Hip Thrust Alternatives: 8 Exercises to Build Your Glutes and Hamstrings

If you want to make your glutes and hamstrings strong, you might think of doing hip thrusts. This exercise is famous for targeting the big muscle in your bottom, called the gluteus maximus, and also works on other areas like your thighs.

But not all exercises work for everyone. Some people need different moves to build their muscles.

Hip thrusts have big benefits. They can help you jump higher and run faster because they make your hips move better. You can even stand up from a chair easier when your glutes are strong.

If hip thrusts are tough on your body or just feel wrong, don’t worry! There are eight other great exercises that can take its place.

Kent Nilson showed us some cool moves on November 2, 2023 that don’t hurt our hips as much but still give our muscles a good workout. Moves like the glute bridge and kettlebell swing are super choices for building power without too much stress on the back.

These alternatives help different parts of our bodies work together smoothly while we do things like play sports or carry groceries home from the store. Now let’s get ready to learn about these awesome new ways to train those important muscles in our bottoms and legs! Let’s go find out how these eight exercises can shape up your routine!

Understanding the Hip Thrust

An athlete performing a hip thrust exercise in a gym.

Understanding the Hip Thrust involves delving into the biomechanics and impact of this pivotal exercise, shedding light on how it can profoundly enhance your lower body strength. It’s a movement centered on hip extension that effectively engages the muscles crucial for both aesthetics and functional athleticism.

What is a Hip Thrust?

A hip thrust is an exercise that makes your glute muscles stronger. You sit on the ground with a barbell across your hips and a bench behind you. Your upper back rests on the bench, and then you push up with your hips, lifting the barbell.

This move works out not just your glutes but also other parts of your lower body.

To do this exercise safely, it’s important to use the muscles in your butt to lift and not just go through the motions. It helps build up all the muscles around your pelvis like the gluteus maximus, giving you more power for sports or everyday things like climbing stairs or running.

Muscles Targeted by the Hip Thrust

The hip thrust is a powerful move for your lower body, especially your backside. It works the gluteal muscles hard, which includes the big muscle of your buttocks known as the gluteus maximus.

This exercise also strengthens your hamstrings at the back of your thighs. Plus, it’s good for the muscles in your core that help keep you stable.

Your core gets a workout because you have to hold it tight while doing a hip thrust. Your body has to stay solid like a plank so you don’t sag or arch too much. The movement also hits smaller butt muscles, such as the gluteus medius and minimus.

These muscles help with moving your legs away from the center of your body. When you pick up weight during this exercise – like using barbells – other parts of your legs get stronger too, including parts around your knees and feet.

The Benefits of Training Your Glutes

A person performing a squat in a gym with exercise equipment.

Training your glutes goes beyond aesthetic appeal; it’s a pivotal aspect of achieving optimal body function and performance. Strengthened glute muscles contribute significantly to your overall stability, power in movements, and can even alleviate lower back pain, enhancing both daily activities and athletic pursuits.

Unparalleled Muscle Growth

Working your glutes leads to amazing muscle growth. They are a big group of muscles, and when you work them out, they get stronger and bigger. This is great for both how you look and your health.

Strong glutes can help with things like running faster, lifting heavier objects, and even just standing up straight.

Exercises like the glute bridge make your behind muscles work hard and grow. The same goes for hyperextensions which also target other areas in your lower body such as hamstrings. Cable pull-throughs give these muscles a tough workout too, keeping tension on them so they become strong over time.

All these exercises build strong legs that can do more than before!

Promotes Stability

Strong glutes do more than just look good—they help you stay balanced too. Training your glutes gives you a solid base for all kinds of movements, like walking, standing up, and playing sports.

It’s not just about the power in your legs; it’s also about how well they can hold you steady when life tries to tip you over.

Good stability from strong glute muscles means fewer falls and better support for your whole body. This is really important as we get older or are active in sports that need quick moves and changes in direction.

So by doing exercises for your butt muscles, you’re helping keep your body stable no matter what comes at you!

Enhanced Fitness and Athletic Performance

With increased stability from strong glutes, your body is ready to tackle higher levels of fitness and take on more athletic challenges. Training with hip thrust alternatives not only sculpts your backside but also amps up your overall power and speed.

These moves help you jump higher, run faster, and lift heavier by focusing on the muscles that do the most work during these activities.

Each exercise laid out in this guide aims to maximize muscle activation in both the glutes and hamstrings. This focus ensures you are building strength where it counts, making it easier for you to excel in sports or just enjoy everyday tasks with greater ease.

Following step-by-step instructions will lead to better form which translates into improved performance—whether that’s smashing personal records at the gym or scoring a new goal in soccer.

Identifying a Good Hip Thrust Alternative

A home gym with resistance band and barbells.

A good hip thrust alternative does the same job: it works your glutes and hamstrings. You want moves that also make these muscles strong and help you move better in daily life. Look for exercises where you can press your hips upwards or pull them back from different angles.

These could be done with machines, weights or just your body.

Choose alternatives that fit what you have access to and match your fitness level. If a gym is not available, home exercises like glute bridges can do wonders. For those who frequent the gym, weighted squats might be more up their alley.

The key is to keep your muscles working without hurting yourself. Always pick moves that feel right and keep pushing through each rep with controlled movement.

Top 8 Hip Thrust Alternatives

A resistance band stretched across a park bench in a natural setting.

Discover a diverse range of hip thrust alternatives that will invigorate your glute and hamstring training routine, each designed to deliver the muscle-building benefits you desire without needing a hip thrust setup—stay tuned for how these exercises can redefine your leg days.

Glute Bridge

The Glute Bridge makes your glutes strong. You lie on your back for this exercise and push your hips up. Your feet should be flat and knees bent. Keep pushing until only your shoulders and feet are touching the floor, making a straight line from knees to shoulders.

Squeeze your glutes tight at the top.

To get even more from Glute Bridges, hold at the top for a moment before you come down. Make sure you lift using just your glute muscles. This move is much like the barbell hip thrust but doesn’t need any weights.

It helps work out the same big muscle groups in your hips and upper legs.


Moving from the simplicity of glute bridges, let’s focus on hyperextensions. This exercise is great for working your lower back and hamstrings along with your glutes. You typically perform this move on a hyperextension bench by hinging at the waist and lifting your upper body until it’s in line with your lower body.

It’s important to brace your core and squeeze those glutes at the top to get the most out of it.

Hyperextensions not only help build strength but also improve posture by targeting the erector spinae, which supports your spine. They add variety to workouts without needing heavy weights, making them safe for beginners yet effective for seasoned lifters too.

Keep control throughout the movement and focus on form rather than speed for best results.

Reverse Hyperextension

Reverse hyperextension is a great exercise for those who want to work their glutes and hamstrings without putting too much pressure on their lower back. You lie face down on a bench or stable surface, lift your legs behind you, and squeeze your glutes at the top.

This move helps build muscle in the back of your body where many of us need it most.

It’s also gentle on your hip joints because you’re not using heavy weights. People like this exercise because it targets the lower back and can help make the muscles there stronger along with the gluteus maximus.

The best part is that reverse hyperextensions don’t hurt your hips or require very heavy weights to be effective.

Cable Pull-Through

Cable pull-through is a solid choice for working your glutes and hamstrings. You do not have to worry about hurting your back, which can happen with heavy hip thrusts. This exercise lets you use a cable machine to get the muscles in the back of your legs and bottom really strong.

To do this move right, stand facing away from the cable machine with the rope attachment between your legs. Bend forward at the hips while keeping your back straight. Then stand up tall and squeeze your glutes hard at the top.

Try 2-3 sets of around 12 reps after doing other exercises in your workout. It’s good for getting those muscles working without being too hard on other parts of your body.

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings are a great move for your workout. They get your glutes and hips working hard. You’ll need to use a hip hinge technique, which means you bend at the hips and keep your back straight.

This exercise helps turn on the powerful muscles in your posterior chain, that’s the back side of your body including the glutes.

To do kettlebell swings right, stand with feet apart holding the kettlebell with both hands. Bend at the hips and swing it between your legs then thrust up using your hips to swing it up to shoulder height.

It’s important not to lift with arms but push through with glutes and hips instead. Using more weight or doing lots of reps can really help make those muscles stronger.


Step-ups are a powerful move for your lower body, especially your glutes and hamstrings. You do step-ups by placing one foot on a bench or step and pushing through your heel to lift your body up.

This exercise uses many muscles at once – just like hip thrusts. But it is easier on the hips because you don’t have to lie down or use heavy weights.

Doing step-ups makes your legs stronger one at a time. This helps if one leg is weaker than the other. Make sure you stand tall and keep your shoulders back while doing this exercise.

Now let’s look at how barbell back squats can also be a great alternative for building strong glutes and hamstrings.

Barbell Back Squat

Barbell back squats are a powerful exercise for building up your glutes and hamstrings. You put a barbell on your shoulders, right behind your neck. Stand with feet hip-width apart, then bend at the knees as if sitting in a chair, keeping chest up and spine straight.

Squat down low before pushing through heels to stand back up. This move is not just about strength; it also tests balance and coordination.

This squat variation hits many muscles all at once. Your glutes get a great workout along with your quads and calves doing the heavy lifting. Plus, it’s good for powerlifters or anyone wanting to add serious muscle mass because it allows you to use heavier weights safely as part of resistance training.

Remember to keep form tight to avoid injuries and get the most from each rep!

Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a powerful move for targeting your glutes and hamstrings. You do this exercise by placing one foot behind you on a bench or step, then squatting down with the front leg.

Your back leg gets a stretch while your front leg works to push you up. This workout can be tougher by holding dumbbells in your hands or putting a barbell across your shoulders.

Each side should get 6-15 reps, making sure both legs get trained well. The Bulgarian split squat not only builds muscle but also helps with balance and coordination since it’s a unilateral exercise, working one side at a time.

It’s great for folks who want to make their lower body stronger without needing lots of equipment. Just grab some free weights and find a spot to rest your foot; then you’re ready to go!

How to Perform Hip Thrust Alternatives

Delve into the nuances of executing the top 8 hip thrust alternatives with precision, as we guide you through meticulous, step-by-step instructions tailored to fortify your glute and hamstring strength—continue reading for expert techniques that promise to elevate your training regimen.

Instructions for each exercise

Building strong glutes and hamstrings doesn’t need to be hard. Here are ways to work these muscles without doing hip thrusts.

  • Glute Bridge:
  1. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Push through your heels and lift your hips up.
  3. Squeeze your glutes at the top, then lower back down.
  • Hyperextension:
  1. Use a hyperextension bench, facing the floor.
  2. Cross arms in front of you or place hands behind head.
  3. Bend at the waist, lower down, then lift back up.
  • Reverse Hyperextension:
  1. Lie face down on a bench so hips are at the edge.
  2. Hold onto the bench, extend legs up and back.
  • Cable Pull-Through:
  1. Stand in front of a low pulley with a rope attachment.
  2. Reach between legs to grab the rope, face away from machine.
  3. Pull the rope through legs and extend hips forward.
  • Kettlebell Swing:
  1. Place a kettlebell between feet planted on the ground.
  2. Bend knees slightly, hinge at hips to grab kettlebell.
  3. Swing it up by thrusting hips forward and stand tall.
  • Step-Up:
  1. Find a sturdy box or step that’s knee height.
  2. Place one foot on it, push through heel to step up.
  3. Return to start position and switch legs.
  • Barbell Back Squat:
  1. Rest a barbell on shoulders behind neck carefully.
  2. Stand back up by pushing through heels.
  • Bulgarian Split Squat:
  1. Choose an elevated surface; put one foot behind you on it
  2. Drop into a squat with front leg; make sure knee doesn’t go past toe
  3. Push through front heel to rise back up

Common Mistakes During Glute Workouts

Perfecting glute workouts often involves navigating a minefield of potential errors that can hinder progress and cause injury. Awareness and correction of these common missteps are crucial for maximizing the effectiveness of your lower body routine while maintaining safe exercise practices.

Lifting Excessive Weight

Picking up too much weight can hurt your muscles and lead to injuries. It’s tempting to use big weights so you feel stronger, but this is risky. You might do the move wrong and not help your muscles grow properly.

It’s better to choose a weight that lets you exercise with good form. This way, your glutes will work hard without hurting yourself.

Keep the weights light enough that you can control them well. Focus on squeezing those muscles correctly during each lift or step of the exercise. With time, as you get stronger, you can slowly add more weight to keep challenging yourself safely.

Incorrect Foot Positioning

Just as lifting too much weight can trouble your workout, so can standing wrong. Your feet are the base for many glute exercises, and where you put them matters a lot. If you stand with your feet too close or too far apart, or if they point in the wrong direction, you might work out your thighs or harmstrings instead of your glutes.

Keep your feet flat on the ground and about hip-width apart when doing these workouts. This helps make sure you’re focusing mainly on the right muscles – those big glute ones! And don’t let your knees cave in; keep them over your toes to work out safely and well.

Failing to Maintain a Neutral Spine

Keeping your spine straight is key when you work out your glutes. If your back rounds or arches too much, it can hurt you and not help your muscles as much. Picture holding a long rod along your back while you exercise.

It should touch the top of your head, mid-back, and tailbone all at once. This will tell you if you’re doing it right.

You need to make sure that this straight line stays the same as you move in exercises like bridges or squats. Keep looking forward to avoid tilting your head up or down too much; this helps keep everything aligned just right.

Next up, let’s look at how adding more weights than we’re ready for can also be a problem during glute workouts.

Benefits of Hip Thrust Alternatives

Exploring hip thrust alternatives can offer a myriad of benefits, from reducing the strain on your lower back to engaging multiple muscle groups for increased hypertrophy, all while catering to potential discomforts that may arise with traditional thrusts—dive into the details to unlock these advantages in your glute and hamstring training.

Avoids Hip Discomfort

If you find hip thrusts hard on your hips, you’re not alone. Some people feel pain when they do this move. The good news is there are other exercises to work your glutes without hurting your hips.

Moves like the reverse hyperextension are gentle and still get those muscles working. They help build strong glutes while keeping your hips happy.

Choosing alternatives to hip thrusts can give your body a break from heavy lifting. Exercises such as the hyperextension focus on lower back and hamstrings too, but with less weight.

This means you can train those areas without adding extra pressure on your hips. Plus, these moves are great for folks of all fitness levels who want to keep their workouts comfortable and effective.

Increased Muscle Recruitment

Switching to hip thrust alternatives can also lead to working more muscles. Some exercises ask for extra help from different parts of your body. This means you use more muscle groups at the same time.

For example, during a step-up or Bulgarian split squat, not only are your glutes on fire, but your core and leg muscles join in too. They work together to keep you balanced and strong as you move.

Using many muscle groups helps make them all stronger and can improve how they work together. It’s like having a team where each player gets better because they’re all practicing together.

These exercises are great because they mix things up for your muscles, making sure every part gets its turn to grow stronger and perform well.

Reduces Lower Back Stress

Choosing hip thrust alternatives can ease stress on your lower back. Many people feel pain in their lower backs when they do heavy lifting or certain exercises wrong. With movements like glute bridges and reverse hyperextensions, you work out your glutes without putting too much pressure on your back.

These options are great because they help keep your spine safe while still building strong muscles.

Doing these exercises helps spread the load across more muscles, not just the ones in your lower back. This way, you avoid overworking any one part of your body and reduce the chance of hurting yourself.

Your whole body gets stronger and better at moving when you train this way. Lower back stress goes down, which means you can keep working out safely and effectively.

Warming Up for Glute Training

Before diving into your glute-focused regimen, it’s essential to prepare the muscles for the stress of weight training. A thorough warm-up increases blood flow, enhances flexibility, and primes your body for peak performance in exercises designed to strengthen the posterior chain.

Light Cardio

Light cardio warms up your body and gets your blood pumping. Think of it as getting your muscles ready for a big event. When you do light jogging, cycling, or jumping jacks, you are preparing your glutes and hamstrings for the workout ahead.

It’s like turning on the engine of a car before going on a long drive – it helps everything run more smoothly.

Doing this kind of warm-up can help you move better and protect against injury when lifting weights or doing tough exercises. Your muscles get to wake up gently and be all set for those squats, lunges, and other moves that make them stronger.

Now let’s talk about how to keep going with mobility work after that good start with light cardio.

Mobility Work

Mobility work is key for keeping your body ready for physical activity. It helps you move better and can cut down on injury risk. Before you start training your glutes, take time to do exercises that make your muscles more flexible and able to move well.

Warm up with moves like leg swings and hip circles that get the blood flowing in areas around your hips and legs.

You can also try a stability ball to help wake up those muscles gently before heavy lifting. Using tools like bands or performing dynamic stretches ensures every part of your body gets attention.

This kind of prep makes sure you’re all set to tackle harder exercises safely while getting the most out of them for building strength in those important muscle groups.

Exercise-Specific Movements

Before you work on your glutes, it’s smart to get your body ready with movements that match the exercises you’ll do. If you’re going to do a glute bridge or a Bulgarian split squat, try moving in ways that feel like those exercises but without any weights.

This helps wake up the right muscles and gets blood flowing where you need it. Think about stepping up onto a low box for a few reps if step-ups are part of your plan, or just gently swing your legs back and forth to get ready for kettlebell swings.

These actions make sure everything is set to go when it’s time to start the real workout.

Now let’s talk about stirring things up with different moves so all parts of your glutes get some action. Setting aside time for hip abduction can help work parts of your bum muscles that other exercises might miss.

You could stand and lift one leg out to the side, then switch after some reps. Also bend at the hips like you’re going to pick something up from the ground if Romanian deadlifts are on your list later – this way, when they come around during training, you’ll perform better because those motions will already be familiar.


You learned about 8 great ways to work on your glute and hamstring muscles without doing hip thrusts. These moves can make your bottom and legs strong. They’re good for you and easy to do in most gyms or at home.

Are you ready to try some of these exercises? Think about how they fit into your workouts. Want more help or ideas? Look for videos, apps, or a trainer who knows about fitness. Remember, with the right moves, you can build a powerful lower body starting today!

Tips: The single-leg cable glute kickback is indeed a fantastic exercise for targeting the gluteus maximus. Its emphasis on hip extension helps activate and strengthen the glutes effectively. It’s a great way to isolate and engage those muscles, especially for those looking to build strength and definition in that area.