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The glute bridge and the hip thrust are two of the most reliable exercises for building stronger or bigger butts.
The two exercises look very similar and may even deliver similar results, but are they the same, or are there any differences? How will each fare in our glute bridge vs. hip thrust debate? Read on the find out.
If one of your fitness or lifetime goals is to build stronger or bigger butts, then read on to find out which of the two exercises can help you to achieve your goals.
Glute bridge vs. hip thrust – how do they compare?
How do the movements involved in the two exercises compare? Do you make the same moves or do you perform them differently? Read on to find out
Glute bridge vs. hip thrust – the exercises
A glute bridge is a popular exercise that works your posterior chain or the back of your legs.
The glutes and hamstrings are two of the main muscles in the posterior chain.
A strong posterior chain can help strengthen your lower back and core muscles.
Glute bridge exercises can help improve your spinal column and posture. The movement consists of reclining on the floor and then raising your hips toward the ceiling.
The Glute Bridge Exercise – Steps to follow
- Lie on your back, ideally on an exercise mat
- Bend your knees and plant your feet flat on the floor. Ensure you keep your feet about a hip-width apart.
- Turn your toes and knees outward to 45 degrees.
- Extend your arms and place them by the sides of your body. Ensure you plant the inside of your palms on the mat.
- Push through your feet to generate enough energy and push up your hips. You should feel a strain in the outer parts of your thighs.
- Pause for a second or two, and squeeze your glutes very hard.
- Slowly lower to your starting position
The Hip thrust exercise
A hip thrust targets and builds your glutes and hamstrings. The exercise can also work your core, quads, and hip abductors.
Strengthening your glutes can help stabilize your pelvis, core, and lower body. Stronger glutes can help reduce the risk of many injuries, including lower back and knee pain.
The exercise involves resting your shoulders on an elevated platform, like a bench, and elevating and lowering your hips.
You will need a weight bench (or an elevated platform for the exercise.
Steps to follow
- Place your upper back and shoulders against a weight bench
- Bend your knees and plant your feet flat on the floor. Keep your feet about a hip-width apart
- Rest your elbows on the weight bench if you want
- Pushing through your heels, pull your hips and back upwards
- Keep lifting until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your legs and thighs must be at 90 degrees.
- Squeeze your glutes very hard at the top of the movement and slowly return to your starting position
From above, you do the same movements when performing the exercises. But you do the hip thrust with your shoulder blades on top of a weight bench or an elevated platform. On the other hand, you use the floor for the glute bridge exercises.
Generally, most fitness enthusiasts perform hip thrust as a loaded exercise with a barbell. Using a barbell enables you to target your hamstrings and gluteal muscles, helping to improve hip extension.
Thus, while you don’t need gym equipment for the glute bridges, you can use a barbell for the hip thrusters.
Both exercises target the same muscles. But inclining your body from the ground for the glute bridge allows you to target your quads much more than the hamstrings. The opposite happens with the hip thrust.
Both hip bridge and hip thrust are not challenging to master. You can do both as bodyweight exercises. But a barbell is necessary for hip thrust exercises to enable you to get the most out of it.
Thus, anyone can get into the glute bridge exercises, making it suitable for all fitness levels.
But hip thrust requires some glute strength to enable you to the barbell making it suitable for those at a certain fitness level. Thus, many newbies find hip thrust terrifying to get involved with
Thus you may have to start your journey with a glute bridge and progress to hip thrust after strengthening your core muscles.
Cost of Entry
The best thing about the glute bridge is it is a bodyweight exercise that requires no gym equipment. But the hip thrust requires a bench and some weight.
You can do the hip bridges anywhere and at any time. That is not the case with the hip thrust. You can do the hip thrust without weights, but you will need a weight bench or a raised surface to support your shoulders.
Thus, you can always start your glute-building journey with a hip bridge at zero cost and in the comfort of your living room, if you are a newbie.
Range of motion
Because you lie on the floor for the glute bridge, it acts as a barrier. Thus you can lift and lower your hips by so much. That reduces the range of motion and how well you can target the muscles.
But the hip thrust allows you to move your hips from full flexion to full extension. That makes it possible to work your glutes harder through a better range of motion.
Thus, you can view the hip thrust as an advanced form of the glute bridge with a broader range of motion.
Hip thrust allows you to use more weights. That makes it possible to target your glutes and hamstrings much more than you can with a glute bridge.
The angle of elevation for the hip thrust puts your glutes under continuous tension, promoting better muscle growth.
The hip thrust is a loaded exercise requiring a certain level of fitness.
Aside from a barbell, you can also use dumbbells, medicine balls, kettlebells, or any weighted object for the exercise.
The fitter you are, the more weight you can load and lift. That puts more tension on your muscles to help speed up your gains. A study in 2015 concluded that it is possible to recruit more muscle fibers in your glutes with a hip thrust than with squats.
But the glute bridge relies on your body weight. While you can increase the resistance with a resistance band, the level of strength development cannot match that of the hip thrust.
You can also attempt the exercise with a barbell. But many find it very awkward due to the position of the body. Thus it is better to avoid using a barbell for the movement. You may also have to increase the rep counts considerably to enable you to achieve your goals.
Thus many prefer to use the glute bridge as a warm-up bodyweight exercise to help activate the glutes before moving onto the more demanding hip thrusts
Glute bridge vs. hip thrust – Do you need both?
Variety is necessary when it comes to fitness and muscle building.
Thus while some may view glute bridges as very basic and ignore them, it may be a good idea to incorporate both into your training.
If your goal is to build your glutes, you can use the hip bridge as part of your warm-up and hip thrust as part of your strength training.
Glute bridges can help activate and wake up your glutes and hamstrings. Doing these before any demanding glutes exercises can help prevent lower back injury.
Glute bridges have a lower range of motion than hip thrusts. Thus, those with mobility issues and those who spend most of the day sitting may struggle with hip thrust. Combining the two exercises can be very beneficial in such situations.
You can start with the glute bridge if you have mobility issues and move onto the hip thrust with weights as they get more confident. That can help you get your hip flexors functioning well.
Final words from LiveLIfe
The glute bridge vs. hip thrust debate will always be an ongoing one. Recommending one over the other may not be easy or straightforward.
There are similarities and differences between the two exercises. Each has strengths and can help you meet your fitness goals. Ideally, you must utilize both at some point in your fitness journey.
Use the glute bridge as a warm-up exercise to wake up your glutes and hamstrings. That can help you with such demanding exercises as deadlifts.
The hip thrust can help build and strengthen your glutes and hamstrings. Thus, you can incorporate them into your strength training regimen.
If anything, utilize both exercises for variety. They may help you avoid hitting a plateau.
- Contreas B, et al. (2011). Barbell hip thrust.
- Bret Contreras, Andrew D Vigotsky, Brad J Schoenfeld, Chris Beardsley, John Cronin. 2015. A Comparison of Gluteus Maximus, Biceps Femoris, and Vastus Lateralis Electromyographic Activity in the Back Squat and Barbell Hip Thrust Exercises. National Library of Medicine. PMID: 26214739 DOI: 10.1123/jab.2014-0301
- McCall P. (2019). Understanding the barbell hip thrust. acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/certified/november-2019/7403/understanding-the-barbell-hip-thrust/
- Elevated glute bridge. (n.d.). acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/exercise-library/367/elevated-glute-bridge/