Group 4: Glutes
The glutes are the largest hip extensor muscle the body has, but they usually work in synergy with other muscles during movements like deadlifts or squats. As popular as those movements are (and yes, they do help develop the glutes), they’re not as great at isolating hip extension as this movement below.
The hip thrust can be a bit awkward to set up, but a growing number of gyms have fixed thrust machines in their weight rooms in order to make the process much easier. The thing that sets a hip thrust apart from a deadlift is the horizontal orientation. By lying down horizontally, you place the glutes under mechanical tension for a much greater portion of the lift—virtually the entire thing. Compare that to, say, a Romanian deadlift or a squat, where you have the hips extending horizontally against a weight that’s being affected by vertical gravitational forces. At best, the glutes will be under maximum tension for only half the movement.
How to Do It:
To do the hip thrust, the upper back must be positioned flat against a surface, like a bench, that will not move. If you don’t have access to a hip thrust machine, place the bench against a wall and lie down on it. Place the bar with a bar pad on the fold of the hip. Keep the feet flat on the ground, bend the knees 90 degrees, and keep the legs hip-width apart. Dig in with the heels and place the hands on either side of the hips, on the bar. Squeeze the glutes and raise the hips to full extension. You should look like a tabletop, with the glutes working hard. Lower almost to ground level and repeat. Focusing on sets of eight to 15 reps is ideal here.
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