The Difference Between a Glute Bridge and a Hip Thrust

The Difference Between a Glute Bridge and a Hip Thrust

While people at Bodyplex do a lot of squats for building strong glutes, the glute bridge and hip thrust have become just as popular. Both exercises may appear similar at first glance, but they possess certain differences.

The glute bridge is usually done with the shoulders resting on the floor, while the hip thrust is performed with the shoulders positioned on a bench or platform. Hip thrusts are generally loaded with weight, so it’s more of a strength training exercise. On the other hand, glute bridges are often executed as bodyweight movements, although in some cases they can also be weighted.

Benefits of the Hip Thrust

To perform a hip thrust, begin in a seated position with your knees and feet flat on the floor, while your shoulder blades (not your neck) rest against a bench. You can add weight if necessary. Squeeze your glutes and core, then lift your hips until your back is parallel to the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds before going back to your original position.

  • Greater Range of Motion. Unlike the glute bridge, the hip thrust offers an increased range of motion due to the elevated back position. This extended range of motion contributes to greater muscle activation, leading to enhanced strength gains.
  • Building Serious Strength. The hip thrust is renowned as one of the most effective exercises for targeting the glutes. You can do it with various forms of weight, like dumbbells and kettlebells, or even medicine balls.
  • Superior Glute Activation. Research published in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics suggests that hip thrusts recruit more glute muscle fibers than squats. This study compared muscle activation between the barbell back squat and the weighted hip thrust in 13 trained women, indicating that it is superior for building glute strength.

Benefits of the Glute Bridge

To perform a glute bridge, lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your sides with palms facing down. Lift your hips off the ground, engaging your core and glutes until your knees, hips, and shoulders align in a straight line. Hold this position for a few seconds before lowering back down.

  • Variations. The glute bridge offers numerous variations, such as the single-leg bridge and banded bridge kick. These variations can be performed with or without added weight. However, the glute bridge is typically utilized as a bodyweight activation exercise, focusing on warming up the glutes before progressing to exercises with greater range of motion and weight.
  • Proper Glute Activation. Glute bridges play a crucial role in teaching individuals how to activate their glute muscles effectively. It helps individuals access and utilize their existing glute strength by facilitating proper glute activation.
  • Relief for Hip Flexor Pain. Individuals who spend extended periods sitting, such as desk workers and commuters, often experience tight hip flexors. This tightness arises from under-utilized glute muscles, which can lead to hip flexor pain.

Performing slow and controlled glute bridges as part of your routine can provide long-lasting relief from tight hip flexors.

Choosing Between the Glute Bridge and Hip Thrust

So, when should you opt for the glute bridge or the hip thrust in your exercise routines? Both exercises offer benefits, but here are some instances where one may be a better choice for you:

To Warm Up: Glute Bridge

The glute bridge serves as an effective glute and hamstring activation exercise. Use unloaded glute bridges to “wake up” these muscles before performing hip hinge exercises like deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and good mornings. Failing to activate your glutes before a hip hinge exercise can lead to lower back compensation and potential lower back issues over time.

To Work on Mobility: Hip Thrust

The hip thrust requires a greater range of motion compared to the glute bridge. It may be more challenging for individuals with limited hip mobility, which is common among those who sit for long periods. Incorporating hip thrusts into your workout can help improve hip mobility over time. Start by working through the range of motion without adding weight, gradually progressing to weighted hip thrusts to strengthen your glutes within this newfound range of motion.

If You’re a Runner: Glute Bridge

Many runners struggle with activating their glutes properly. Weak glutes can lead to knee and hip pain as other parts of the body compensate for the lack of glute engagement. Prior to running, try performing two sets of 10 to 15 reps of glute bridges to “turn on” your glutes, resulting in more power per stride and potentially faster times.

To Build Strength: Hip Thrust

If your goal is to strengthen your glutes and make significant gains, the hip thrust is the preferred exercise. As mentioned earlier, the hip thrust activates the glutes to a greater extent than squats. Additionally, the versatility of the hip thrust allows for various loading options, making it endlessly customizable to challenge yourself as you progress.

With No Equipment: Glute Bridge

One advantage of the glute bridge is that it requires no equipment or setup. In contrast, the hip thrust requires a bench or box for back support. While the strength gains may be slightly less due to the shorter range of motion, you can still get stronger by performing loaded glute bridges. Increase the rep count to fatigue your muscles, as glute bridges are often done with bodyweight or lighter weights.

Incorporating both glute bridges and hip thrusts into your workout routine is highly recommended for a well-rounded glute-building exercise regime. Variety is key to challenge your muscles in different ways and avoid plateaus. Utilize glute bridges for warm-ups and hip thrusts as part of your strength circuit. Remember that a comprehensive training program should also include exercises targeting other muscle groups.

Learn more about the glute bridge and hip thrusts here:

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