The Barbell hip thrust is a very common glute exercise and thanks to social media, you see almost every female doing this exercise for aesthetic purposes. But building stronger glutes is more important for you than just filling out your jeans. Building a stronger bum should be a goal regardless of gender and is one of the best ways to decrease or prevent lower back pain.

When you bend forward or proceed into a siting motion (squat) your hips will bend backward to help counterbalance your upper body’s forward motion. But if your glutes are not strong enough to fully engage when your hips bend backward, your lumbar spine will round forward excessively and this leads to too much stress on the lower back.

Another everyday activity that engages our glutes is walking and running. When alternating steps our pelvis is shifting side to side, this shifting motion is decelerated by the gluteus medius and minimus because of their attachments from the pelvis to the side of the hip and leg. When our glutes are strong, they act as a brake for the lumbar spine, protecting it from excessive movement and stress. If they are not performing correctly, pain may occur in the hips and lower back.

Most people think of squats and deadlifts when they think of glute exercises, and although they’re a great posterior chain exercise, they’re not your top exercises for building stronger glutes. Hip thrusts, single-leg deadlifts and Bulgarian split squats all provide more glute activation and should be placed into your workouts.

The hardest part of barbell hip thrust is getting set up. Using a smith machine takes away some of the awkwardness of the setup but if you don’t have access to a smith machine or you would prefer to use free weight here’s how you get started:

Performing Hip Thrusts With A Barbell

  1. Begin by putting padding around your barbell to prevent it from digging into your hips when you thrust.
  2. Place your upper back on your bench with your barbell across your hips.
  3. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, close to your glutes.
  4. Push your feet into the floor, while you drive your hips skyward, engaging your core and abs.
  5. Keep the movement in the lower body as much as possible (don’t “rock” your upper body to complete the move).
  6. Hold for a count then lower to your starting position.
  7. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps.

Tip: Avoid hyperextending the lower back during this exercise.