Barbell hip thrust: Getting the most from this exercise

Barbell hip thrust has certainly gained a lot of popularity in both the fitness and rehabilitation worlds in recent times. As an exercise is it of any benefit and if so why should you use it ?

What is a Barbell hip thrust ?

A barbell hip thrust is a lower-body strength training exercise defined by lifting your lower back and torso with your knees bent and your upper body resting on a bench.

With proper form, the barbell hip thrust works muscle groups across your entire lower body, particularly the gluteal muscles.

What muscle groups does the barbell hip thrust work ?

From the research it would appear that the barbell hip thrust is highly effective at developing the strength:

  • Glute max
  • Outer hamstring muscle : Biceps femoris
  • Outer  quad muscle :Vastus lateralis
  • Lumbar spine muscles : Erector spinae

So as we like to say you can get a lot of bang for your buck with this exercise.

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What are the benefits of the barbell hip thrust ?

Apart from strengthening the muscles listed above the barbell hip thrust has shown to be effective in the following scenarios:

  • Development of horizontal power and speed, so good for sprinters and jumpers or those that require sprinting in their sports.
  • Role in ACL rand sports rehabilitation due to integration of hip extensors, hamstrings and quads.
  • By moving the feet forwards you can increase the demand placed on the hamstrings if desired

Will the hip thrust exercise it aggravate my back ?

One of the concerns around the hip thrust is that it can aggravate back pain. If it is done correctly you shouldn’t really have a problem. If you do get back pain then you may be arching too much.

If anything if you maintain a good neutral spine and brace your abdominals you have another excellent core exercise combined with lower limb exercise.

So how should i do a barbell hip thrust ?


  • Stabilize the Upper Back on the Bench
  • Tilt pelvis into neutral position and brace abdominals
  • Press Through the Heels and Lift the Hips, imagine you are pushing the world away with your feet
  • Place Loaded Bar In Hip Crease
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Top tip to get more glute from your hip thrust

  • Try turning your feet slightly outwards, think about the 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock foot position, to make it even more work for your glutes.

In summary of the barbell hip thrust

They are a very effective exercise to strengthen the hips and  hamstrings with and without a barbell. Easy to do and can be used as a main or accessory exercise.  We use them with our runners , ACL  and knee rehab clients  as well as  our osteoporosis and rehab strength classes.  So they are are a very adaptable exercise across many rehab situations.

There is evidence that they are also effective in improving sprinting speed , so runners and field sport athletes can benefit from including it in their repertoire as well.

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References :’

Barbell Hip Thrust, Muscular Activation and Performance: A Systematic Review:  2019 Jun; 18(2): 198–206

Effects of a Six-Week Hip Thrust vs. Front Squat Resistance Training Program on Performance in Adolescent Males:  Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Volume 31, Number 4, April 2017, pp. 999-1008(10)

Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review:  2020 Mar; 19(1): 195–203

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