Banded Hip Thrusts: The Secret to Sculpting Strong Glutes

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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How to build big and strong glutes is one of the most frequently asked questions I get as a fitness trainer.

As a certified personal trainer, I always recommend weighted hip thrusts, but some of my clients also want home solutions and exercises that can be done anywhere. This is where resistance bands come in.

To help my readers and clients understand the movement mechanics, I teamed up with a physical therapist, and together, we've compiled this report illustrating how to do it with a band and other banded variations associated with this movement.

Let's dive in.

Quick Summary

  • Banded hip thrusts are a highly effective exercise for targeting and strengthening the glutes, offering an intensified workout by adding resistance band tension.
  • These exercises are adaptable for different fitness levels, allowing for variations in resistance and technique to suit individual needs and progressions.
  • According to a systematic review on PubMed Central, the barbell hip thrust, similar in mechanics to banded hip thrusts, shows greater activation of the gluteus maximus muscle compared to squats, with mean EMG activity varying between 55% and 105% of maximum voluntary isometric contraction.
  • Based on my extensive experience as a fitness trainer, I've consistently observed that incorporating banded hip thrusts into workout routines significantly enhances glute strength and muscle definition, making them a crucial exercise for anyone focusing on lower body development.

How to Do a Banded Hip Thrust

A woman doing banded hip thrust

A banded hip thrust is the advanced version of the normal hip thrust movement, which is an excellent glute workout even without a band.

Like weights, bands add resistance to the movement for maximum glute activation and associated muscles.

Here's how to do it:

  • Grab a preferred home gym resistance band and wrap it around the front of your hips, looping the ends under your feet.
  • After wrapping the band under your feet, plant your feet firmly on the ground and place your upper back on a bench or plyo box.
  • Now, in a slow and controlled manner, raise your hips until they are fully extended and in a straight line with your thighs and chest. Engage your core and glutes throughout the movement.
  • Once you reach the top position, hold briefly while squeezing your glutes, then slowly return your hips to your starting position.
  • Do about 12–15 reps.

Common Mistakes

A shirtless man doing banded hip thrust in the gym

Like any other workout, when banded hip thrusts are not done with proper form, they can be ineffective.

Here are some common mistakes you'd want to avoid:

  • Performing quickly. A general rule concerning resistance exercises is to perform them slowly and steadily to exert maximum stress. It's all about quality, not quantity.
  • Not pausing and squeezing at the top. Based on my experience, you need to squeeze throughout the movement, especially when you reach the top position. In addition to squeezing, pause for one or two seconds when you reach the top to maximize the time spent under tension.
  • Not fully extending your hips. Ensure you go all the way up for a full hip extension. Moving muscles through their full range of motion activates them fully.
  • Overextending your hips. On the other hand, overextending your hips can also be a problem. So stop when your thighs and upper body are aligned. Pressing higher than that can stress your lumbar spine.
  • Not warming up. Like any other exercise, you also need to warm up before stepping into the preferred hip thrust machine. According to a study from the WebMD website, warm-ups help you loosen up your joints, raise your body temperature for better workout performance, and lessen the likelihood of an injury [1].

"Full extension is different from overextending. Your hips should reach a neutral position, don't overextend them."

- Paulina Kairys, CPT, Author at Setforset.com

Other Variations

A woman doing other variation of banded hip thrust

Based on my tests, here are some variations of the standard hip thruster movements.

Single Leg Band Leg Thrust

The single-leg thrust is another great exercise for targeting the glutes.

It has similar movement mechanics to the standard hip thrust, except you're doing it through one leg.

Here's how to do it:

  • Wrap a band in front of your hips and loop the other end under your right foot. Angle your left foot outward for stability.
  • Plant the right foot flat and firmly on the ground, and place your upper back on a bench or plyo box.
  • Now, in a slow and controlled manner, raise your hips until your right thigh is parallel to your upper body. Ensure that you engage your glutes and core throughout the movement.
  • Once you reach the top position, pause briefly while engaging your glutes, then slowly return to your starting position.
  • Repeat the movement for your desired number of reps before switching sides and repeating the same with your left foot.

Banded Standing Hip Thrust

A man doing banded standing hip thrust in the gym

Think of it as a half squat, but instead of the downward resistance, it's pulling you back. This way, it incorporates more hips than legs.

Here's how to do it:

  • Start by wrapping a band around an anchor point behind you and wrapping the other end around your waist.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Ensure the band is taut in the resting position before starting the movement.
  • From a standing position, hinge at your waist and drop your hips as if doing a half squat while maintaining the movement exclusively within your hips. The band should pull your hips back. Move your arms out for balance.
  • Once your hips are pulled back, briefly hold the position while engaging your glutes and tightening your core, then thrust your hips forward.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Banded Glute Bridge

The main difference between a hip thrust and a glute bridge is that the former is performed against a bench, while the latter is performed with shoulders on the floor.

While hip thrusts achieve a greater range of motion and more glute contraction than glute bridges, the latter is still a very effective glute activation workout.

Here's how to do the banded glute bridge:

  • Wrap a resistance band around the front of your hips and loop the other ends under your feet. Lie down with your back on the floor.
  • Now, slowly raise your hips until fully extended while engaging your glutes and core.
  • Once you reach the top position, pause briefly before returning to the ground.
  • Repeat for about 8–12 reps.

The kneeling banded hip thruster is another effective movement you should consider adding to your regimen.

Muscles Worked

Highlighted glutes muscle of a woman

The primary target of banded hip thrusts is the glutes.

According to another study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, other secondary muscles include the hamstrings, quads, core, and hip adductors [2].

From my experience, different variations may alter some muscles more than others, although the glutes remain the primary focus.

Benefits

Below are the benefits associated with hip thrust movements:

  • They isolate the glutes and cause maximum activation in this area.
  • They are easy to do.
  • They can be done at home or anywhere with no equipment.
  • They strengthen the core.

FAQs

Is It Better to Do Hip Thrusts With a Band?

Yes, it is better to do hip thrusts with a band to increase tension in the glutes for maximum gains. The good thing about a band is that it can be done from anywhere, including at home, where a barbell may not be available.

Does Hip Thrust Increase Hip Size?

No, hip thrusts do not increase hip size. They can strengthen and increase the size of your glute muscles, but not your hips.

How Many Hip Thrusts for Glute Growth?

For glute growth, shoot for three sets of 12–20 reps of hip thrust movements 2–3 times a week. Combine this with a protein supplement for faster results.

How Does Neurological Activation and Motor Learning Benefit from Banded Hip Thrusts?

Neurological activation and motor learning are significantly enhanced by banded hip thrusts, as the resistance band's tension increases muscle engagement and improves the mind-muscle connection. This focused activation helps in developing better control and efficiency in muscle movements.

What Role Do Banded Hip Thrusts Play in Rehabilitation and Injury Prevention?

Banded hip thrusts play a crucial role in rehabilitation and injury prevention, particularly for athletes recovering from lower back or hip injuries. The exercise's controlled movement and adjustable resistance make it an effective tool for gradually rebuilding strength without excessive strain.

How Do Banded Hip Thrusts Impact Posture and Functional Movement?

Banded hip thrusts have a positive impact on posture and functional movement by strengthening the posterior chain, which is essential for maintaining an upright posture. Regular practice of this exercise contributes to improved balance and ease in performing daily activities.

What Variations of Banded Hip Thrusts Can Accommodate Different Fitness Levels?

Variations of banded hip thrusts can accommodate different fitness levels by adjusting band thickness, positioning, and movement tempo. These modifications allow the exercise to be tailored to individual needs, making it accessible for beginners and challenging for advanced users.

How Do Banded Hip Thrusts Compare to Traditional Weighted Hip Thrusts in Muscle Activation?

Banded hip thrusts differ from traditional weighted hip thrusts in terms of muscle activation and risk of injury. While both effectively target the glutes, banded hip thrusts offer a safer alternative with lower injury risk, making them more suitable for home workouts.


References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/benefits-of-warmup-exercises
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6544005/
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About The Author

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
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Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
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Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
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