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Hip Thrust Machine Alternatives | Must Knows

The hip thrust is a popular exercise targeting the glutes and hamstrings, contributing to a stronger posterior chain.

Although effective, there might be instances where you're looking for alternatives to this exercise.

Whether it's due to limited gym equipment or seeking variety in your workout, exploring hip thrust alternatives can be an excellent way to keep your fitness journey engaging and efficient.

The hip thrust can be performed on a glute thrust machine, with barbells, free weights, smith machines, and other creative ways.

There are also alternative exercises to the hip thrust that accomplish the same goal of targeting and growing the glutes.

Lets break this down...

Hip thrust alternatives with the title, and three options of variations to the hip thrust that are common

Understanding Hip Thrusts

Benefits of Hip Thrusts

Hip thrusts are a popular exercise for developing strong glutes, hamstrings, and overall lower body strength. They are highly effective for improving athletic performance, functional movement, and providing additional support to the lower back. Some benefits of hip thrusts include:

  • Glute activation: Hip thrusts target the gluteal muscles more effectively than other lower body exercises such as squats and lunges.
  • Improved posture: Strengthening the glutes helps to maintain an upright posture, reducing the risk of chronic back pain and muscle imbalances.
  • Enhanced athletic performance: Strong glutes contribute to increased speed, power, and overall athletic ability.

Read More: Hip Thrust Benefits

Hip Thrust Muscles Worked

The primary muscles worked during the hip thrust exercise are:

  1. Gluteus maximus: The main muscle targeted, responsible for hip extension and lower body power.
  2. Hamstrings: These muscles assist the glutes in hip extension and knee flexion.
  3. Lower back (erector spinae): Engaged for postural support and stability.

Read More: Hip Thrust Muscles Worked

Although hip thrusts provide a variety of benefits, there may be situations where an alternative exercise is needed or preferred.

This could be due to equipment availability, personal preference, or a need to diversify a workout routine. Below are some hip thrust alternatives that can still effectively target the glutes and hamstrings:

  • Romanian Deadlift: This popular exercise targets the hamstrings as well as the glutes and lower back.
  • Single-leg Romanian Deadlift: A unilateral variation that challenges balance and individual leg strength.
  • Kettlebell Swing: A dynamic movement that engages the entire posterior chain, including glutes and hamstrings.
  • Good Mornings: A barbell-focused movement that emphasizes the hamstrings and lower back, while still engaging the glutes.
  • Reverse Hyperextension: A lower back and glute strengthening exercise that can be performed on a specialized bench.
  • 45-Degree Back Extension: This exercise targets the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, and can be performed on a 45-degree bench.

Incorporating these hip thrust exercise alternatives into your routine ensures continued progress and variety, while still effectively targeting the muscles essential for lower body strength and stability.

Hip Thrust Exercise Variations

In this section, we will discuss four different hip thrust exercise variations that can provide a well-rounded workout for your glutes and lower body.

These variations include: the Hip Thrust Machine, Barbell Hip Thrust, Smith Machine Hip Thrust, and Dumbbell/Kettlebell Hip Thrust.

Hip Thrust Machine

The Hip Thrust Machine is a specialized piece of equipment designed for performing hip thrusts. This machine allows users to perform the movement in a controlled manner and provides a stable platform to target the glutes effectively.

To perform a hip thrust on the machine:

  1. Adjust the seat and back pad to the appropriate height.
  2. Sit on the machine with your back against the pad and your feet flat on the ground.
  3. Place the loaded weight across your hips.
  4. Brace your core and push through your heels to extend your hips upward.
  5. Lower your hips back down and repeat the exercise.

Benefits: The Hip Thrust Machine provides a stable platform for performing hip thrusts and allows for precise load adjustments.

Barbell Hip Thrust

The Barbell Hip Thrust is a popular variation that uses a barbell to add resistance to the movement.

To perform the Barbell Hip Thrust:

  1. Set up a bench or padded surface behind you.
  2. Place a barbell across your hips, using a bar pad or towel to cushion the weight.
  3. Sit on the ground with your back against the bench and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  4. Brace your core, push through your heels, and lift your hips upward, keeping the barbell in place.
  5. Lower your hips back down and repeat the exercise.

Benefits: The Barbell Hip Thrust allows for progressive overload and targets the glutes more directly than other variations.

Smith Machine Hip Thrust

The Smith Machine Hip Thrust is a variation that utilizes a Smith Machine to provide a controlled movement and stable platform.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Set up a bench or padded surface behind you.
  2. Position the loaded bar on the Smith Machine so it rests just above your hips when seated.
  3. Sit on the ground with your back against the bench and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  4. Brace your core, and push through your heels to raise your hips upward, following the guided path of the Smith Machine.
  5. Lower your hips back down and repeat the exercise.

Benefits: The Smith Machine Hip Thrust offers stability and control, allowing users to focus on proper form and muscle engagement.

Dumbbell/Kettlebell Hip Thrust

The Dumbbell/Kettlebell Hip Thrust is a versatile variation that uses dumbbells or kettlebells as resistance.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Set up a bench or padded surface behind you.
  2. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell across your hips, ensuring it remains stable during the movement.
  3. Sit on the ground with your back against the bench and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  4. Brace your core, push through your heels, and lift your hips upward while maintaining the weight's position.
  5. Lower your hips back down and repeat the exercise.

Benefits: The Dumbbell/Kettlebell Hip Thrust is a versatile and accessible option for those who do not have access to specialized equipment or heavyweights. It also allows for unilateral training, targeting each glute individually.

Bodyweight Alternatives

When looking for hip thrust alternatives to do at home, bodyweight exercises can be highly effective in achieving similar benefits without the need for any additional equipment.

Two excellent bodyweight alternatives to hip thrusts are Glute Bridges and Single Leg Glute Bridges.

Glute Bridges

Glute bridges are a fantastic hip thrust alternative to be done at home. This simple yet effective exercise targets the glutes, helps stabilize the pelvic region, and improves lower body strength without causing any stress on the lower back.

To perform a glute bridge, follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
  2. Place your arms at your sides with palms facing down.
  3. Pushing through your heels, lift your hips off the floor towards the ceiling by contracting your glutes.
  4. Hold the top position briefly, maintaining a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  5. Slowly lower your hips back down to the floor and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Single Leg Glute Bridges

A more challenging variation of the glute bridge is the single leg glute bridge. This exercise isolates one glute at a time, increasing the intensity of the exercise and building additional strength and stability.

To perform a single leg glute bridge, follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
  2. Place your arms at your sides with palms facing down.
  3. Extend one leg straight out, keeping the foot flexed.
  4. Pushing through the heel of the planted foot, lift your hips off the floor towards the ceiling by contracting your glutes.
  5. Hold the top position briefly, maintaining a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  6. Slowly lower your hips back down to the floor and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  7. Switch legs and perform the same movement on the opposite side.

Both of these exercises can easily be performed at home and incorporated into your workout routine as a hip thrust alternative.

While they lack the added resistance of barbell hip thrusts, they still provide a challenging and effective workout for your glutes and lower body.

Machine Alternatives To The Hip Thrust

Glute Kickback Machine

The Glute Kickback Machine is a superb alternative to hip thrusts, specifically targeting the glutes and hamstrings. It's an ideal choice for isolating these muscle groups and enhancing muscle definition.

To effectively use the Glute Kickback Machine:

  1. Position yourself on the machine, typically by standing and placing the desired leg against the padded lever.
  2. Ensure your standing position is stable, with your hands gripping the machine's handles for support.
  3. Push back against the padded lever using the strength of your glutes and hamstrings.
  4. Extend your leg as far back as comfortably possible, focusing on squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
  5. Slowly return your leg to the starting position, maintaining control throughout the movement.
  6. Repeat the motion for the desired number of repetitions before switching to the other leg.

Adjust the machine's resistance to suit your fitness level. The Glute Kickback Machine is an effective way to strengthen and tone the posterior chain, providing a focused workout that complements other lower body exercises.

Leg Press

The Leg Press Machine is a popular machine-based hip thrust alternative that targets the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. This exercise can be performed on different types of leg press machines, including the horizontal, seated, and vertical leg press machines.

To perform the leg press effectively:

  1. Position yourself comfortably on the leg press machine, with your feet hip-width apart on the platform.
  2. Ensure your lower back is supported against the seat and your hands grasp the handles for stability.
  3. Slowly bend your knees and bring your thighs towards your chest.
  4. Press your feet into the platform, extending your legs, and engaging your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
  5. Return to the starting position by slowly bending your knees.

Ensure to maintain a smooth and controlled motion throughout the exercise. Adjust the weight on the machine according to your fitness level.

Cable Pull-Throughs

Cable Pull-Throughs are another effective machine-based hip thrust alternative that primarily targets the glutes and hamstrings. This exercise requires the use of a cable machine and a rope attachment. To perform cable pull-throughs:

  1. Attach the rope attachment to the lower setting of the cable machine and select an appropriate weight.
  2. Face away from the machine, standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  3. Grasp the rope between your legs with both hands, palms facing each other.
  4. Begin with a slight bend in your knees and hinge forward at your hips, keeping your back straight.
  5. Thrust your hips forward, engaging your glutes and hamstrings to pull the cable upwards until you're standing upright.
  6. Slowly return to the starting position by hinging at the hips and bending your knees.

The cable pull-through is an excellent alternative to hip thrusts that can be performed on a machine, focusing on both strength and stability of the lower body muscles.

Resistance Band Alternatives

Banded Frog Pumps

Banded Frog Pumps are a great alternative for those who want to target their glutes and hamstrings without using heavy weights. This exercise can be easily performed at home or in the gym. To execute banded frog pumps:

  1. Position yourself lying face up on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat.
  2. Place a resistance band around your thighs, just above the knees.
  3. Bring the soles of your feet together, and let your knees move outward, resembling a frog's legs.
  4. Press your hips upward, focusing on the tension in your glutes and hamstrings.
  5. Hold the top position briefly, then slowly lower back down to the starting position.

Perform 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions for optimal results.

Tip: Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise to support your lower back.

Banded Walks

Banded Walks, also known as Monster Walks, are another effective way to build glute and hip strength using a resistance band. They can be performed both laterally and linearly, focusing on the gluteus medius for hip stability. To perform Banded Walks:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and place a resistance band around your ankles or above your knees.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and engage your core for stability.
  3. Step to the side with one foot, maintaining tension in the band and keeping your toes pointing forward.
  4. Follow with the other foot to return to the starting position, always maintaining tension throughout the exercise.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then switch to the opposite direction.

For a more challenging variation, try linear Banded Walks:

  1. Begin in the same starting position as the lateral walk, with the resistance band around your ankles or above the knees.
  2. Step forward diagonally, maintaining tension in the band and keeping your knees aligned with your toes.
  3. Bring the trailing foot forward to the starting position, again keeping tension in the band.
  4. Continue for the desired number of repetitions, then switch to the opposite foot leading.

Incorporate both Banded Frog Pumps and Banded Walks in your workout routine for a comprehensive banded hip thrust alternative that targets different areas of the glutes and hips.

Alternative Movements

When looking for alternatives to hip thrusts, it's important to find movements that effectively target the glutes and posterior chain. Here are two excellent alternatives: Step-Ups, and Romanian Deadlifts.

Step-Ups

Step-Ups are a great alternative for hip thrusts as they effectively target the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. To perform Step-Ups, follow these instructions:

  1. Stand in front of a sturdy bench or box that is approximately knee-height.
  2. Place your right foot on the bench, ensuring your entire foot is stable.
  3. Press through your right heel to lift your body onto the bench.
  4. Slowly lower your left foot back to the ground.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps, then switch to the other leg.

Tip: To increase the intensity of this exercise, add weights by holding a dumbbell in each hand or wearing a weighted vest.

Romanian Deadlifts

Another effective hip thrust alternative is the Romanian Deadlift (RDL). This exercise targets the posterior chain, engaging the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Follow these steps to perform a proper RDL:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a barbell in front of your thighs with an overhand grip.
  3. Keep your knees slightly bent and maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
  4. Hinge at the hips, lowering the barbell down the front of your legs.
  5. When you feel a stretch in the hamstrings, push your hips forward and return to the starting position.

Variations: The RDL can also be performed with dumbbells, kettlebells, or a single leg for added challenge.

By incorporating these two exercises into your workout routine, you can effectively replace hip thrusts and still achieve strong and toned glutes. Both Step-Ups and Romanian Deadlifts offer a neutral, clear, and knowledgeable approach to targeting the posterior chain, making them ideal alternatives for hip thrusts.

Programming Alternatives in Workouts

Workout Integration

Integrating hip thrust alternatives into your workouts can be both beneficial and refreshing. Some popular alternatives for hip thrusts include Romanian Deadlift, Kettlebell Swing, Glute Bridge, Reverse Hyperextension, Step-up, and Cable Pull-Through. When planning a workout, it's crucial to consider exercise variety and muscle balance. Here's a sample lower body workout plan:

  1. Warm-up: Light cardio and dynamic stretching
  2. Compound Movement: Squats or Deadlifts
  3. Hip Thrust Alternative: Choose one of the following:
    • Romanian Deadlift
    • Kettlebell Swing
    • Glute Bridge
  4. Accessory Movement: Leg Curl or Leg Extension
  5. Core Exercise: Plank or Russian Twist
  6. Cooldown: Static stretching and foam rolling

Progressive Overload

Achieving progressive overload with hip thrust alternatives is essential for building strength and muscle. To ensure continuous progress, implement at least one of the following methods:

  • Increase the weight of the exercise
  • Increase the number of sets or repetitions
  • Decrease the rest time between sets
  • Increase the time under tension (e.g., slow down repetitions)
  • Improve exercise technique or range of motion
  • Periodically rotate hip thrust alternatives to introduce new stimulus

Keep track of your workouts, monitor your progress, and adjust accordingly to sustain improvement. Incorporating hip thrust alternatives can be an effective way to target and strengthen the glutes while providing some variety to your lower body workout routines.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where should I put my feet for targeting the glutes?

To effectively target the glutes on the hip thrust, foot position is quite important.

Ensure your feet are flat on the ground and slightly turned outwards.

Adjust the distance between your feet and your body based on individual comfort and flexibility. Maintaining proper foot placement will help you effectively engage and activate the glutes during hip thrust variations and other glute exercises.

Why does the belt hurt on the hip thrust machine?

If you experience discomfort or bruising while doing a hip thrust, it may be due to improper hip thrust machine belt placement or not using a pad on the barbell or smith machine.

To alleviate discomfort, try adjusting the positioning of the belt so that it rests on your hips rather than digging into your waist or lower back. Additionally, consider using a padded lifting belt or adding cushioning material to minimize any discomfort during the exercise.

What exercises can I perform instead of hip thrusts for glute development?

Below are some effective alternatives for hip thrusts that also target glute development:

  1. Romanian Deadlift
  2. Single-leg Romanian Deadlift
  3. Kettlebell Swing
  4. Good Mornings
  5. Reverse Hyperextension
  6. 45-degree Back Extensions
  7. High Reverse Plank

These exercises provide a well-rounded approach to glute training and help improve overall leg and hip strength, stability, and balance.

How can I mimic a hip thrust movement without using a barbell?

You can perform hip thrusts without a barbell by using a variety of equipment, such as resistance bands, dumbbells, or kettlebells. Resistance band hip thrusts can be done by placing the band around your hips and anchoring it to a sturdy post behind you. For dumbbell or kettlebell hip thrusts, simply hold the weight across your hips as you perform the exercise.

Is there an alternative to the hip thrust machine for targeting the same muscles?

Yes, many alternatives to the hip thrust machine can effectively target the same muscles. Exercises like glute bridges, 45-degree back extensions, and reverse hyperextensions are excellent alternatives that focus on the glutes and posterior chain without the need for a specialized machine.

Can glute bridges effectively replace hip thrusts in a workout routine?

Glute bridges can be a suitable alternative to hip thrusts in many cases. They effectively target the glutes, and like hip thrusts, can be performed with various forms of resistance such as bodyweight, dumbbells, or resistance bands. Although glute bridges may not offer the same level of glute engagement as hip thrusts, they can still be a valuable part of your workout routine.

What are some ways to perform hip thrusts using only dumbbells?

To perform a dumbbell hip thrust, place a dumbbell horizontally across your hips, holding it securely with both hands. Position yourself with your upper back resting against a stable platform, such as a bench or step. Start with your hips lowered, then drive them upwards by contracting your glutes. Slowly lower your hips back down to complete the movement. Various other hip thrust alternatives, such as single-leg variations or frog pumps, can also incorporate dumbbells as resistance.

How do cable pull-throughs compare to hip thrusts for strengthening the posterior chain?

Cable pull-throughs are another exercise that targets the glutes and posterior chain and can be a good complement or alternative to hip thrusts. Although the two exercises share similarities in movement patterns and muscle recruitment, cable pull-throughs tend to place a greater emphasis on the hamstrings, while hip thrusts more directly engage the glutes. Including both exercises in your training program can help ensure well-rounded development of your posterior chain muscles.

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About The Author

Matt Gemkow, the author of this content section at Select Fitness USA, boasts more than 15 years of fitness experience. He started out in sports and athletic training for many years and has since 2014 transitioned into heavy-weight training and bodybuilding. As a result, he has become one of the most experienced fitness equipment experts out there, and a valuable source of information.