Today I’m going to talk about your backside.
To be the best athlete you can be, you can’t forget about the backside of your body. Your glutes are the largest muscle group in your body, and that makes them incredibly important when it comes to performance.
It’s easy to focus on the muscles that you see in the mirror, but if you forget about your bum, it can lead to tight hip flexors, sore knees, poor movement mechanics, and – most importantly – you won’t be able to fill out a pair of jeans.
One of the best exercises for your glutes is something you can easily do at home or at the gym: dumbbell hip thrusts.
Make sure you read this blog post all the way to the end because you’re about to discover the benefits, muscles worked, and how to perfectly perform this awesome exercise.
Table of Contents
- 3 Main Benefits of Dumbbell Hip Thrusts for Bodybuilding
- Dumbbell Hip Thrusts Muscles Worked
- What Dumbbells Should I Use?
- How to Setup for the Hip Thrust
- Practice with the Bodyweight Hip Thrust on a Bench
- How to Do the Dumbbell Hip Thrust on a Bench
- Dumbbell Hip Thrust Alternatives
- Final Thoughts
3 Main Benefits of Dumbbell Hip Thrusts for Bodybuilding
Dumbbell hip thrusts are a really awesome exercises and here’s why:
- Hip thrusts will help improve other movements like squats and deadlifts. Your glutes are important to performing squats and deadlifts which are common exercises in most bodybuilding programs.
- You can use the hip thrust as a main lift to build strength and a killer posterior chain.
- You can also use this movement as an assistance exercise to finish up a taxing lower-body workout.
Dumbbell Hip Thrusts Muscles Worked
This exercise is all about the glutes, making it the holy grail of building a perfect butt. This multi-compound lift is just as effective as a traditional squat, deadlift, or barbell back squat for your glute muscles to become strong and powerful.
Your glutes are three muscles located on the back of your hip bones and help to create the shape of your lower body. These muscles include:
- Gluteus maximus is the largest of the three glute muscles. It sits on top of the others and is closest to the skin. It also covers the entire distance of the back of your hip.
- Gluteus medius is directly under the gluteus maximus.
- Gluteus minimus is the bottom layer and the deepest of the three muscles.
Knowing where the glute muscles are – and what movements they do – will help you understand how to make them bigger through exercise. These muscles go from the very top of your hip bone, down to the uppermost part of your leg, and they also go from the very outside edge of your hip bones, right to the center of your butt.
What Dumbbells Should I Use?
If you’re doing hip thrusts at the gym, you can use any standard dumbbell to perform this exercise as long as the weight is management. But what if you don’t have access to a gym?
Before I even recommend anything, I know that shopping for dumbbells can be a pain in the butt for a few reasons:
- You have to get more than one pair if you want to increase the resistance over time
- You have to find a place to store them
- Dumbbells can be expensive
With these problems in mind, we recommend the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells. Since they’re an adjustable set, you won’t have multiple sets laying around your house tripping you up on the way to the bathroom. Also, the cool block design allows them to be stored inside each other.
They also have great reviews compared to other adjustable dumbbells. Just click the button below to see the current price on Amazon.
How to Setup for the Hip Thrust
To setup your dumbbell hip thrust, you will need a bench that supports you just beneath your shoulder blades. You will need the bench to be low – about 12 to 14 inches off of the ground. If you don’t have the right bench, you can build one with step boxes and risers.
Make sure your bench is either secured to the ground or placed up against a wall so it doesn’t move while you are performing your hip thrusters. To be sure that your bench is the correct height, sit on the floor with the bench behind you to make sure the top of the bench touches right beneath your shoulder blades.
If you feel that you are sitting too low, you can grab a 25 lb or 45 lb weight plate to sit on, so you will be raised off the ground a few inches.
Practice with the Bodyweight Hip Thrust on a Bench
Before doing the movement with dumbbells, you want to start by practicing with your body weight.
- Begin with your back against the bench while seated on the ground, then tuck your chin, keep your chest and rib cage down, and look forward. By tucking your chin, keeping your chest and rib cage down, and looking forward, it will lower the chances that you will overextend and hurt your back.
- With your chin tucked, your chest rib cage down, and your eyes looking forward, draw your knees in and prop the upper half of your back onto the bench. At this point, you will want to experiment with feet placement. No matter if your stance is wide or narrow, you want to feel the movement in your glutes. So, place your feet where you feel the most impact at the top of your hip thrust.
- The top of the thrust is when your hips are fully extended, your knees are at 90 degrees, and your shins are vertical. Your toes can be pointing straight or at an angle. The hip thruster is actually a very individualized movement, and what works best for one person, might not be right for another.
- When it comes down to it, you want to feel it in your glutes as much as possible, not your thighs or your back. So, experiment with it to find the position that will give you maximum muscle activation in your glutes. If you are having trouble, consider placing a small resistance band around your knees. This will force you to engage your glutes while pushing your knees out against the resistance.
Once you have that nailed down, practice the movement a few times by raising and lowering your hips in a controlled movement, while focusing on the posterior pelvic tilt.
How to Do the Dumbbell Hip Thrust on a Bench
When you are comfortable with body weight hip thrusts, it’s time to add the dumbbells.
The mechanics are exactly the same, the only difference being that you are holding a dumbbell on your pelvic bone. It might feel tight at the bottom of the movement, but that’s pretty normal.
- Sit against the bench with the top hitting just underneath your shoulder blades
- Hold your weight on your pelvic bone
- Place your feet at a distance that will result in your knees being at a 90 degree angle and shins vertical at the top of the movement
- Focus your eyes at a point in front of you, tuck your chin, keep your chest and rib cage down, and use your glutes to raise the bottom half of your body. Squeeze those glutes while lifting your hips and pressing your heels into the floor
- As you extend your hips, roll the dumbbell slightly forward and off of your hip bones to eliminate irritation and to get full range of motion. Lower yourself back down, this is one rep.
Since you are limited with dumbbells on the amount of weight you can use with this movement, you should focus on doing a slow, controlled movement with a high number of reps. Also, if placing the dumbbell on your hip bones is too uncomfortable, consider placing a small folded gym mat or towel underneath the dumbbell to relieve the discomfort.
Dumbbell Hip Thrust Alternatives
The dumbbell hip thrust is a great exercise by itself, but you don’t have to stop there. Here are a few popular variations of this movement to change emphasis and target slightly different muscle groups in your booty sculpting workout.
Kettlebell Hip Thrust
The kettlebell hip thrust is going to be the same setup and motion as the dumbbell version, but you’ll be holding a kettlebell instead of a dumbbell.
If you’re doing these at home, we recommend picking up a set of Rogue Kettlebells since they’re smooth cast iron for a very secure grip and they’re very well balanced so they won’t throw you off during the thrust.
Premium cast-iron weights with comfortable grip.
- Rest the kettlebell between your thigh and waist
- Secure the kettlebell in place using both hands on the grip
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent
- Slowly thrust your hips up until your knees create a 90-degree angle
- Return back to starting position
Single Leg Dumbbell Hip Thrust
The single leg dumbbell hip thrust is almost just like the regular dumbbell hip thrust except… you only use one leg! Imagine that. This exercise is going to work all the same muscle groups, but will increase the intensity since each leg will be isolated.
Follow the same steps as the standard hip thrust, but take note of these additional tips.
- Keep the elevated leg completely straight with your knee unbent
- Rest the dumbbell between your thigh and waist over the leg planted on the floor
- Secure the dumbbell in place using the hand opposite of your elevated leg
- Use your free hand to grab the edge of the bench and stabilize your body
Floor Dumbbell Hip Thrust (AKA Glute Bridge)
This variation completely removes the bench from the exercise which helps if you can’t secure a bench for your workout. You’ll still need a dumbbell to perform this movement however.
Here’s how to do it:
- Lie down on the floor with your knees bent and feet close to your butt (sit-up position)
- Secure a dumbbell in the middle of your pelvis with both hands
- Keeping your abs tight and your glutes flexed, push your hips up until your waist is completely unhinged and straight
- Lower yourself slowly and controlled back to the floor
Barbell Hip Thrust
The barbell hip thrust can be done on the floor or with a bench, but primary difference is you’re using a barbell (weighted or not) instead of a dumbbell for added resistance.
Here are important tips to perform this hip thrust variation safely:
- Never load the barbell with more weight than you can handle. Always start with zero weight to adjust to the movement first.
- Secure the barbell in place across your pelvis with both hands
- Use slow and controlled movements to make sure the barbell doesn’t roll towards your neck or face
As you can see, the dumbbell hip thrust is a great exercise for building your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Just make sure you perform the movement slowly in a controlled manner on a friction-less surface so your legs and all equipment remain stable.
And again, if you want to perform dumbbell hip thrusts at home, you’re going to need a reliable pair of dumbbells.
We recommend the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells on Amazon!
- They’re made by one of the most trusted fitness brands in the world
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