What is the difference between a glute bridge and a hip thrust?
Do you want to build bigger, stronger glutes, but aren’t sure which exercises to choose?
Have you been training your glutes without seeing as much progress as you would like?
Are you trying to decide between a glute bridge and a hip thrust but are unsure what the difference is between the two?
Here is everything you need to know about the glute bridge and the hip thrust, how to perform them correctly, and which one you should be doing to maximise your glute gains.
Table of Contents
- 1 Glute Bridge vs Hip Thrust
- 2 Pros and Cons of Glute Bridges and Hip Thrusts
- 3 When to do Glute Bridges and Hip Thrusts
- 4 Glute Bridge vs Hip Thrust – Muscles Used
- 5 Form Differences
- 6 Helpful Form Cues
- 7 Common Form Mistakes
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions About Hip Thrusts and Glute Bridges
- 9 Other Exercise Comparison Posts
- 9.1 Glute Ham Raise vs Nordic Curl: Differences and Benefits
- 9.2 Leg Press vs Hack Squat: Differences & Benefits
- 9.3 EZ Curl vs Straight Bar Curls: Differences, Pros, and Cons
- 9.4 Hammer Curls vs Bicep Curls: Which is Better?
- 9.5 Floor Press vs. Bench Press: Pros, Cons, and Differences
- 9.6 Barbell Row vs T-Bar Row: Differences, Pros, and Cons
- 9.7 Hack Squats vs. Back Squats: Pros and Cons
- 9.8 Lying Leg Curl vs Seated Leg Curl: Pros & Cons
- 9.9 Bench Press vs Chest Press: Pros and Cons
- 9.10 Tricep Extension vs Skull Crusher: Pros and Cons
- 9.11 Trap Bar Deadlift vs. Barbell Deadlift: Is One Better?
- 9.12 Preacher Curl vs Concentration Curl: Which is Better?
Glute Bridge vs Hip Thrust
Glute bridges and hip thrusts target similar muscle groups and follow a similar movement path. Their key differences will determine which is a better choice for you depending on your goals and access to equipment.
What is the difference between glute bridges and hip thrusts?
The main difference between a glute bridge and a hip thrust is that glute bridges are done with your upper back and shoulders on the ground and hip thrusts start from a seated position with the shoulders elevated on a bench. You can add weight to both exercises, but glute bridges tend to be performed using only bodyweight and hip thrusts use a barbell across the hips for extra resistance.
A glute bridge is typically done by lying on your back and squeezing your glutes to lift your hips towards the sky. This is most often performed as a bodyweight movement.
A hip thrust is usually done from a seated position, with your shoulder blades resting on a bench or a box and a barbell (or other weight) across the hips. You then squeeze your glutes and drive through your heels to lift your hips and the weight towards the ceiling.
Glute bridges are an accessible glute-strengthening exercise for beginners and those without access to equipment such as a barbell or a bench.
Hip thrusts involve a greater range of motion and can be progressed by increasing the weight lifted. Hip thrusts may be preferable for experienced lifters wishing to add significant size and strength to their glutes and hamstrings.
Pros and Cons of Glute Bridges and Hip Thrusts
Glute Bridge Benefits
Here are some of the benefits of glute bridges:
- Beginner friendly. Glute bridges are a great movement for people of all experience levels. They do not require much base strength or mobility, making them a great choice for people just starting to resistance train.
- Accessible. Glute bridges do not require any equipment, so they are accessible even to those without any weights or access to a gym membership.
- Great for activation. Glute bridges are effective at isolating the glutes and engaging the hamstrings. Doing bodyweight glute bridges is an effective way to warm up your posterior chain for loaded movements like squats or deadlifts, or for other activities like running or cycling.
- May help prevent or manage injury. Glute bridges can be effective movements for rehabilitation from an injury, or as part of a ‘prehab’ regime. Many people struggle to engage their glutes, which can strain the hips and lower back if they are recruited to compensate for weaker glutes.
Glute Bridge Drawbacks
Here are some of the disadvantages of glute bridges:
- Limited potential for progression. Glute bridges are usually done without added weight. This means you may not be able to progressively overload them as effectively. Whilst you can add resistance by using bands or dumbbells, you may soon find it difficult to get keep progressing your strength in a glute bridge.
- Shorter range of motion. Glute bridges have a shorter range of motion than a hip thrust, as there is no elevation of the shoulders. This may limit the movement’s effectiveness in engaging certain muscles or improving mobility.
- More difficult to load. The set-up of a glute bridge can limit your options for loading the movement. When raising your hips from a flat, lying down position, a standard size barbell may start to roll towards your face during the exercise. This can make loading the glute bridge less safe and effective.
Hip Thrust Benefits
Here are some of the benefits of hip thrusts:
- Fuller range of motion. Elevating the shoulders in the set-up for a hip thrust increases the range of motion. This helps to engage the muscles at the deeper angles of hip flexion, creating a greater overall stimulus for muscle strength and size.
- Greater progress potential. Hip thrusts are most often performed with a barbell and plates. This means they have an almost unlimited potential to increase the weight lifted. Hip thrusts can help you to build your glutes whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced lifter.
- Effective at stimulating glute hypertrophy. The hip thrust is a hip extension movement that places constant tension on the glutes and hamstrings. When loaded to an appropriate intensity and performed correctly, hip thrusts are a great choice to grow your glutes.
- Effectively isolates the glutes and hamstrings. Many other popular lower body exercises (like the squat and deadlift) engage large muscle groups in the back, quadriceps and core as well as the legs. Hip thrusts are unique in their ability to load the glutes and hamstrings without straining other muscles groups in the body.
Hip Thrust Drawbacks
- Less accessible. The greater range of motion may make the hip thrust challenging for lifters with poor mobility.
- Reliant on equipment. To do a hip thrust, you need to have regular access to a bench or box to rest your shoulders on. You also need access to a barbell and plates to load the barbell heavy enough to encourage hypertrophy.
- Can be uncomfortable. Even if you cushion the hip crease with a folded gym mat or a barbell pad, the pressure of the weight across your hip bones and pelvis can be uncomfortable. This may impede your ability to progress the movement as the weight increases.
- Not a functional movement pattern. Hip thrusts can lead people to hyperextend their hips and spine. Performing a hip thrust incorrectly, especially when heavily loaded, can pose a risk for injury.
When to do Glute Bridges and Hip Thrusts
When to do a glute bridge
- When you are still new to strength training. If you are a beginner who wants to build and strengthen your glutes, learning how to do the movement properly before adding weight is a great place to start.
- As an activation, warm-up and/or cool-down exercise. Glute bridges are an effective choice for a dynamic warm-up, as they can help engage the glutes before doing any loaded movements. They can also form part of an active cool-down routine.
- When traveling. The bodyweight glute bridge is a great choice to train the glutes when traveling or otherwise unable to access a barbell or other weights. This can be useful to help maintain muscle memory so that you don’t lose momentum or progress when you are back in the gym.
- During a deload. Deloads can be structured in a variety of ways. One such way is to decrease the weights used in your sessions. Doing glute bridges without added weight may be a good choice during a deload period of your training program.
When to do a hip thrust
- When you want to build maximum glute size. Hip thrusts offer a greater range of motion and the ability to overload the muscle. They isolate the glutes, making them a great choice for bodybuilders wanting to grow their glutes.
- When you are an intermediate to advanced lifter. If you have been performing unweighted glute bridges and no longer find them challenging, moving to a loaded hip thrust can be an effective strategy to keep progressively overloading.
- When you have access to appropriate equipment. To grow your glutes using hip thrusts, you need to have consistent access to the correct equipment to keep advancing your strength in this movement.
- When you are confident you can perform them correctly. The added range of motion and load involved in a hip thrust can maximise potential gains, but also potential for injury. Before attempting a heavy hip thrust, ensure you are confident in how to perform them with correct form.
Glute Bridge vs Hip Thrust – Muscles Used
Both glute bridges and hip thrusts primarily target the three gluteal muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. They also engage the hamstrings to a slightly lesser extent.
Both movements also engage the muscles of the core, lower back, hip flexors, abdominals and obliques. The degree to which these muscles are engaged will depend on which set-up you choose and the range of motion you perform. Elevating your shoulders more will increase how far the weight travels during the lift, placing a greater strain on the hamstrings and adductors. Your foot position is also important in activating the right muscles. Having your feet too close to your hips in the setup will shift the strain into your quadriceps and may cause knee pain. Positioning your feet too far away from your hips will shift the load from the glutes into the hamstring and lower back. How narrow or wide your stance is will also influence which muscles are working, though this will depend on your individual biomechanics. Try experimenting with your stance and noting which variation helps you to feel your glutes working the most.
How to do a glute bridge with proper form
- Lay on the ground facing up with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Place your arms at your sides with your palms gently pressing into the ground.
- Brace your core to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
- Squeeze your glutes to elevate your hips towards the sky.
- Stop when you have lifted your hips high enough to create a straight diagonal line between your heels, knees, hips and shoulders.
- Hold at the top of the movement for a few seconds, then gently lower your hips back to their starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
How to do a hip thrust with proper form
- Sit on the ground with a bench behind you. It is a good idea to have the bench against a wall or sturdy surface to prevent it from slipping backwards during the exercise.
- Lean back so that your shoulders are resting against the bench. Bend your knees and plant your feet.
- Pull your loaded barbell towards you so that it rests against your hip crease. Placing a barbell pad or a folded yoga/gym mat between your hips and the bar will help prevent discomfort.
- Squeeze your glutes and push through your feet to drive the barbell upward until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Your shoulders should rest near the top of the bench, with your torso creating a straight line from the bench to your knees.
- Hold at the top of the lift before slowly lowering the barbell.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and reset the barbell at the end of your set.
Helpful Form Cues
Glute Bridge Cues
- Keep the knees and toes in line. As you start to lift your hips, it’s common for the knees to start to splay out or fall inward. Try to keep your knees in line with your toes and hips. It may be helpful to imagine holding an imaginary ball between your thighs.
- Chin tuck/look straight ahead. Keep the neck in a neutral position by looking straight up at the ceiling throughout the movement.
- Initiate from the glutes. If your glutes are underdeveloped or not used to this movement, your legs and back muscles may start to take over. Think about initiating the movement by squeezing your glutes as hard as you can to ensure you target the right muscles.
Hip Thrust Cues
- Keep your gaze forward. Keeping your eyes looking straight ahead helps to keep your spine in a safe position. It also prevents anterior pelvic tilt and hyperextension of the lower back.
- Drive through the heels. Pushing through your heels rather than the ball of your foot will help you load the glutes and hamstrings, rather than shifting the weight to the quadriceps.
- Keep your ribs down. Keep your back firmly planted on the bench as your drive your hips up to prevent tilting your pelvis backwards and overextending the lumbar spine. You can also think about digging your triceps into the bench for added support.
- Aim for vertical shins at the top of the lift. This will help to guide your foot placement when doing a hip thrust so that your knees create a 90-degree angle at the point of full hip extension.
- Fully extend the hips and hold. Reaching full hip extension will maximise the benefits of the hip thrust. For most people, full extension is achieved when the shins are perpendicular to the ground and the body forms a straight line from shoulders through to the knees. Hold the top of the lift for a second or two to maximise time under tension.
Common Form Mistakes
Glute Bridge – Common Form Mistakes
The glute bridge can help you build your posterior strength and stability but it is important to perform a glute bridge correctly.
This helpful video from the National Academy of Sports Medicine shows how to perform a glute bridge.
Some common mistakes when doing a glute bridge are:
- Hyperextending the lower back. When doing an unweighted glute bridge, you may think the higher you push your hips up the better. This can cause you to overextend your back, shifting the load from your glutes to your lumbar spine.
- Recruiting the hips and quads. If you are feeling the strain in your hips or quads when doing a glute bridge, something needs adjusting. Shift your foot placement and think about squeezing the buttocks to initiate the movement.
- Feet are too close or too far from the body. The ideal foot placement varies depending on your biomechanics, but as a general rule, you should place your heels about a foot from your glutes. Place them too close or too far from the body and you will start to recruit your adductors and hamstrings more than your glutes.
- Pushing through your toes. Driving through your toes rather than your heel and midfoot encourages your pelvis to tilt, which can shift the weight from your glutes and hamstrings into your quads and calves.
Hip Thrust – Common Form Mistakes
The hip thrust is a great exercise for building your glutes when performed correctly.
Bret Contreras, the author of The Glute Lab and creator of the Strong Curves program, demonstrates the correct form for doing a barbell hip thrust in this helpful video.
Some common mistakes when doing a barbell hip thrust are:
- Arching the back. Overextending your back can place strain on your spine and shift the load away from your glutes and posterior chain. This is commonly caused by letting the head fall back too far towards the bench. Keep a neutral spine, including your neck, by bracing your core and looking forward.
- Letting the knees fall inwards. Keeping your knees hip-width apart is important to engage the correct muscles when doing a hip thrust. If you are struggling to keep your knees evenly spaced, placing a band around your thighs can provide helpful feedback for their correct placement.
- Not reaching full extension. It is important to reach full hip extension to get the most out of a barbell hip thrust. Do not sacrifice the full range of motion to add more weight to the bar. If you cannot achieve full extension, check your set-up is correct and consider lightening the load.
- Moving too quickly. Keep the movement controlled and avoid using momentum to maximise time under tension. If you can do a hip thrust very quickly it may be a sign that the weight is too light, or that you are ‘bouncing’ at the bottom of each rep.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hip Thrusts and Glute Bridges
te bridges can be performed with weight, but are usually done using just your body weight. A glute bridge and a hip thrust engage the same primary muscles and follow a similar movement path.
thrusts have advantages for glute hypertrophy and strength training over glute bridges due to their greater range of motion and potential for loading with weight.
Both exercises can form an effective part of a strength training program. If you are a beginner with limited access to gym equipment, the glute bridge is a good choice for you. If you are an experienced lifter with access to a barbell who wants to maximize glute strength and size, you may be better off choosing the barbell-loaded hip thrust.
Other Exercise Comparison Posts
If you enjoyed this post, check out our comparisons of other popular exercises below.