Barbell Glute Bridge vs Hip Thrust: Is There a Difference?
Many individuals who train their glutes focus primarily upon two types of exercises: squats and deadlifts. In spite of the fact that these lifts activate a significant amount of gluteal mass, they can still fail to fully stimulate all regions of the glutes.
While other exercises remain extremely important for continued gluteal development, there is an additional group of exercises that have become popular over the past few years. These exercises are known as hip extension-based movements and they include a number of variations such as glute bridges, hip thrusts, kickstands, 45-degree hypers, reverse hypers, etc.
This handy article takes a deeper look at the barbell glute bridge vs the hip thrust to help you figure out which is right for you. Keep reading to learn more.
Barbell Glute Bridge
What is a Barbell Glute Bridge?
A Barbell Glute Bridge is a movement in which you lie on the floor with legs bent, push your hips upward towards the ceiling, squeeze the glutes and push into the floor with your feet, while using a barbell for added weight. The goal of this movement is to effectively activate and work the glutes
Barbell Glute Bridge Benefits
The Barbell Glute Bridge is a great compound movement that can help to increase glute size and strength. Since many beginners struggle to engage their glutes properly, and feel the exercise more in the quads or hamstrings, it is best to start off with bodyweight only. Progress to using a barbell only when you can properly engage your glute muscles to do the majority of the work.
One tip for those who feel the exercise primarily in their quads is to raise the toes off the floor, so you are pressing through your heels. Another tip is to do more reps, e.g. 20-30 reps per set, and to hold the squeeze at the top of the movement for a second or two, to give the glutes time to engage forcefully.
How to Perform a Barbell Glute Bridge Correctly
- Lay flat on your back and roll a barbell over your legs. Let it rest comfortably where your hips bend. Grip the barbell comfortably just over hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees 90 degrees, so they point up to the ceiling, with your feet flat on the floor.
- Push your lower back into the ground so that your pelvis tilts slightly upward – imagine your pelvis is a bowl of soup and you are tipping it towards your chest!
- Squeeze your hip crease off the ground, driving your hips upward while you hold the barbell. Your shoulders and head should remain flat on the floor. Your knees should stay pointing upwards, your body forming a straight line from your shoulders to your hips.
- Squeeze your glutes and hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly release back to the floor.
- Move your body slowly in and out of this position for up to 10 reps, depending on your strength, stamina, and the barbell weight.
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What is a Hip Thrust?
A bent-leg hip thrust exercise is performed lying with your back on an elevated surface. The hip thrust is a favourite of lifters everywhere due to its ability to target the posterior chain — especially the glutes — and increase strength in a unique way.
Hip Thrust Benefits
The hip thrust offers you an opportunity to really work your glutes, providing a greater range of movement than the glute bridge. The position offers reduced back support, which means the stabilisation muscles within the trunk will be working overtime. This will improve glute activation, plus increase strength in the hamstrings and allow other muscles to work harder during the movement.
How to Perform a Barbell Hip Thrust
- Set up with your upper back against an elevated surface (like a bench or a box) with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- The bench should hit just below your shoulder blades, and your feet should be about shoulder-width apart. You can rest your elbows on the bench.
- Keeping your chin tucked, push through your heels until your thighs reach parallel to the floor — your legs should form a 90-degree angle.
- Squeeze your glutes at the top, then return to start.
- If you’re a beginner, aim for 3 sets of 12 reps, working your way up to 20 using body weight.
Barbell Glute Bridge vs Hip Thrusts: What are the Key Differences?
One difference between the barbell glute bridge and the hip thrust is the starting position. The barbell glute bridge is usually performed with shoulders on the floor, whereas hip thrusts are performed with the shoulders on a bench or other elevated surface.
Both the glute bridge and the hip thrust are great glute exercises, but the hip thrust may be a more effective exercise to gain muscle mass and glute gains. Though both barbell glute bridges and hip thrusts are great hip flexors, hip thrusts provide a greater range of movement, allowing for optimal hip extension compared to other exercises.
Though both the glute bridge and the hip thrust can be modified to suit different fitness and difficulty levels, because of the bench or elevated surface, more weight can usually be added to a barbell hip thrust. This can increase the difficulty of the exercise, as well as put more pressure on the knees, hips and upper back. To ensure you are working your muscles effectively, using the correct form and avoiding injury, we recommend working with an expert personal trainer.
A hip thrust requires an elevated surface, such as a bench or soft plyo box, therefore requiring slightly more equipment than the basic barbell glute bridge. Also, if you do not have access to barbells or would like to decrease the difficulty level to suit your needs, both of the exercises can be performed in different variations without a barbell too.
Both of the two glute exercises target the glute muscles, however, barbell hip thrust exercises may put slightly more pressure on the hips and upper back due to the fact that the lower back is unsupported. The hip thrust can create deeper glute activation and muscle growth but require more risk-assessment and precise form to prevent injuries.
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Barbell Glute Bridge vs Hip Thrust: Other Glute Exercises
There are many variations of glute bridges and hip thrusts out there. If you are looking to challenge yourself further, you could try some of these variations:
- Single-Leg Glute Bridge
- Elevated Glute Bridge
- Swiss Ball Hip Thrusts
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