just like this, because as a fitness beginner I am not able to start with weighted hip thursts, but I really want to work my way up to those. This is perfect!

  11. Pingback: Bret Contreras » Weighted Bridging and Beautiful Badasses
  12. Hi Marianna

    I have been following your website for a while now. And I must admit you inspired me to cancel my ridiculously high gym membership, falling in love with kettlebels and buy some.

    Currently I am working on my glute activation and noticed that my left ‘cheek’ is lazier than my right one. How would you balance it? Should I do more reps/sets for my left cheek.

    Also when I do glute bridges, I tend to wobble when lowering. Any suggestions?

    Thanks for your time and great website.

    1. Hey Slavka,

      Ah the love of the Kettlebell, music to my ears πŸ˜‰

      Firstly I would not recommend doing more reps on the weaker side, or less reps on the stronger side. The left cheek amy just need a little extra time to “catch on”. I would start with that side during any activation drills and ensure the hip flexors are well warmed up and stretched too (both sides). Really focus your mind on that glute and practice throughout the day trying to clench each side individually. It sounds silly, but it will constantly reinforce that mind-muscle link and awareness.

      My left glute was very sleepy for ages and honesty I think KB Swings helped them a lot. Now, it is the inclusion of glute bridges that have helped.

      When you say you wobble, are you doing single leg glute bridges or bilateral? If you are wobbling with bilateral, then I guess you could take a slightly wider stance with your feet and place your arms out on the floor to provide more of a base for stability, until your glutes get stronger and can stabilise you better. It could be this imbalance that is causing the wobble. But practice makes perfect, so don’t give up πŸ™‚

  13. Love this post. I have been using the hip thrust a lot in my worokouts lately and yes as you say it has made a big difference.
    It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but now I find that it is really effective in strengthening the glutes. I actually really enjoy this exercise and I will be adding weights soon.
    The tutorial is very helpful to remind me of keeping my form.
    Thanks a gain to you and Bret for introducing this one to me.

    Cheers

  14. Great job Marianne!

    Squirrel, the method you described is not ideal for spinal stability or hip extension strength. However, I believe it can be done for spinal mobility purposes and even spinal segmental motor control, however spinal stability (and pelvic stability) and of course glute strength are paramount for preventing low back pain. The method you described uses the spinal erectors as prime movers with the glutes playing a lesser role as a prime mover. Most individuals need to learn how to stabilize their spine especially during challenging hip movements. The low abs will work with the glutes in the method you mentioned to posteriorly rotate the pelvis, and if the lower abs are drawn in (hollowed) then the TVA will be activated. The TVA issue has implications for low back pain sufferers but for normal folks this is not an issue as their TVA’s work fine (and the TVA doesn’t do much for stability anyway, and it gets worked during normal movement in its normal manners).

    So when doing Pilates, do it in the manner they suggest (but don’t believe everything that Pilates and Yoga instructors say as most aren’t aware of the research), but if performing bridging movements for the purpose of functional strength or hypertrophy, then perform them with a stiff core (which by the way requires decent erector spinae activation but not much abdominal coactivation, indicating that learning this pattern is due to motor control in the lumbopelvic region and especially increasing glute activation), and move mostly at the hips and not the spine.

  15. Marianne! This is great. I cannot wait to try these glute moves now with some of your tips and guidelines.
    I have done yoga for quite a few years, so I am used to bridging -but not elevated bridging or hip thrusting. Looking forward to new glutes! LOL.
    I am actually lucky enough to teach a class at my local gym called Kettle-Yoga. We do 45 min of KB’s followed by 45 min of yoga. I might just have to sneak in some of this glute work once I get to know it better myself.
    Your site is the BEST. Thanks so much!

  16. Hi everyone,

    I know the glute bridge from my pilates classes, where it is called basic bridging.
    I tried to find a video that explaines it properly, but as I couldn’t, I’m trying to describe, how our trainer explaines it to us. I find this very useful for the correct form.

    When you lay on the floor, let’s call it in the starting position, you feel that there is a little space between the floor and your lower back, just above the pelvis, which is the neutral position of the spine.
    Now breathe out, engage your core muscles and press your lower back into the mat, starting from the upper end of that little space and imagine to do this vertebral body by vertebral body. It’s just a little movement and doing it step by step slows it down, but improves your form a lot.
    Imagine not to pull the spine down to the mat, but to push it from the top with your core muscles.
    After you finished this movement, don’t just lift up the whole pelvis as one, but do the movement the same way: Roll the spine up step by step, vertebral body by vertebral body, this time starting from the lower end of your back.

    To get back to the starting position, just reverse the movement. Don’t just drop your hips, but roll the spine down slowly, starting from the upper end, hold your lower back pressed into the mat for the moment when your hips touch the ground again, and then release the lower back to the neutral position with the little space between back and mat again.

    I hope this is not to confusing? πŸ™‚ If you learn to pay attention to every single part of your spine and work it in the correct way, it helps you to avoid damages even in the advanced exercise, the hip thrust. And it has the side effect, that you work your core muscle as well if you focus on that little movement that presses your lower back into the mat πŸ˜‰

    Cheers!

    1. Indeed Squirrel, this is very helpful πŸ™‚ The core control as you describe is important but I also want to instruct people to use their glutes, as these are one of the main muscles in stabilising the spine and the hips. But you are right to point out the role of the rectus abdominis and the Tranverse Abdominal Muscles in this exercise too, thank you πŸ˜€

      1. Hi Marianne,

        so to sum things up, in order to engage the core muscles AND of course the glutes as well, the ideal thing would be to include Squirrel’s technique as well but to mainly focus on the glutes in the “second” part of the movement (which means “think glutes” when you actually start lifting the hips from the floor).

        I hope my question is sufficiently clear, in terms of language.

        Thanks (I knew I’d come up with another question).

        Bianca

        1. Correct πŸ™‚ It’s like I demonstrated in my “How to Tighten the Core” post. Tighten and brace the front and squeeze the glutes. It all helps achieve the same thing, stability. Using the glutes to extend and then hyper-extend the hips from these progressing ROMs, and then weights will build up glute strength and improve their shape.

          I knew you would too πŸ˜‰

      2. Thank you Marianne, I too found this little tidbit of information to be extremely useful — keeping the back flat through the entire movement requires that you activate the glutes and helps prevent injury to the lower back.

        Squirrel’s description is about bridges, which I do a lot of in yoga — they are designed to improve flexibility of the spine, they are a mild beginner back bend, arching the back in the opposite direction we usually go, and they are a mild inversion. They are not designed to activate the glutes as most practitioners (in yoga at least) say NOT to tighten the glutes… making them a quad exercise. Since we use our quads in lieu of our glutes too often, and become imbalanced as a result, it is good to find some way to isolate the glutes and ensure they are what you are working.

        Another example of this is with a rear lunge, where you can be using more glute or more quad, depending on what you are tightening and which foot you concentrate on pressing into the ground.

        Thanks again

        ~ Gillian

        1. Thanks Gillian.For a little tidbit of info, I sure know how to drag it out LOL

          I agree about the bridging, this post was intending to focus on using the glutes as a prime mover, and emphasise hip extension into hyper-extension, which cannot be achieved just using the methods from pilates. In actual fact, I believe that, if people focused on their glutes in exercises, they would have more stable “cores”.

          Thanks for this extra information πŸ™‚

          1. I like this discussion πŸ˜‰ of course the hyperextension cannot be achieved by just using the pilates method. I started this classes to get rid of the pain in my neck and shoulders – the glute work is up to what I learned here and Bret’s publications πŸ˜‰ but I think this method helps to slow down the exercise, think about what to do when and prevent injuries in the back. I don’t see this exercises in a intervall training – right?

            Gillian, is it possible that there is a difference between yoga and pilates? We of course focus on the core, as with almost all exercises, but the bridging position is the starting position for leg lifts, which get the glutes working (and our trainer always tells us to focus on core AND glutes in that exercise).

          2. I think if you have a high level of skill at the hip thrust, they can be varied to use a more explosive variation, much like you can do with other exercises. Obviously the weight would be lighter. For this reason you could have them in interval training, but maybe longer intervals, so it’s not “sprint” training style tabata or the like, but maybe 45 seconds. I started including the Alternating single-leg Hip Thrusts in some intervals, and it worked quite well. But I still would prefer to use the set reps and progressive overload on these.

            Just did my first weight Glute Bridges in the gym today, they were GREAT! Got to 90kg x 5 reps. My butt was BUMPED!! haha it looked like a shelf after πŸ˜‰

        2. Hi Gillian (aka Gryerpedia),

          could you please explain how to use the glute or the quad more in the rear lunge?

          Thanks
          Bianca

  17. Hi Marianne,

    I have just watched the videos and read the article and I do have to say that you have done a great job with this long-awaited and very much appreciated tutorial. Thank-you so much for it! (and of course thanks to Bret for sharing all the knowledge regarding this exercise).

    I found your advice to squeeze the lower back against the floor before starting the hip thrust a very useful one. I am going to try it and see if I can master the correct movement better. And thanks for explaining the progression so clearly and for the glute activation drill video as well!

    The Italian Inquisition is definitely satisfied. At least for the moment.

    Cheers
    Bianca

    1. Hey Bianca!

      Thanks for your feedback. I am glad this satisfies the Italian and, hopefully her trainer!
      I just hope I haven’t left anything out. Of course you are welcome to ask any other questions πŸ˜€

      Cheer
      Marianne

      Happy Hip Thrusting πŸ˜›

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