Hip Thrusts vs. Deadlifts: Which One Is a Better Glute Exercise? Leave a comment


The hip thrust is a more effective butt exercise because it keeps the glutes under tension the entire time.

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Sir Mix-a-Lot might have sung about big butts, but we also want a strong butt. That’s where hip thrusts and deadlifts come in. These power-producing butt exercises work your backside like no other. But when you’re comparing which move puts your glutes in the driver’s seat, the hip thrust has the advantage.

Hip thrusts force your glutes to be mostly responsible for lifting weight from the ground up (your quads ​do​ help a little). And while deadlifts definitely deserve a spot in your lower-body workouts, they also recruit your hamstrings, back and abdominal muscles in addition to your glutes.

Here are a few more compelling reasons hip thrusts are the MVP of your butt workout.

The Downsides of Deadlifts

Deadlifts are important for nailing the hip hinge, which is essential for everyday functional movements. For example, when you lift something heavy off the floor, whether it’s a large bag of laundry, a heavy box or your kid, you’re basically doing a deadlift.

“Deadlifts are a great compound lift but have a much greater risk for injury than the barbell hip thrust [due to poor form],” Wes Beans, a NASM-certified personal trainer at TS Fitness, tells LIVESTRONG.com.

“If not done properly, the deadlift can lead to potential lower-back injuries. Because the weight is out in front of you, it requires a lot of core strength and stability to be able to lift the weight,” Beans says. “If there is a slightest imperfection in form, it can be felt in the lower back.”

Proper deadlift technique requires stability in all three regions of your spine: lumbar (lower), thoracic (middle and upper) and cervical (neck), but most of the muscle force for the exercise comes from the hips and lumbar spine, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). So to reduce the load on your spine, you need to brace your obliques (side abs) and transverse abdominis (deep core muscles).

Deadlifts also demand quite a bit of grip strength, which can be a limiting factor if you don’t have it, Beans says. After all, you can only lift as much weight as you can hold.

“It’s great to do deadlifts to help strengthen that grip, but you may not be able to lift as much weight compared to a hip thrust, where grip doesn’t play a factor,” he says.

Why You Should Do More Hip Thrusts

While deadlifts are a complex movement that demand lots of practice to master, hip thrusts are pretty straightforward. Plus, there’s a much lower risk of injury, as they don’t require the core and lower back muscles to carry as much weight during the movement.

“The barbell hip thrust is much easier on the lower back and isolates the glutes much more than the standard [barbell] deadlift,” Beans says. “You can get more bang for your buck with deadlifts as far as overall effectiveness on the body, but if you want to specifically target the glutes, the hip thrust is a great option.” Those factors also make it much more beginner-friendly.

When comparing the effectiveness of the barbell and hex bar (barbell with a hexagon shape in the middle where the lifter stands) deadlift with the hip thrust, the hip thrust was shown to provide the highest gluteus maximus activation, according to a March 2018 study in the ​Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research​.

Hip thrusts are essentially a glute bridge with your back elevated and an external load — most commonly a barbell, kettlebell or dumbbell. They specifically focus on generating force from the three glute muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus and gluteus medius, per the ACE. The barbell hip thrust also keeps the glutes under tension throughout the entire movement, which is better for muscle growth.

The other major benefit is that they’re done lying down, which can be a better option for those who have a knee or back issues that prevent them from doing standing exercises.

So, if you have goals of building a bigger butt or improving athletic performance, make hip thrusts a priority. Here’s how to do a barbell hip thrust correctly:

Barbell Hip Thrust

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Skill Level

All Levels


Activity

Barbell Workout


Body Part

Butt

  1. Sit on the ground with the bottom of your shoulder blades on the edge of an exercise bench, couch or box.
  2. Extend your legs out in front of you and roll a barbell up over your hips, placing a cushion, such as a pillow or rolled-up towel, underneath the bar for comfort.
  3. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground.
  4. Keeping your neck long and back neutral, press into your heels and raise your hips off the ground, lifting the barbell up. As you come up to a bridge, your shoulders should move onto the bench.
  5. Pause here for a moment, squeezing your glutes at the top. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to knees.
  6. Lower back down.

Tip

Keep your eyes focused on the wall that your toes are pointing toward at all times. If you look toward the ceiling, it’s easy to arch your lower back.

You should feel it primarily in your glutes. If you feel it in your hamstrings, bring your feet closer to your hips on the floor. If you feel it in your quads, move your feet farther away from your hips.

Try These 2 Hip Thrusts Variations for Stronger Glutes

Once you’ve mastered the barbell hip thrust, try these two variations to make the exercise more challenging.

  1. Sit on the ground with the bottom of your shoulder blades on the edge of a sturdy exercise bench, couch or box.
  2. Extend your legs out in front of you and roll a barbell up over your hips, placing a cushion, such as a pillow or rolled-up towel, underneath the bar for comfort.
  3. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground.
  4. Keeping your neck long and back neutral, press into your heels to raise your hips and the barbell off of the ground. At the same time, lift your right foot off the ground, bending the knee at 90 degrees. As you come up to a bridge, your shoulders should move onto the bench.
  5. Pause here for a moment, squeezing your glutes at the top. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to knees.
  6. Lower back down, keeping the right leg lifted.
  7. Complete all your reps on one side before switching to the other leg.

Tip

This hip thrust variation isolates the glutes even more and is a good way to build unilateral strength (aka single-leg strength), Beans says.

  1. Sit on the ground with the bottom of your shoulder blades on the edge of an exercise bench, couch or box.
  2. Extend your legs out in front of you and roll a barbell up over your hips, placing a cushion, such as a pillow or rolled-up towel, underneath the bar for comfort.
  3. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on another elevated surface of the same height, like a bench, step or box.
  4. Keeping your neck long and back neutral, press into your heels to raise your hips and the barbel off of the ground. As you bridge up, your shoulders should move onto the bench.
  5. Pause here for a moment, squeezing your glutes at the top. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to knees.
  6. Lower back down.

Tip

By having your shoulder blades and feet on an elevated surface, it allows for a little more range of motion, resulting in a more effective hip thrust, Beans says.



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