Skip to content

Smith Machine Hip Thrust: How To Set Up, Pro Tips, & Benefits

 

Want a version of the barbell hip thrust that’s: 

- Easier to set up

- Less injury-prone 

- AND provides more stability? 


It’s time you bring that hip thrust on over to the Smith machine


A Smith machine hip thrust is a great hip thrust alternative that provides a little more support through the use of the Smith machine. 


I’ll explain how that happens later, but if you want to work your glutes, quads, and hamstrings while also avoiding potential injury–especially lower back injury–read on: this article’s for you. 


Smith Machine Hip Thrust for Lower Back Pain 

I suffered a back injury 3 years ago during a move. 


I had loads of dull, aching lower back pain that didn’t go away till I tried a few things. 


One of the ways I helped my lower back was by working with a personal trainer. It sounds counterintuitive but by actually building muscle and strength in my back, glutes, and hips–I was working against the injury I had. 



My personal trainer had lots of great knowledge about what exercises could help someone with a lower back injury and how to slowly and progressively add these exercises into a routine. 


Along the way, there were several exercises that worked. And some that didn’t. 


The barbell hip thrust is one of those exercises that DID NOT work for me. 


I tried it very willingly, and I found a few things: 


1) Setting up for a hip thrust was a workout in and of itself. It took SO LONG to find a barbell, load it with weight, add a bar pad, drag a box over…and then I still had to hip thrust after that. Phew! 


2) Not only that–but once I fought to get the whole thing set up and actually DID the damn hip thrust, it KILLED my lower back. Pretty immediately. 


I left the gym that day with TONS of lower back pain resurfacing as I texted my personal trainer to tell him I would not be trying the hip thrust again. 


If you’re in the “hating-hip-thrust camp” like me–then you might want to reconsider things. 


Because the hip thrust is an amazing exercise for your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. And if you’re worried about injury or inconvenience, there is a better alternative: the Smith machine hip thrust. 


Today I’ll cover: 


- Hip Thrust on Smith Machine: Muscles Worked 

- Smith Machine Hip Thrust Set Up & How To 

- 5 Benefits of the Smith Machine Hip Thrust

- Hip Thrust on Smith Machine: 9 Pro Tips 

- More Resources on Glute & Smith Machine Exercises 

- Hip Thrust on Smith Machine: FAQs

 

Hip Thrust on Smith Machine: Muscles Worked 

The Smith machine hip thrust is one of the most effective exercises out there for your: 

- Glutes 

- Quads

- Hamstrings 


And it even hits your: 

- Adductors 

- Core 

 

Smith Machine Hip Thrust Set Up & How To 

For Smith machine hip thrust set up and execution, it’s important to pay attention to the little details. So today, I’ll start with the basic steps–but be sure to check out the Pro Tips section below this one, so you can be sure to tick off all the boxes for perfect form. 


Smith Machine Hip Thrust Set Up

1) Find a Smith machine at a gym, and set the bar to knee height. Then, load it up with the desired amount of weight. 

smith machine hip thrust set up
2) Bring over a flat bench or box to the Smith machine that is also around knee height–and place it perpendicular to and just in front of the Smith machine.
 
smith machine hip thrust

 

3) Now, squeeze your body between the bench and the bar as you sit down. 

 

4) Rest your upper back against the bench, and check to see if–when you lift your hips up to the bar–it falls right on your hip crease. If not–adjust the position of the bench until the bar hits your hip crease.

 

5) Place your feet flat on the ground in a shoulder-width stance–bending your knees.

 

6) Place both hands on the bar–at either side of your hips in an overhand grip.

 

7) Lift your hips up to unhinge the bar from the Smith machine. 

 

smith machine hip thrust
8) Then, slowly lower your hips down. 

Smith Machine Hip Thrust Execution

1) Once you have the bar fully unhinged–use your glutes to drive the bar up toward the ceiling.

 

2) Hold for a slight pause at the top, squeezing your glutes. 

smith machine hip thrust
3) Then, lower your hips just above the floor.
 
smith machine hip thrust
4) Repeat for the desired amount of reps. 

 

Hip Thrust on Smith Machine: 9 Pro Tips

All right, let’s skip the small talk: you don’t just want to know the basic steps. You want to know how to maximize the glute activation and look like a pro while you perform a Smith machine hip thrust. 


Here are 9 pro tips to give you pristine form during the Smith machine hip thrust. 


Smith Machine Hip Thrust Pro Tip #1: Adjust That Bench 

I definitely would not recommend just plopping a bench in front of the Smith machine and grinding out those hip thrusts without checking the positioning. 


You’ll most likely need to adjust the bench a few times to ensure it’s in the right position. 


How can you know the bench is in the right position? 


Great question.


Once you squeeze yourself between the bench and the Smith machine bar–go ahead and thrust up your hips to the bar without unhinging it. Just a quick practice thrust. When you do this: 


  1. Adjust your feet, so your heels should be in line with your feet–your knees forming a 90-degree angle. 
  2. The bar should hit JUST at your hip creaseliterally where your hips crease when you bend at the hips. 

Smith Machine Hip Thrust Pro Tip #2: Use a Barbell Pad 

barbell pad for smith machine hip thrust

 

Especially because you’re using a Smith machine for this hip thrust, you may be able to load up some heavy weight for this exercise. 


If you’re going heavier with this, you’re gonna want a barbell pad to protect your hips from bruising under the bar. 


Most gyms provide barbell pads to use, but if your gym doesn’t do that, you can easily buy a barbell pad online. 


Smith Machine Hip Thrust Pro Tip #3: Foot Positioning 

Remember how I said you want a straight line from your heels to your knees at the top of the hip thrust? 


That’s true–if you want to target your glutes


But you can also easily adjust the foot positioning to bias different muscles. For example: 


- If you pull your feet closer to you–you’ll target your quads. 

- If you move your feet further out away from you–you’ll target your hamstrings


But remember–for glutes, which are the typical focus of the Smith machine hip thrust–you’ll want that 90-degree angle with your knees, and at the top of the hip thrust, there should be a straight line from your hips to your knees. 


Smith Machine Hip Thrust Pro Tip #4: Use Plates to Boost You Up 

If you’re a bit on the shorter side, and you’re struggling to get your hips up to the bar of the Smith machine–even at its lowest setting–you can use weight plates or a small, flat box underneath your back and your feet to boost you up closer to the bar. 


Smith Machine Hip Thrust Pro Tip #5: Hips and Knees Should Form a Straight Line 

At the top of the motion–when your hips are lifted up and those glutes are on fire–check your form! Or better yet, get a spotter or use a camera. 


Your body should form a straight line–all the way from your upper body to your hip and then your knee, similar to the picture below: 

smith machine hip thrust set up

If there's a slight bend, then this means you are not tilting your pelvis forward enough–OR it could also mean that you’re loading up that Smith machine with way too much weight, and it’s compromising your form.  


Smith Machine Hip Thrust Pro Tip #6: Get Your Hips Low Enough 

Lower those hips till they are just above the ground. If you’re keeping your hips higher at the bottom of the motion–this becomes more of a glute bridge instead of a hip thrust. 


Smith Machine Hip Thrust Pro Tip #7: Tuck Your Chin 

Sometimes during a hip thrust, people tend to look up and all around–and when you do this–it can actually lead to your core and back not getting enough support. 


When you tuck your chin during the motion, you set your back and core up for maximum stability! 


Smith Machine Hip Thrust Pro Tip #8: Brace Your Core 

Keeping a braced core during this motion is VERY IMPORTANT for lower back safety during the Smith machine hip thrust! 


Keep a flat, neutral spine and a braced core for maximum lower back injury prevention. 


Smith Machine Hip Thrust Pro Tip #9: Squeeze Those Glutes 

The Smith machine hip thrust is not a competition to see how far up you can drive the bar. And it doesn’t mean you’re working your glutes better if you’re going faster or higher with those hip thrusts. 


It’s all about that glute squeeze. And if you focus on those glutes, you’ll really feel it. 


Take a nice long pause at the top–and squeeze those glutes! 

 

5 Benefits of the Smith Machine Hip Thrust 

smith machine hip thrust

 

Now that you’ll look like a pro, let’s cover 5 reasons why the Smith machine hip thrust might be a better option for you than a regular barbell hip thrust! 

 

Smith Machine Hip Thrust Benefit #1: Easy Set-Up 

I already vented about this–but setting up for a barbell hip thrust is a ton of work. 


If you’re pressed for time at the gym–or just feeling like you don’t want the hassle of setting up for a barbell hip thrust–the Smith machine hip thrust is a much easier set-up option. 


Smith Machine Hip Thrust Benefit #2: Good for Beginners 

Adjusting to the feeling of a loaded-up barbell resting on your hips can be difficult for beginners at the gym, and it can feel like an unstable balancing act. 


The Smith machine takes out the extra task of balancing the barbell–making it a great choice for beginners to the hip thrust. 

 

Smith Machine Hip Thrust Benefit #3: More Bar Stability = Less Lower Back Injury

And going off of that, because of the extra stability, you really have a much better option for that lower back. 


If–like me–you’ve tried barbell hip thrusts, and it just didn’t work for you–you find yourself in a bind. 


Because ultimately, stronger hips and glutes protect us from lower back pain. But if you can’t complete the exercise to get you that glute strength, it feels like there’s no option for lower back strengthening. Frustrating, I know. 


So, if lower back health has been stopping you from building those glutes or other muscles, try the Smith machine hip thrust for a better, less-injury-prone option for the hip thrust. 


Smith Machine Hip Thrust Benefit #4: Great for Drop Sets 

If you’re quickly adjusting or lowering the weight on the bar for a drop set right after your previous set–then a Smith machine makes that process easier. 


Just hook the bar onto the machine, and adjust the weight on either side of the bar. No need to balance the bar on or off your hips when you need a quick weight adjustment for a drop set. 


Smith Machine Hip Thrust Benefit #5: Amazing Glute Activation

Hip thrusts are one of the best exercises for glute activation


And with the extra support of the Smith machine, you’ll be able to load more weight to really fire up those glutes during this exercise. 


More Resources on Glute & Smith Machine Exercises 

If you found this article helpful, check out some of our other great resources on glute exercises and other ways to use the Smith machine! 


Articles


“5 Best Smith Machine Back Workout Exercises”


“Smith Machine RDL: Everything You Need To Know”


“Kas Glute Bridge Tutorial - The New and Improved Hip Thrust"


“Glute Bridge vs Hip Thrust - Which One Is Better?”


Videos


Heavy Kas Glute Bridge - What it is and why you should do it


Banded Glute Bridge Exercise For Lighting Up The Glutes



Hip Thrust on Smith Machine: FAQs


Are Smith machine hip thrusts effective?

Yes, Smith machine hip thrusts are an extremely effective exercise for your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. And with the support of the Smith machine, you have more stability and less risk of injury.  



How to do glute bridges on a Smith machine?

Glute bridges on a Smith machine are very similar to a Smith machine hip thrust, but you’ll have less range of motion–not bringing your hips as low at the bottom of the exercise. 


Can you use Smith machine for glutes?

Yes, a Smith machine hip thrust is one of the best Smith machine exercises for glutes. 



What's the difference between glute bridge and hip thrust?

In a Smith machine hip thrust, you bring your hips all the way down. In a Smith machine glute bridge, you have less range of motion. 

Check out more info here in this article: “Glute Bridge vs Hip Thrust - Which One Is Better?”



Do hip thrusts make glutes bigger?

Yes, Smith machine hip thrusts can build major glute muscles–helping you get bigger glutes. 



Sources: 

 

[1] https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2021/03000/Barbell_Hip_Thrust_Exercise__Test_Retest.11.aspx?context=LatestArticles 


[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6544005/ 


[3] https://osf.io/preprints/sportrxiv/njhvf 

comment 1 comment

S
Sebastian Mason calendar_today

How I Saved My Marriage with Dr. Murugu’s Help” dr.makinidrmurugu@gmail.com

“I’m Sebastian Mason from CA, USA. My wife divorced me in 2022 and went back to her ex-husband. I felt heartbroken and didn’t know how to get her back. I tried everything I could through my close friends and family members but nothing worked out. So, I searched for help online on how I could get her back and found various testifiers of how Dr. Murugu has been faithful and helpful with his spells. I contacted him at dr.makinidrmurugu@gmail.com and explained my problem to him. He prepared a spell for me that brought back my wife within 72 hours after I contacted him. He assured me that nothing can break us apart again and till this moment, I have been full of joy with my wife. If you need help, you can contact him at dr.makinidrmurugu@gmail.com or dr.makinidrmurugu@yahoo.com or visit his website at https://www.drmuruguspellhome.com
or https://drmakinidrmurugu.blogspot.com. You can also reach him via WhatsApp at +90 534 069 3791.”

Leave a comment

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive emails every few days with back pain relief tips, testimonials, and resources