How to Do the Dumbbell Hip Thrust - Forms, Alternatives and Muscles Worked
A surprising number of people ignore their glutes, hamstrings, and other lower regions during workouts. These muscles help you have the right posture, perform regular and intense movements better, and improve your athletic performance. Therefore, improving them through quality exercises is crucial for building a well-rounded physique. One of the best exercises for building glutes and surrounding muscles is the dumbbell hip thrust.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about it, such as its forms, the muscles it trains, and much more.
What is a Dumbbell Hip Thrust?
Dumbbell hip thrust is a lower body exercise that involves flexing your hip to form a straight line from shoulder to hips. It is performed by putting your feet on the floor and flexing your hips, making it slightly different from the glute bridge, which involves putting your back on the floor. Dumbbell hip thrust is a horizontally loaded exercise, unlike vertically loaded squats.
Primarily, a dumbbell hip thrust trains your glutes. However, its secondary targets are the surrounding muscles, such as the hamstrings and quadriceps. When you perform a dumbbell hip thrust, your main focus should be on exerting your glutes.
How to Do A Dumbbell Hip Thrust the Right Way?
Here is a step-by-step guide to doing a perfect hip thrust:
Step 1: Lay back on a bench and rest your upper back.
Step 2: Drive your hips towards the ceiling and tighten your abs. This is the base position where you'll feel your glutes and hamstrings.
Step 3: Put the dumbbell on your hips and let it sink your hips, stretching the glutes.
Step 4: Drive up through the heels, squeeze your glutes on top, and come back down.
That's one repetition of the dumbbell hip thrust. Keep doing it with full control until you have completed the set. Make sure you are not arching your lower back while performing the exercise.
Muscles Worked in Dumbbell Hip Thrust
Dumbbell hip thrust is excellent because it works many lower body muscles. Let's discuss them all and see how the dumbbell hip thrust trains them.
It’s the largest muscle among gluteal muscles and is the main player during hip thrust movement. It starts from the pelvic bone and connects to the thigh bone. The primary function of the gluteus maximus is that it provides stability to the hips and knees, aiding movement during walking and running. It is also helpful for external hip rotation and hip abduction.
Gluteus medius starts from the ilium and goes into the thigh bone. However, most of it is covered by the gluteus maximus, with the upper portion being its only visible part. It supports hip movement and stability by aiding hip abduction and frontal plane control.
The gluteus minimus lies even beneath the other two gluteal muscles and is covered by them. It also starts at the ilium and ends in the thigh bone. Hip abduction and stability being its major functions, it is really helpful in rotating your thighs to the sides. It also ensures you don't lower your hip too much after lifting your leg.
These are located at the back of the thigh, and their main functions are knee extension and hip extension because they cross both the hip and knee joints. However, the main purpose of dumbbell hip thrust isn't to exert the hamstrings. If you feel your hamstrings are under stress, adjust your foot and knees to ensure the glutes feel the maximum tension.
Adductor Magnus is the major hip adductor on the inner-back part of the thigh. As the name suggests, its main functions are thigh adduction, thigh extension, internal & external rotation, and pelvic stabilization.
Erector Spinae is connected with the spine and runs across both sides, starting from the skull and reaching the sacrum. They help you rotate your trunk and extend your lateral part.
The quadriceps are four muscles primarily responsible for knee extension located on the front of the thigh. One of them, rectus femoris, is the opposite of the hamstrings and helps with hip flexion.
Dumbbell Hip Thrust Common Mistakes
Mistake #1: Not Using the Full Range
Any workout is incomplete and ineffective if you're not using the full range of motion because that's how the muscles are fully exerted. However, it is a common phenomenon that many people avoid going full range during dumbbell hip thrusts because they find it too difficult. If you don't use the full range of motion, you're not fully engaging your glutes, which kills the exercise's purpose.
Make sure you go down without stretching your back and come up in a similar way. You should feel your glutes being stressed at every exercise point, not other muscles like the hamstrings.
Mistake #2: Wrong Feet Placement
Beginner lifters often make the mistake of putting their feet too far forward. Doing it will engage your hamstrings more than the glutes, rendering the exercise less effective than it's meant to be. The solution to this issue is placing your feet so that they make a 90° angle when you extend.
Mistake #3: Overstretching Your Back
A lot of people overextend their lower back while working out. It doesn't just reduce the effectiveness of the exercise but can also result in serious injury. One way to avoid it is to keep your chin tucked in and extend only when your back is in a neutral position.
Benefits of the Dumbbell Hip Thrust
The Gluteus maximus is the largest muscle group in the body that helps you extend the hip joints. By doing dumbbell hip thrusts, you train them extensively, making them stronger and bigger.
As we have already discussed, hip flexors are the antagonist muscles to your glutes. If they're stronger than the glutes, you might develop the anterior pelvic tilt (hollow back), causing pain and posture issues.
Enhanced Athletic Performance
Many athletic activities, such as sports, require energy and explosive speed/power bursts. You cannot achieve optimal athletic performance if your hamstrings, quadriceps, or glutes are weak. Dumbbell hip thrusts primarily target the glutes, but they also exert your hamstrings and quadriceps improving jumping, running, and many other athletic activities.
Better Core Stability
You must continuously keep your core muscles engaged during dumbbell hip thrusts for stability and to avoid lower back arch. It results in stronger core muscles, improving overall stability and balance.
Since the glutes are the strongest and the largest muscles in your body, strengthening them is crucial for preventing injuries that result from muscle weaknesses. Therefore, activating the glutes regularly is important if you want more for less and to prevent injuries.
Dumbbell hip thrust is an excellent exercise for contracting and extending your glutes by loading them at an angle. Glutes support a lot of movement in our body, and their weakness can result in easily preventable injuries.
Flexible & Adaptable
Dumbbell hip thrust is a highly adaptable and flexible exercise that can be performed anywhere, anytime. Although most people do it in the gym, that's not a requirement. You can do it anywhere you want if you have the right technique and a pair of dumbbells.
Dumbbell Hip Thrust Variations
Dumbbell hip thrust can be performed in different variations, which we'll discuss here.
Single-leg Dumbbell Hip Thrust
The traditional dumbbell hip thrusts can be modified into a single-leg variation to train one leg at a time. It improves stability and balance by focusing on one leg instead of both, making it an excellent variation for beginners. Here's how to perform a single-leg dumbbell hip thrust:
- Lie down with your feet flat on the ground.
- Place the dumbbell on one lap and extend one leg in front of you.
- Lift your hip off the ground through your heel while keeping the other leg and shoulder on the ground.
- Squeeze your glutes on top for a second and bring yourself back down to the starting position.
Banded Dumbbell Hip Thrust
Resistance bands are great for increasing the intensity of the exercise and gaining better control over the movement. Here's how you can do a banded dumbbell hip thrust:
- Wrap a band around your knees and lie on the ground with flat feet.
- Place a dumbbell on your lap and lift your hip off the ground by driving through your heels.
- Engage your glutes and abductors by pushing your knees against the band.
- Hold the top position for a second before coming down slowly.
Isometric Hold Dumbbell Hip Thrust
Having an isometric hold on top of your movement can improve your gains. It enhances strength and endurance significantly.
- Put a dumbbell on your lap and lie with flat feet on the ground.
- Push through your heels to lift yourself off the ground.
- In an isometric movement, you must hold the top position as long as possible before coming down.
Dumbbell Hip Thrust Alternatives
Dumbbell hip thrusts are great for your glutes. However, they do not focus on the hamstrings and quadriceps as much. Thankfully, there are alternatives for adding variety to your workout routine and targeting different muscles.
Barbell Hip Thrust
As the name suggests, a barbell hip thrust uses a barbell instead of a dumbbell. As a barbell is heavier, it allows you to exert more and is an excellent exercise for those who have spent some time working out.
To perform a barbell hip thrust:
- Rest your upper back against a bench, place a barbell across your hips, and hold it with your hands.
- Push your heels off the ground to squeeze your glutes on top.
- Keep your back straight & knees in line with your feet.
- Hold the top position momentarily and squeeze your glutes before coming down slowly.
Glute bridge is another exercise for training your glutes, hamstrings, and core.
Here's the right way to perform a glute bridge:
- Lie on the ground with flat feet and arms on your sides.
- Lift your hip off the ground with heels and squeeze your glutes on top.
- Hold it there for a second and lower yourself to the starting position.
You can perform glute bridges without weights, which makes them an excellent choice for everyone.
It is a compound exercise that works your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
To perform a Romanian deadlift:
- Stand on your feet shoulder-width apart and hold dumbbells in both hands.
- Keep your back straight and core engaged, and lower the weight towards the ground.
- Always keep weights close to your body and push through heels to bring yourself back up to the original position.
Step-ups are another alternative exercise for the hamstrings and glutes.
Here's how to perform them:
- Stand in front of a bench or step while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Drive through your heel to step onto the bench or the step.
- Push your other foot up to meet the first one and step down to the original position.
Lunges are another popular alternative to dumbbell hip thrusts and can be performed with or without weights.
- Stand shoulder width apart and hold dumbbells in each hand.
- Step forward while bending your knees and lowering your body towards the ground.
- The front knee should be aligned with the ankle, and the back knee should be slightly above the ground.
- Use the front heel to stand back up and do the process with the other leg.
Dumbbell Hip Thrust FAQs
Q: How to choose the right weight of dumbbell hip thrust?
There is no standard weight for dumbbell hip thrusts, as people have varying endurance levels and experience. However, you should always start with the lowest possible weight if you're a beginner and gradually move towards heavier weights.
Q: What are the frequency and sets/reps recommendations?
The frequency and sets/reps for dumbbell hip thrusts depend upon your goals.
- For Strength: 5 sets of 5 reps with a heavy load.
- Building Muscle Mass: 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps with moderate to heavy weight.
- For Endurance: 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps with moderate load.
Q: How to progress the dumbbell hip thrust for continued improvement?
You can progress the dumbbell hip thrust by increasing the weight or the exercise intensity. If you have access to heavier weights, use them, and you'll progress gradually. If you don't have access to more weights, add more repetitions & sets, increase the range of motion, and shorten rest periods.
Glutes are your body's biggest muscles; training them is indispensable for a well-rounded physique. Well-trained glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps look good and add significant amounts of functionality and strength to your body. Dumbbell hip thrust is one of the best ways to train all of them, especially the glutes.
Depending on your situation, you can try different variations of the dumbbell hip thrust to get the maximum out of it. Just ensure you're not committing common mistakes, and you are on your way to a toned and strong physique!