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Forget squats for growing your glute muscles.
If you want to better isolate your glutes to create shape and add muscle, focus on exercises like the glute bridge or hip thrust.
But which one is better and how do you choose?
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In this article, we’ll be going over the key differences between hip thrust exercises compared to the glute bridge exercise so that you can decide which is best for your workout routine.
Glute Bridge VS Hip Thrust
The main difference between the glute bridge and hip thrust is in the set up.
Glute bridges are performed while lying on the floor with your back fully supported. Whereas hip thrusts are done with your upper back and shoulders resting on the edge of an elevated surface like a weight bench.
As your upper body remains in a raised position when doing a hip thrust, this allows for a greater range of motion at the hip joint.
This is because there’s a much bigger distance between your glutes and the floor.
A larger range of motion means you can expect increased glute activation.
Typically, the hip thrust is considered a more advanced exercise when compared to the glute bridge as you’ll need to have good posterior chain control and be able to hip hinge properly for maximum muscle activation.
Both glute exercises can be performed as a body weight movement or by adding resistance in the way of a barbell or even a resistance band.
Below is a quick round up of the distinct differences between each exercise.
The start of the movement will differ between the two exercises.
When doing a glute bridge, you’d simply lie down on the ground with your knees bent.
Conversely, the hip thrust starts with your upper body raised from the floor.
Range of Motion
As the gap between your glutes and the floor is wider when doing a hip thrust, this increases the range of motion meaning your hips can drop much lower for better glute activation.
It’s worth noting that you can increase the range of motion when doing a glute bridge by placing your feet on a slightly raised surface, something like a couple of weight plates would work well.
These are called feet-elevated bridges and will allow you to lower more into the movement but not to the same degree as the hip thrust.
As you drop deeper into the repetition when doing a hip thrust, this activates more of your quadriceps.
When lying on the floor to do a glute bridge, there’s much less knee flexion which decreases the use of your quads.
You won’t need any equipment when doing a regular body weight glute bridge and you simply perform it by lying on the ground.
On the other hand, you’ll need an elevated surface which is stable to be able to do the hip thrust.
Ideally, this is something like a flat bench or step-up box.
As you progress, you may want to add some resistance by way of a barbell, dumbbell or bands.
Both exercises can allow you to add resistance for better muscle growth, but the hip thrust is more superior allowing you to lift heavier weights.
The deeper range of motion achieved with the hip thrust makes it easier and more comfortable to lift more weight off the ground.
Technically speaking, the smaller range of motion with a glute bridge should make going heavier easier.
However, it’s much more difficult to lift a loaded barbell when doing glute bridges because when you’re at the top of the movement, you’ll have to use your hands to hold the bar in place and stop it from rolling down your legs.
This can be uncomfortable and makes progressive overload much harder to achieve, not because your muscles can’t lift the weight but the awkwardness of the technique.
We also notice that, unless you can find some way of bracing yourself, you tend to slide back as you do each rep. In a busy gym environment, this isn’t very practical.
Does The Glute Bridge And Hip Thrust Target The Same Muscles?
Both the glute bridge and hip thrust involve hip extension which helps to target the glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, and adductors.
For glute gains, doing the glute bridge or hip thrust is a great way of increasing muscle mass, especially to the gluteus maximus.
This is the biggest of the gluteal muscles and the largest muscle in your whole body.
However, both exercises have their limitations when working the gluteus medius with neither being the best for working this particular muscle.
This is because of the hip extension movement plane (raising and lowering the hips).
The gluteus medius is more engaged in movements that involve abduction, where the leg moves away from the center of the body.
If the hip thrust or glute bridge are performed as a bodyweight exercise, then you’ll get similar glute, adductor, and hamstring activation.
However, there’s greater quad engagement when doing the hip thrust compared to the glute bridge.
This means you have more muscle groups moving through a larger range of motion when doing hip thrusts.
What’s The Difference Between The Hip Thrust And The Kas Glute Bridge
The Kas glute bridge exercise is essentially an end of range hip thrust.
This means instead of lowering your hips to the floor, as you would with a regular hip thrust, you stop the moment that your knees begin to track backwards.
The purpose of this is to reduce quad activation while keeping tension on your glutes.
As the starting position of the Kas glute bridge has your upper back supported by a raised surface, this means that it isn’t a bridge exercise at all but is in fact a hip thrust exercise.
This can create a little confusion with the terminology.
How To Do The Glute Bridge
Let’s look at the steps to perform the glute bridge with proper form.
- Lie down on the ground with your knees bent and arms down by your sides.
- Engage your core muscles and press your lower back into the ground.
- Raise your hips up until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Squeeze your glutes hard at the top of the movement and hold it briefly.
- Lower back to the starting position and repeat.
How To Do The Hip Thrust
Now let’s look at how to do a hip thrust exercise.
If you want to activate the most muscle groups, including your quads, be sure to move through a full range of motion by lowering all the way to the ground.
If you’d rather keep tension on just your glutes, perform the Kas glute bridge and stop as your knees start to move back.
- Start by sitting on the floor with your upper back and shoulders resting against the edge of the bench.
- Keep your knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart.
- If using weight, position the bar so it rests in your hip crease.
- Squeeze your glutes and abdominals and drive through your feet to push the bar upwards.
- Stop when your torso is parallel to the floor.
- Keep your abs engaged and chin tucked and begin to slowly lower the bar back to the start and repeat.
Often people ask which one is better, the glute bridge or hip thrust.
While both exercises are great for glute development and target similar muscle groups, it’s important to remember they’re still different exercises.
If you’re new to these exercises, it’s a good idea to start out with the body weight glute bridge as it’s easier to perform and will help to improve the strength of your posterior chain muscles.
As you find your strength increasing and are confident with lifting a larger amount of weight, then move over to barbell hip thrusts.
Ultimately, the key to reaping the benefits of these exercises lies in proper form, progressive overload, and consistency.
Including a combination of both the hip thrust and the glute bridge in your workout routine can help you develop your lower body strength and improve the shape of your glutes.
The most important factor is to choose the exercise based on your objectives and that suits your current fitness level.