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Add Size To The Glutes With The Hip Thrust Machine

February 07, 2024

Hip thrust machine for glutes

When it comes to working your glutes, most people default to squats, deadlifts, and lunges in a bid to add some size to the glutes.

For many years the squat has been known as the queen of booty building exercises. But what if there’s a king glute exercise? An exercise that is just as good as the squat, if not better, for building the glutes.

Introducing the Hip thrust.

The hip thrust was invented in 2006 by Bret Contreras. Bret is considered the world's foremost expert on glute training and has been studying the science behind glute training for many years. He is ‘The Glute Guy’.

When Bret invented the exercise, there were obviously no dedicated hip thrust machines. You had to set up a bench and grab a barbell and shuffle your way into position whilst resting your shoulders on the bench.

While this is still an effective way to perform the exercise, like anything that gains popularity, manufacturers have jumped on the hype and designed machines to make our lives easier.

Today we’ll be discussing the benefits, variations, and how-to’s, stay tuned...

Table of Contents
What are the glutes
What is a hip thrust machine
How to use the hip thrust machine
Hip thrust machine tips
Hip thrust machine alternatives
Why is training your glutes so important


What are the Glutes?

The glutes are a group of three muscles located in your buttocks. They consist of the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus.

The gluteus maximus is the largest, most superficial muscle in the butt and is responsible for hip extension (moving your leg behind you) and external rotation (turning your thigh outwards).

The gluteus medius is the second largest muscle and sits above and to the side of the maximas. It is responsible for abduction (lifting) your leg away from your body, and external rotation.

The gluteus minimus is the smallest muscle in the region and aids in abduction and external rotation.  

All three muscles work together to stabilise your hips and spine, allowing you to move your legs in different directions.

Your glutes are some of the most important muscles in your body. Not only do they help you move, but they also play a crucial role in keeping your spine and hips healthy. In fact, if you're not using your glutes regularly, you could be putting yourself at risk for back pain and other health issues.


What is a Hip Thrust Machine

Hip thrust machine

While using the original setup (barbell and bench) is great for building the glutes. The introduction of specifically designed machines makes our life a lot easier.

We don’t have to worry about the awkward setup that comes with the traditional method. The hip thrust machine provides high levels of support, which is ideal for hypertrophy, and we don’t have to worry about rearranging the gym to build our workstations.

Essentially the hip thrust machine is specifically designed to perform the hip thrust movement to build strength and size in the glutes.


How to use the Hip Thrust Machine

Utilising the hip thrust machine is much easier than the barbell alternative.

  • Place your shoulders on the cushioned pad and place your feet on the plate. The position of your feet will be trial and error. Place them too low on the plate and you’ll feel your quads taking the brunt of the load. Place them too high and your hamstrings will be working hard. Place them just right and your glutes will be the prime mover.
  • Place the belt over your hips and plug it in on the opposite side
  • Pushing through your heels, and without moving your feet and shoulders, drive your hips up towards the ceiling
  • Once your thighs are parallel to your back, you have reached the top of the movement. Slowly lower yourself to the starting position.


Hip Thrust Machine – Tips

The reason we hip thrust is that we want to build our glutes. We therefore need to ensure we’re performing the exercise correctly to get the most out of it. Here are some tips for getting the best results from the hip thrust machine:

  1. Use the proper form - Make sure your shoulder blades are placed firmly against the pad, drive through your heels and keep your core tight throughout the entire movement. Use a full range of motion for maximum hypertrophy benefits.
  1. Focus on quality, not quantity - Take time to focus on each repetition and really squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement. This will help you get more out of each rep rather than just going through the motions as quickly as possible.
  1. Avoid arching your back - Make sure to keep your spine in a neutral position throughout the movement and avoid overextending your back at the top. This will help reduce strain on your lower back and prevent any unwanted injuries.
  1. Increase the weight gradually - Start with a lighter weight and once you’ve mastered the form, then you can begin to add weight. The aim is to keep getting stronger to enable you to keep building muscle – this is known as progressive overload.


Hip Thrust Machine Alternatives

If you don't have access to a hip thrust machine – no drama; there are still plenty of ways to target and strengthen your glutes. Here are some alternatives for working those muscles:

  1. Glute Bridges - This exercise is similar to hip thrusts, but you can do it without any equipment. Simply lie on your back and lift your hips towards the ceiling while squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement. The great thing is that anyone can do this exercise anywhere, no matter their fitness level. To upgrade the exercise to make it harder, try placing a weight on your hips to act as resistance.

Glute bridge example

  1. Barbell Hip Thrusts - For those who have access to a barbell and weight plates, you can easily replicate the hip thrust machine using a barbell. This is a more advanced version of the glute bridge that uses a barbell for added resistance. Just place the barbell across your hips, shoulders on a bench, and drive your hips towards the ceiling, squeezing at the top of the movement. Depending on your strength level, you can do this exercise with or without additional weights.

Barbell hip thrust

  1. Banded Hip Thrusts - This exercise uses a resistance band which creates a unique training stimulus. Utilising a resistance band allows for the exercise to get progressively hard as you go through the range of motion – with the highest resistance at the top of the movement when glute activation is at its highest. Simply place the resistance band over the waist and tie it down to something heavy on the floor – proceed to perform the exercise as normal.
  1. Dumbbell Hip Thrusts - This exercise is similar to barbell hip thrusts, but as the name suggests, you use a dumbbell instead of a barbell. You can do this with one or two dumbbells depending on your strength level, and it’s a great machine hip thrust alternative. The dumbbell hip thrust can also be used as a learning exercise so that you can practice the movement pattern before jumping into either the barbell hip thrust or the hip thrust machine.


Why is Training your Glutes Important

Your glutes are some of the most powerful muscles in your body and are responsible for many everyday movements. You can improve your balance, coordination, and posture by strengthening your glutes. Additionally, strong glutes help keep your hips stable and support you when you’re performing other exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and lunges.

Strong glutes are essential if you want to stay injury-free. Weak glute muscles can cause poor posture, leading to hip pain or lower back pain. They can also contribute to knee pain due to their role in stabilising the hips and pelvis. Keeping your glutes strong is key to preventing these types of injuries.

Additionally, having strong glutes will also make it easier for you to perform everyday activities like climbing stairs, picking things up, walking, and running. These movements require a lot of strength and stability from your glutes, so it's essential to ensure they're in good shape.

Finally, we’re going to want to train our glutes for aesthetic reasons. Choosing the right glute exercises is critical for building strength and adding size to the butt. A well-structured glute training program will build a round, toned rear that many dream of. Be sure to include a combination of upper and lower glute exercises and you’ll be well on your way to building a derriere to be proud of.


Final Thoughts

Having strong glutes is essential for keeping your body healthy and injury-free. The hip thrust exercise has massively grown in popularity over the last 10 years and rightly so, it’s one of the best ways to effectively target and build the glutes.

Manufacturers have capitalised on the increased popularity and built specifically designed machines to make our lives easier. On behalf of most people, we thank them for that. There’s no more faffing around setting up a bench and dragging a barbell across the gym, just so that we can awkwardly struggle to get the barbell over our legs and shimmy our shoulders onto a bench to perform the movement. We’ve now got it easy.

The hip thrust machines come in all different variations, but they’re all very similar. You have a cushioned pad to put your shoulder blades on, usually somewhere to place your feet, and a belt that goes over the hips – it’s so simple yet saves us so much time.

If you’re lucky enough to have a hip thrust machine in your gym; use it. It’s the king exercise for building strength and size in the glutes!

Thomas D
Thomas D


Thomas is a dedicated fitness enthusiast with over 12 years of experience in the gym. As a level 2 qualified gym instructor, he combines his passion for working out and nutrition to help others achieve their fitness goals. Thomas stays up to date with the latest fitness research and follows the work of top experts in the field. With a balance of textbook knowledge and real-life experience, he provides practical guidance to help others reach their full potential.

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