When looking to grow a bigger, stronger backside, the barbell hip thruster is a go-to exercise as it targets the gluteal muscles better than any other lower-body movements.

“The No. 1 reason most lifters perform barbell hip thrust is it builds more gluteal muscle, strength, and power than just about any hip extension exercise you can do in the gym,” explains Shane McLean, A.C.E certified personal trainer and fitness writer.

Even if a rounder backside isn’t your goal, a host of benefits come with strengthening the largest muscle in your body, the gluteus maximus) “Improving glute strength by doing the hip thrust improves the core, pelvis, and lower back stabilization for enhanced performance in and out of the gym,” says McLean.

From increased spinal health to better athletic performance, a stronger posterior chain lessens your chance of injury and can ward off lower back pain.

While barbell squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and the Olympic lifts are all great exercises, McLean states they are technical and take some time to learn. “The barbell hip thrust is less technical and easier to perform than heavily loaded movements.”

Although hip thrusters are fairly easy to perform, common mistakes (beyond faulty form) may be keeping your posterior chain from reaching its full potential.

Here, McLean provides helpful insight into what common hip thurst mistakes you may be making and how to correct them.

Beginner performing a hip thruster mistake
Daniel PO

4 Hip Thruster Mistakes and How to Fix Them

1. Force-Feeding

One of the biggest errors with the barbell hip thrust is lifers force-feeding the move and training through extreme discomfort. Not all exercises are meant for all lifters, the barbell hip thrust included. Even when they perform the movement correctly, they still feel pain.

Fit It: McLean’s advice is not to fall in love with exercises but with movements, as plenty of other great hip extension movements build the glutes.

2. Watch Your Feet

Incorrect foot position is the hardest to pick up on because you cannot see your feet with a barbell across your hips. If the feet are underneath your hamstrings, it focuses on the quads, and your heels come off the floor. When your feet are too far away from your knees, it reduces your leverage and how much weight you’ll lift.

Fit It: A 90-degree knee angle is needed here. A common solution is to get someone to observe from the side to tell you if your knees and feet are in the correct position.

3. Don’t Sell Your Glutes Short

The deeper the hip flexion you get into and then locking out with only your glutes, the more glute gains you’ll earn. Reducing the range of motion and avoiding full flexion and extension, where muscle tension is highest, might be great for your ego, but you are selling your glutes short.

Fit It: If hip mobility is a problem, work on that first. If it isn’t lighting the load, getting your hips close to the ground and into a full extension on each rep must be the goal.

4. Finishing With the Lower Back

Locking out with your lower back and not your glutes is a common issue. If “ego lifting” gets in the way, you lack decent hip mobility, or the glutes are not strong enough to lift the weight, which are causes for lockout issues. How do you know when this is happening? Don’t worry; the lower back will let you know.

Fix It: Form a better mind-muscle connection with your glutes and focus on squeezing them together at lockout. Do this by lighting the load and keeping your ego in check. Furthermore, consider driving the bar backward over your head at lockout rather than toward the roof.

Now that you have these fool-proof tips, here’s a reminder of how to perform the Hip Thruster flawlessly.

Male fitness trainer teaching his client how to perform a hip thruster correctly
Dusan Petkovic

How to Perform The Hip Thruster Exercise Flawlessly Every Time:

1. Place your upper back on a bench with the barbell across your hips.

2. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, close to your glutes.

3. Drive your hips upward, squeezing your glutes and engaging your core and abs. (Count to 1 before descending).

4. Lower your hips back to the starting position and repeat.

Good to Know:

  • Place padding on your barbell to prevent it from digging into your hips.
  • If you’re new to barbell hip thrusters, practice the move several times without the barbell to familiarize yourself.
  • You can use a weight plate or dumbbell instead of a barbell when building strength and perfecting form.