Hip Thrusts can be seen performed in most gyms nowadays. Yet, 10 years ago, the closest example you will have likely seen would've been a Glute Bridge when stumbling in to a Yoga class. The movement pattern itself is not entirely new, note the mention of the Glute Bridge, but the way in which we have come to incorporate it and perform it is. Prescribing it to his PT clients, US trainer Brett Contreras, AKA The Glute Guy, is largely attributed with the introduction of the Hip Thrust and its evolution to the way it is performed and used within the training of many. The Hip Thrust's rise in popularity fuelled by the aesthetics of having strong muscular buttocks and also the potential performance and mobility benefits.
For me, the Hip Thrust exercise is a peculiar one to incorporate. Peculiar in my own training, because I've always been a bit "bum heavy" in exercises such as Squats, therefore, glute activation and big buttocks is something I've never struggled with. In fact, it's been more the reverse; I'd deliberately choose training methods to downplay their activation when working other muscles, and still do. This does however help me appreciate the fashion of a well-developed (even exaggerated) bum that many women currently seek.
In the case of underdeveloped glutes and potential interrelated complaints, such as, tight hip flexors, tight hamstrings, lower back problems, anterior pelvic tilt, it makes sense to increase their activation and allow progressive overload. The same can be argued to maybe help improve knock-on performance during certain movement patterns, such as squats, sprinting, etc.
The biomechanics of a Hip Thrust mean that it's an exercise you can "go heavy" on. Personally, I find going heavy can lead to discomfort through the load, decreased muscle engagement, and failure to reach full hip extension. Using it as a complimentary exercise, I much rather a small load, perform in a controlled manner (so, much less of a "thrust"), and hold the mid-position static for a couple of seconds. A variation somewhere between a Hip Thrust and a Glute Bridge.
What I do express caution with is overtraining and allowing glute-specific training to dominate workouts...I'm aiming this at you, ladies. I believe the Hip Thrust exercise can be used far better to compliment a balanced training regime and other exercises, such as Squats, Deadlifts, and Lunges (or variations thereof), which I place more importance on.
The Hip Thrust is a great ancillary exercise to add to your training arsenal.
For more information on the exercise, you can find a wealth of information and video's at Bret Contreras website, here: Bret Conterars on the Hip Thrust exercise.
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I like this photo, as it helps to illustrate how fashions change with exercise/ shows of strength and physique aesthetics. I posted the photo on Facebook along with the text "That new barbell hip thrust exercise you've been doing...it's not so new ;)". The Glute Guy himself even commented on it, although he recognised the exercise for what it is straight away. The photo is of Arthur Saxon performing a Pullover and Press/ Push. It used to be a measure of strength...kind of what the bench press has become today. In my late teens, I can remember Bob (formerly of Bob's Gym) showing me this exercise. He showed me a lot of great stuff, but this exercise is one to forget...I'm really not a fan of it. Then again, I'm personally not a fan of regular Pullovers, compared to Stiff-Arm Pulldowns, or Bench Press, compared to Incline Dumbbell Press.
The assumed bridge in the photo, above, is not overly dissimilar to a modern-day powerlifting bench press. It's just interesting, as this start and mid-position is very much the same as a Glute Bridge. Although the weight is a little further up the torso, compared to a Barbell Hip Thrust, they will have likely performed something similar to a Hip Thrust to assume position. Assuming the bridge, and holding it, should've been the easiest element of such a lift, but it's still interesting to think. Had those performing the Pullover and Press as a show of strength, back in say the early 1900's, watched on as we perform Hip Thrusts, I wonder what they would've made of it :D
FIBO 2016 Update
I was asked by a nice American gentleman via email whether there were any videos of the ATX Glute Builder, it's a hip thrust bench and more. I replied advising that there was not, but I'd make one...and then sent him this a couple of days later. The ATX Glute Builder is available at The Gym Revolution.