Many people perform the hip thrust as a hip dominant or glute-focused exercise to help their deadlift. However, there are mixed opinions on whether doing hip thrusts actually increase deadlift strength.
So, do hip thrusts help deadlifts? Yes, hip thrusts do help deadlifts. They help the deadlift by strengthening the hip extensor muscles which are the glutes, which is especially important if you are weak at the lockout. They also help novice lifters with better technique if they do not know how to hinge through their hips.
In this article, we are going to break down exactly:
- How hip thrust help the deadlift
- Who should and should not do hip thrusts for deadlifts
- How to perform and program hip thrusts in your routine to help deadlifts
Let’s dive in!
How Does Hip Thrust Help Deadlifts? (3 Ways)
The hip thrust helps deadlifts by doing the following:
- Helps cue the hip hinge
- Develops the glute muscles
- Helps with the deadlift lockout
Helps Cue The Hip Hinge
The hip thrust is effective at helping you cue the hip hinge, which is an important part of a good deadlift execution.
If you are relatively new to deadlift or are not good at keeping your back flat, you need to master your ability to hinge through your hips.
A common mistake among people who do deadlifts is that they round through their back and hinge through the spine as opposed to the hips. This is bad because this increases undue stress and injury risk around the lower back.
Hinging through the hips not only reduces injury risk but also makes the lift more efficient by relying on the bigger muscle groups including the glutes.
Check out some of the following resources to learn more about keeping your back flat in the deadlift:
Develops The Glute Muscles
The hip thrust is a good isolation exercise for building muscle mass and strength around the glutes, specifically the gluteus maximus. The gluteus maximus is a primary hip muscle used in the deadlift.
Developing the glute muscles is important for long-term strength gains. Muscle mass has been shown to correlate well with maximal strength performance among powerlifters. So the more muscle you have, the larger your potential for a stronger deadlift performance.
Training the glute muscles can also improve your work capacity in that region and if it is a weak point of yours, then you increase how much work you can do for deadlifts leading you to better gains. Increasing your work capacity means increasing how many reps you can do at given intensities or loads.
Increasing your work capacity in that muscle group can also reduce the likelihood of fatigue during a set, which may lead to your back potentially rounding. So increasing your work capacity in your glutes can reduce injury risk.
Want to learn more about deadlifting muscles, check out my complete guide on the Muscles Used In The Deadlift.
Helps With The Deadlift Lockout
The hip thrust is also effective at training the lockout portion or the top end of the deadlift range of motion.
The lockout portion of the deadlift refers to the range of motion from when the barbell passes the knee cap to when you are standing upright.
The range of motion in the hip thrusts replicate a similar range of motion for the deadlift lockout so the hip thrust has a high carryover for that portion of the hip movement.
If you struggle with specific ranges of motion throughout the deadlift, check out:
- Is your deadlift weak off the floor? Try these 7 tips
- Is your deadlift weak at the knees? Try these 5 tips
- Is your deadlift weak at lockout? Try these 10 tips
Who Should Do Hip Thrust For Deadlifts?
Hip thrusts are ideal for people who struggle with the following issues:
- If you are a novice lifter
- If your hip muscles fatigue
- If you have a sticking point at lockout
If You Are A Novice Lifter
If you are a novice lifter, you will benefit from doing hip thrusts as it is a simple movement that teaches you to hip hinge and build your hip muscles.
As a novice lifter, it is important to establish good technique early on in your training journey and hip thrusts are a good and simple exercise to perform for good movement and building muscle mass around the glutes.
If Your Hip Muscles Fatigue
If your hip muscles fatigue during deadlifts, your lower back may start taking over, so performing hip thrusts can help you build some more muscular endurance around the glutes.
You may want to choose higher reps and lower load with the hip thrusts in this situation so it will also work your energy systems to help you last longer during sets.
If You Have A Sticking Point At Lockout
If you are able to get the barbell above your knees but you struggle with the final few inches at the lockout and getting your shoulders back, you may be weak with the hips or you started in a weak hip position
The lockout relies more on the hip muscles than on the leg muscles, so if you are weak with the hips, the hip thrusts can help.
If you started in a poor hip position where your lower back may have been slightly rounded, you were not hinging well enough in the hips, which can be improved by practicing the hip hinge with the hip thrusts.
Who Should Not Do Hip Thrust For Deadlifts?
Hip thrusts are not ideal for people who struggle with the following issues:
- Your deadlift is weak off the floor
- Your hips rise too quickly
If Your Deadlift Is Weak Off The Floor
If you struggle to get the barbell off the floor, you will not benefit from doing hip thrusts as you are in a low hip and knee position.
When your hip and knee position is low, there is a big demand on your quads and your hips but in a position that is not replicated in the hip thrusts.
If Your Hips Rise Too Quickly
If your hips rise too quickly immediately once the barbell comes off the floor, you are avoiding loading your quadriceps muscles, and putting more loading demand on your posterior chain muscles (hamstrings, glutes, lower back).
People who suffer from this problem should avoid hip thrusts as this continues to reinforce your posterior chain muscles. What you need to do instead is focus on the quad or knee dominant exercises such as hack squat and front squats.
Other resources to check out regarding your hip and back position in the deadlift:
- The Best Hip Position For Deadlifts For Your Size & Build
- The Best Back Position For Deadlifts For Your Size & Build
- How To Fix Hips Shooting Up In The Deadlift (5 Tips)
How To Perform Hip Thrust (4 Steps)
The 4 steps to performing a hip thrust are:
- Step 1: Put your upper back on the bench
- Step 2: Load a barbell on the hips
- Step 3: Thrust hips through
- Step 4: Lower hips to the floor
Step 1: Put Your Upper Back On The Bench
First, you need to set up a bench in a place where it will not budge anywhere.
Sit down and lean on the bench press with your upper back and knees bent at right angles.
Keep your feet parallel to each other
Step 2: Load A Barbell On The Hips
Roll a barbell onto your hips with a barbell pad secured in the middle of the barbell.
This barbell pad makes it comfortable for you to thrust your hips against the barbell.
Load the desired amount of weight.
Step 3: Thrust Hips Through
Keep your arms straight and holding onto the barbell.
Ensure your lower back is flat, not rounded, or overextended.
Take a deep breath in and brace before thrusting your hips to the sky until your torso is parallel.
Step 4: Lower Hips To The Floor
Slowly return your hips to the floor and reset your breath.
Repeat the process for the number of the desired repetitions in your set.
Useful Technique Tips and Cues For Hip Thrust
There are some key pointers to help you get the most out of the hip thrust.
Here are some tips and cues you could use to reinforce good execution:
- Tuck your chin. Tucking your chin helps you avoid sticking your chest up and overextending your lower back. If you over-extend your lower back, you are going to get less engagement on your glutes.
- Ensure your shin is vertical when your hips are thrust up. This ensures that you keep maximum tension on the hip extensors i.e. the glutes. If your feet are too far away, you will feel it in the hamstrings. If your feet are too close, you will feel it in your quads.
- Push through your heels. Pushing through your heels helps maximize usage of your glutes as opposed to your quads.
Hip Thrust Variation For Deadlifts
- Hip Thrust w/ Hip Circle Band. This version of a hip thrust is performed with a hip circle band around the knees, which encourages more external rotation. This is helpful for people who perform sumo deadlifts.
- Hip Thrust w/ Adduction. This version of a hip thrust is performed with a solid object between the knees so that the adductors can be engaged more. This is helpful for people who perform conventional deadlifts.
- Single-Leg Hip Thrust. This version of a hip thrust is performed one leg at a time. This is great for people who are asymmetrical in their deadlift execution and hip shift. It helps them balance out the strength of their hips on each side.
- Do Hip Thrust Help Squats? (Science-Backed)
- Hip Thrust vs Deadlifts? Difference, Pros, Cons
- Don’t Feel Your Glutes Hip Thrusting? Try These 9 Tips
- 9 Best Barbell Hip Thrust Alternatives (With Pictures)
- Do Hip Thrusts Help Deadlifts? (Yes, Here’s How)
- Do Pull Ups Help The Deadlift?
- Do Good Mornings Help Deadlifts?
- Does Doing Conventional Deadlift Help Sumo Deadlift?
About The Author: Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach
Norman Cheung is a powerlifting coach and an accredited strength and conditioning coach under the UKSCA. He has been coaching powerlifting since 2012 and has been an IPF Team GB coach since 2016. He has experience with coaching a variety of lifters from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Along side coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at strongambitionscoaching.com