Barbell Hip Thrust Exercises

Want to increase your posterior chain strength and grow your glutes, use the barbell hip thrust exercise and other variations.

The barbell hip thrust exercise is becoming one of the most utilized exercises in any gym, and entirely so because it is beneficial for developing the posterior chain. In this article, I will go over, first, what is the posterior chain and second, show you my favorite variations of the barbell hip thrust exercise. These variations are written into a class here at Sand and Steel – Butts and Guts Class. This class’s focus is on increasing glute strength, which is apart of the posterior chain, and core strength and stability. It is on Mondays at 4pm.

Posterior Chain from
Posterior Chain from

What is the Posterior Chain?

The word posterior refers to the backside of your body, and chain refers to the fact that all muscles connect. The muscles that make up the posterior chain are vast and range from the base of the skull to the heels of the feet. For this article’s purpose, I will specifically list the muscles pertinent to the barbell hip thrust exercises: spinae erectors, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

Barbell Hip Thrust Exercises

I have picked my five personal favorite variations for the barbell hip thrust, along with the original hip thrust. Four exercises will be with a hip thrust bar, and two are for when you cannot use the equipment.

The Original: Barbell Hip Thrust

I begin with the original because you must first see where and how to start before transitioning to variations. From break down: 1. place the bar over the pelvic bone, 2. align the mid-scapula’s on the edge of the bench 3. position the feet straight and directly in front of the hips (about 6 inches) 4. tuck the chin to keep the head and spine in line and 6. brace the core by contracting the abs like about to be hit in the stomach. You will do the same when performing these exercises if you feel that your hamstrings are becoming more active than your glutes: first, bring your feet a little closer to your butt, and second, pinch your butt cheeks together to increase the tension.

Pause at the Top Hip Thrust Exercise

I perform a three-second pause at the top in this video, but it can be held from two to five seconds. I enjoy programing this exercise because it forces you to pay attention to achieving full hip extension instead of cheating the rep. As well, allowing the glutes to experience a more significant contraction during that time under tension.

Long Eccentric Barbell Hip Thrust

Here I am demonstrating a five-second eccentric hip thrust, but it can be anywhere between three to five seconds, in my opinion. When I move in the same direction as gravity, that is the eccentric portion of this lift. I love this variation because it helps increase time under tension, develop muscle control, and increase power. These factors are generated by slowing down the descent to the start position. Then rapidly firing my glutes to return me to full extensions.

Single-Leg Barbell Hip Thrust

If I had to pick, this would be my favorite variation. I see this as one of the most helpful for “real-world cross-over” from training to life. Any time you are walking or running, you spend more of this time on one leg than both. Moreover, the single-leg barbell hip thrust exercise is more for an advanced or higher athlete than a beginner. You need to know how to control your body before adding weight. An important note on the form is creating total body tension before lifting and maintaining it throughout the lift.

Glute Bridge

Need a variation of the barbell hip thrust when you do not have the equipment? Here you go, the glute bridge. The form only slightly differs because you are placing your entire upper body on the floor instead. Again, if you do not feel the glutes’ tension, make the same adjustments as the barbell hip thrust. If you want to increase the difficulty, lift your hands into the air.

Single Leg Glute Bridge

Now, here is the variation of the Single Leg Barbell Hip Thrust for beginners. Starting with this variation will help you learn and develop stability throughout your body before adding the barbell. I suggest taking your time to pay attention to how well you build total-body tension. Doing this will not only benefit you in these exercises but all your lifts.

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