Hip thrusts are a typical resistance training exercise. You can use these hip thrust variations to spice up your workouts and target slightly different muscles.
Hip thrust can be a great exercise to isolate your glute (butt) muscles. There are small and big adjustments you can make to this exercise to focus on slightly different muscles and fitness components.
These hip thrust variations are not always that much more effective for training your glute muscles but in any case, they can definitely make your workouts more fun.
Some of the exercises below focus on one side of your glutes at a time. In these cases, you should not forget to do the same duration or number of repetitions on each side to avoid muscle imbalances.
1. Regular bodyweight hip thrust
Before going into the more advanced variation, it is important to remember how a good bodyweight hip thrust is done.
For this, and most of the other types of hip thrusts, you need some form of hip thrust equipment to put your upper body against/on. A weight bench is a typical choice but in theory, you could also use something like a plyo box.
Once you have that, to do a hip thrust take the following steps:
- Set up the object so that it is stable, even if you lean sideways against it.
- Sit right in front of the bench or other object you will use with your back slightly over the edge. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width in a position where your knees will be at a 90-degree angle in the next step.
- Move up your hips until your body is in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Slowly lower your body again.
This first exercise is mostly to get used to the right technique. The glutes are strong muscles that generally need some extra resistance to train in significant amounts.
2. Weighted hip thrust
Weighted hip thrusts are the variation that allows you to challenge your glute muscles enough for significant muscle growth and strength progress.
This “variation” is basically a large category of extra weights you can put on your hips. A barbell with a barbell pad is the most typical example since it is relatively comfortable and convenient to load with a lot of weight.
Another similar option that can work great too is a smith machine. Again, a barbell pad can offer a lot of extra comfort.
Other fitness equipment options like a dumbbell, medicine ball, kettlebells, resistance bands, sandbags, etc. can also be used at home or in the gym but these will generally be less comfortable and less effective.
While weighted hip thrusts are a separate option, you likely need to add weights to the other variations on the list for significant muscle growth and strength progress.
3. One-legged hip thrust
The name of the next option explains the movement well. One-legged hip thrusts are simply hip thrusts where you use only one leg. This is slightly more challenging for your balance but it can be helpful in a few situations.
First of all, not everyone has a barbell with weight plates available at all times. This can be because you are working out at home but also because the gym is crowded or for any other reason.
In that case, doing hip thrusts with one leg at a time can help you achieve enough resistance to make the exercise challenging enough on your glutes. This is because only one side of the two is working.
One-legged hip thrusts can also be helpful for resolving any muscle imbalances in your glutes. If one side is weaker than the other you can train this side harder to achieve a balance again.
Something to remember is that one-legged hip thrusts can also potentially create muscle imbalances. Make sure you train each side the same amount.
4. Hip thrust machine
Hip thrusts are such a popular exercise that they have their own machines. These vary in forms and sizes but inevitably have the essential components.
These essential components include something to lean on with your back, something to put your feet on, and a way to put extra resistance on your hips. Exactly how to use each machine will vary from model to model.
The main difference with something like barbell hip thrusts is that you don’t have to worry about balance as much. Some hip thrust machines also make it so you go through a fixed range of motion.
This can be both beneficial in the sense that it becomes easier to focus on your glute muscles with heavy weights and a downside because you engage the muscles responsible for balancing a lot less.
Whether the hip thrust machine is the best variation for you ultimately depends on things like your personal situation, training goals, and the equipment you have available.
5. Glute bridge
It is also possible to do the hip thrust motion with your upper body resting on the ground. This is called a glute bridge.
In general, a larger range of motion for your muscles, like in standard hip thrusts, is more helpful for muscle growth and strength progress.
That being said, sometimes you don’t have a suited object or the time available to do hip thrusts. In that case, glute bridges may be the solution.
Similar to hip thrusts you can put some form of resistance on your hips and/or do the exercise on one leg at a time to make glute bridges more challenging.
6. Frog hip thrust
Frog hip thrusts, also known as frog pumps, are more of a glute bridge variation in the sense that they require you to lean on the ground instead of a weight bench.
That being said, due to the glute activation and hip movements frog hip thrusts definitely deserve a spot on this list.
To do the actual exercise you start lying down on your back with the soles of your feet against each other. Put your feet on the ground as close to your body as comfortable.
After that, raise your hips in a controlled motion until your body is in more or less of a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
By switching up the position of your legs, frog hip thrusts tend to focus more on your glutes.
7. B stance hip thrust
B stance hip thrusts, also known as staggered stance hip thrusts, are a variation where you put one foot slightly more forward than the other. The side of the foot closest to your body tends to do the most work.
You can do B stance hip thrusts to resolve any muscle imbalances or if you have a personal preference for this variation.
One potential downside is that it is hard to make the hip thrusts on each side equally hard. Unless you have any visual cues, your feet are likely not apart from each other the same distance on each side.
8. Mini band hip thrust
For this next exercise you need a resistance band. A mini band works great but you can also just loop a regular resistance band multiple times around your legs.
To do a mini band hip thrust you get into the same position as a regular hip thrust. The only difference is that you loop a resistance band around your upper legs close to your knees.
The resistance band should be tense enough so you have to exert some outward force with your hips to keep your knees in the same line as your feet.
At the top of that hip thrust movement you can do an extra hip abduction, a controlled outward and back movement with your knees.
This variation engages your hip abductor, outer thigh muscles more. These muscles include your gluteus minimus and medius.
9. Hip thrust with medicine ball between knees
The name of this next hip thrust variation again gives it away. This exercise is similar to a regular hip thrust but you clamp a medicine ball between your upper legs.
This offers some isometric, static, engagement of your inner thigh muscles.
You could also use a weight plate in a similar way. In that case, you likely want to move your feet closer together to keep them flat on the ground.
10. Exercise ball hip thrust
An exercise ball, also known as a stability or yoga ball, is a soft elastic ball. You can use this piece of fitness equipment to do more unique exercise ball exercises or to modify existing exercises like the hip thrust.
Doing hip thrusts with your upper body on the exercise ball is not the most useful variation out there for training your glute muscles.
You get a little more core muscle training and more balance training but at the same time, it becomes harder to add weights to the exercise. This is often a must for significant changes in glute muscle mass and strength.
11. Bosu Ball hip thrust
Bosu Balls are a different piece of fitness equipment. You can describe these as the top of a stability ball attached to a flat surface.
Similar to exercise balls you can use Bosu Balls both to do unique exercises or modify others like the hip thrust.
Bosu Ball hip thrusts are typically done with the flat part of the ball on the floor and the round part below your shoulders.
Compared to hip thrusts with something like a weight bench, a Bosu Ball offers a smaller range of motion but more comfort and more core muscle engagement. So for optimal glute muscle growth, regular hip thrusts tend to be better.
If you plan to do this exercise with extra weights, keep the Bosu Ball weight limits in mind.
12. Kneeling hip thrust
For this next exercise you need either resistance bands or a cable machine with something like a rope attachment.
The most ideal set-up for kneeling hip thrusts is a resistance band anchored horizontally between something like a power rack. This way you don’t need to hold the resistance with your hands and you can hold the power rack for balance.
Even so, you can also make something work with a single resistance band anchor or cable machine.
In both of these situations, you want the resistance anchored/held behind your hips in a way that it pulls your butt back. To do a kneeling hip thrust you sit on your knees and push your hips forward with the help of your glute muscles.
If you only have resistance bands or a cable machine available, kneeling hip thrusts could be the best way to isolate your glutes.
On the other hand, if you have the equipment to do regular hip thrusts with enough resistance this will likely be easier to isolate your glutes.
13. Isometric hold hip thrust
The next hip thrust variation comes down to holding your position for an extended period of time at the top of the hip thrust motion.
In general, doing exercises in an isotonic, dynamic, way is more beneficial than in an isometric, static, way.
Even so, isometric hold hip thrusts can be helpful for strengthening the muscles involved if folding your knees and hips is currently uncomfortable or painful to you.
14. Standing hip thrust
Standing hip thrusts, also known as pull-throughs, work similarly as kneeling hip thrust but as the name implies, while standing up. For this variation, you also again need a cable machine or resistance band.
This exercise is not ideal for isolating and training your glute muscles as much as possible. First of all, it can be challenging to stay balanced when hip thrusting heavy weights.
Secondly, for many of the possible standing hip thrusts, you need to hold the resistance in your hand which is in turn anchored behind your hips.
The potential problem with this is that your grip muscles may fatigue faster than your glutes. This is generally not helpful for training these muscles.
15. Chaos hip thrust
For chaos hip thrusts you need a strong resistance band and two anchors to put the resistance band horizontally.
To do the exercise you then put your feet on the resistance band and do a hip thrust. You can lean with your shoulders both on the ground and on an elevated surface.
Chaos hip thrusts are generally done to train balance and coordination. Additionally, all the stabilizing you need to do engages your muscles in a relatively unique way.
A downside of this variation is that you can’t really add any weights to the exercise in a convenient way. To really train your glute muscles as much as possible this is generally not helpful.