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12 Hip Thrust Alternatives For Sculpting A Strong Butt!

In the last few years, we have seen the fitness industry change for the better.  People are becoming more creative and technical with the exercises they choose and the way they're completing them. A recent exercise that has been growing in popularity is the hip thrust. The hip thrust has grown because its versatility and how well it isolates the glute muscles. Read on and find out why people are replacing the back squat with the hip thrust as their new go-to glute exercise.  


Hip Thrust Benefits:

hip thrust machine
  • Improved mobility and speed, great for athletic performance (increase in explosive power and range of motion in the hip region)
  • Increase in strength and size of glutes
  • Decreases risk of injury
  • Better posture and hip/lower back pain relief (having a bulletproof lower back is linked to having strong glutes)
  • Increase in overall stability (a strong posterior chain results in a stable core and overall lower body)
  • Gives the opportunity to overload weight while taking stress and pressure off your lower back
  • Versatile exercise with different variations and can be done anywhere (read below)


How To Complete The Standard Hip Thrust:

  1. To start the hip thrust, place your back against the edge of a box or bench just behind your shoulder blades.
  2. To ensure that your knees will be at 90 degrees as you reach the top of the thrust, space your feet so that they are between hip and shoulder width apart and distant enough from the bench.
  3. Grab your barbell or dumbbell and place it across your hips in a comfortable position (use a pad if the weight is unbearable)
  4. After getting into position, tighten your glutes and use them to lift your hips until your torso is parallel to the ground (Maintain a posterior tilt in your hips to assist keep your lower back from arching).
  5. Hold the position for a brief moment at the top of the thrust while squeezing your glutes.
  6. To complete the hip thrust bench, slowly bring yourself back to the ground while keeping your glutes engaged.
Hip thrust machine


Hip Thrust Bench Tips:

  • Emphasize squeezing at the top of the movement for maximum results.
  • Push your knees out when completing the exercise. This helps with stability and isolating the glute muscles.
  • Push through the heels of your feet for optimal explosiveness.
  • Brace core and keep a straight spine.

Hip Thrust Bench Muscles Worked: The hip thrust primarily works the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius while slightly targeting the quadriceps and hamstrings.

If you suffer from pain at top of buttock crack when sitting, this is a great exercise for strengthening and pain relief.  


Hip Thrust Variations And Hip Thrust Alternatives:

There are many different ways to complete the hip thrust exercise. Depending on how familiar you are with the hip thrust movement and what resources you have at your disposal, choosing the most suitable hip thrust is up to you. Read on to learn about three popular hip thrust variations as well as hip thrust alternatives below (hip thrust dumbbell, hip thrust machine, and smith machine hip thrust).

Hip Thrust Dumbbell: 

The first variation of the hip thrust is a great one for beginners or anyone that is new to the hip thrust exercise. The hip thrust dumbbell can be done on a bench, box, or anywhere that elevates your body at a comfortable height.  

hip thrust dumbbell

The hip thrust dumbbell is popular with lifters because of the convenience the dumbbell has versus the barbell. The hip thrust dumbbell variation is a much more comfortable and less time consuming alternative to completing the hip thrust exercise.  

The only down side of the hip thrust dumbbell exercise is the weight ceiling. Having the ability to load up hundreds of pounds is one of the beauties of the hip thrust exercise and a limited weight of dumbbells can effect that.  

The hip thrust dumbbell works all the same muscle groups and has all the same benefits as hip thrust bench. If you have access to a bench and dumbbells I seriously recommend trying this one out for yourself.

Hip Thrust Machine:

A more recent innovation to the hip thrust exercise is the hip thrust machine. Becoming more common in gyms, the hip thrust machine was crafted specifically for the hip thrust exercise. 

Hip thrust alternative machine  

The hip thrust machine involves a belt, band, or pad that mimics the weight of a barbell or dumbbell. This allows the lifter to focus more on the explosion and power of the movement versus the stability and form of managing the weight balancing on your hips. 

When completing a hip thrust with a barbell, setting up and removing the weight can feel like a chore. The hip thrust machine solves that problem with the strap as a replacement. The hip thrust machine is also typically equipped with handles to give its user maximum power.

Single Leg Hip Thrust:

The single leg hip thrust is a great hip thrust variation for further isolating the glute muscles. The single leg hip thrust is an elite exercise that will both increase mobility in the glute region while increasing the strength and stability to the muscles. The unilateral aspect of working one leg at a time will also offer injury prevention and help reduce any muscle imbalances you might have.

Hip Thrust Alternatives - Single leg hip thrust

Smith Machine Hip Thrust:

Another popular variation of the hip thrust is the smith machine hip thrust. A smith machine is made up of a barbell attached to rails which only guide vertical movement. A big reason the smith machine hip thrust is so popular is because of the restricted balance.

Similar to the hip thrust machine, the smith machine hip thrust allows you to focus on the weight and not the stabilization aspect. Additionally, it permits a wide range of motion and the kind of constant stress that gives the muscles a constant and complete exercise. The smith machine hip thrust is great for beginners and anyone who has a hard time balancing barbells. 


Hip Thrust Alternatives:

For some more awesome glute and hamstring exercises, here are some hip thrust alternative exercises.  

Kas Glute Bridge

When choosing the best hip thrust alternative, the glute bridge is at the top of the list. The main differences between the two movements is the time under tension and the intention behind the exercise. The Kas Glute Bridge is a slow and controlled exercise intended for building muscle and strength. The hip thrust exercise on the other hand is intended for fast activation and explosiveness. To find out more about what it is and why you should do it, check out this video on kas glute bridge.

  Hip thrust alternative - kas glute bridge

Reverse Hyper

Reverse Hyperextensions and Hyperextension Machine- The reverse hyper is a very beneficial movement that directly targets the glute muscles. The motion of swinging your legs back while tightening the glutes at the top is something you can't get with any other exercise. For a tutorial on how to complete this exercise, check out this video on the reverse hyper exercise

 hip thrust alternative - reverse hyper

Glute Ham Raise

The next hip thrust alternative is the Glute Ham Raise. With a bit more emphasis on the hamstrings, the glute ham raise does not require weight of any sort. The exercise is done by locking your legs into a machine and lowering your body down in a slow and controlled manner. The glute ham raise is more of an advanced movement but very beneficial to the glute and hamstring muscles.

  hip thrust alternative - glute ham raise

Good Morning Exercise

The Good Morning Exercise is an awesome hip thrust alternative to build the entire posterior chain. Similar to the deadlift, the good morning exercise isolates the lower body while not putting the lower back at a high risk of injury. Targeting the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, the good morning exercise is a great hip thrust alternative.

  hip thrust alternative - good morning exercise

Rack Pull

The Rack Pull is infamous for being an accessory movement to the deadlift. With a shorter range of motion throughout the lift, the rack pull mimics the last 50% of a deadlift. The last 50% primarily targets the low back and glutes (similar to the last 50% of a hip thrust). 

 hip thrust alternative - rack pull

Back Extension

The Back Extension is a great complimentary exercise to the hip thrust. With help from your glutes and hamstrings, the back extension exercise primarily works your erector spinae muscles. Strengthening your erector spinae muscles will have a positively direct impact on your glutes. 

Hip thrust alternative - back extension

Fire Hydrant Exercise

The Fire Hydrant Exercise is a less strenuous hip thrust alternative for targeting your outter glute muscles. A lot of these important muscles tend to get left weak and dormant. Not tending to these muscles can further result in tightness and a great deal of pain. These muscles also play a key role in keeping properly aligned hips, low back, and knees. A few other perks of the fire hydrant workout are; a rounder butt, it's easy to learn, and the exercise is easy on the joints. For an unreal glute pump, check out this video on the Fire Hydrant Exercise

 hip thrust alternative - fire hydrant exercise

B Stance Hip Thrust

B Stance Hip Thrust - The last hip thrust alternative is a variation to the hip thrust.  The only different between this exercise and a regular hip thrust is the staggered stance. The staggered stance allows for more stabilization and single leg explosion.

  hip thrust alternative - b stance hip thrust


    Hip Thrust Pain Relief:

    Developing tight and sore glutes is very common in todays world. Whether that be from sitting all day or overworking your glutes from too many hip thrusts, you need to break up your tight tissue and tension if you want to live pain free. (Also check out our page on butt massage!)

    In order to rid the glute muscle of painful trigger points and find relief, you must apply targeted deep tissue massage to the muscle. A deep, soothing deep tissue massage will release glute pain of its constant muscle tension and allow it to exist as a normal, non-pain-inducing muscle. A great tool for this is the QL ClawUsing the "Ql Claw", this process has never been easier.  Save yourself a trip to the chiropractor and relieve your tension today.
    Check out our testimonial page and hear how the QL Claw has help high level athletes and trainers.
    Another great way relieve hip pain is through glute stretches.  After you break down the tissue, lengthening the muscle is a great way to give back mobility and relieve pain.
    Hip Thrust Alternatives - QL Claw


     For more hip thrust alternatives, check out B-Stance RDL!



    [1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.


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