1 Legged Hip Thrust: Cleaning Up Technique and Coaching Cues

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Whether you refer to them as supine barbell bridges, barbell glute bridges, barbell hip thrusts, or what some of our pro-baseball guys like to call “slump busters” (give it a sec), there’s no mistaking that whatever your iteration, in recent years the exercise in question has grown in popularity and should be considered a staple in any well-designed strength training program.

Championed by strength coach Bret Contreras, and later highlighted in his book Strong Curves which he co-authored alongside the lovely Kellie Davis, the hip thrust has become a mainstay and often very popular exercise at Cressey Performance – and for good reason.

You’d be hard pressed to find any other exercise which targets the gluteal muscles, not to mention trains them in the often neglected anteroposterior load vector than the hip thrust/bridge.

Thing is:  a lot of people tend to butcher technique, akin to watching Jillian Michaels attempt to coach someone through a proper KB swing.  Which is to say – she’s not even close.

As much as I love the barbell hip thrust/bridge, I still have to be cognizant of implementing proper progressions when working with certain athletes and clients.  For many, throwing them in the gauntlet and forcing them to place a loaded barbell over their pelvis and asking them to thrust up may be a bit aggressive and altogether a raging catastrophe.

In the end, without taking someone through the proper progressions, I may be doing them a huge disservice.  Which is why I generally like to start people off with your garden variety 1-legged hip thrust .

While some will scoff at the notion (dude, I squat 300 lbs, eat beef jerky for breakfast, can grow a beard in three days, and drive a Chevy, trust me, I don’t need to do these! ), I’ve seen my fair share of strong peeps have to take a larger than expected piece of humble pie after trying these for the first time.

That said, I don’t want to sit here and discuss the benefits. For that you can head on over to Bret’s blog.  Rather I want to discuss some common mistakes people make when trying to execute the exercise.

In the brief video below I give a handful of coaching cues that I’ve found very useful in helping to clean up exercise technique.  I hope you find them useful!

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  • Robert Aguero-Hoffman

    Best ending to a video ever! “With the shirt off!” Seriously though, great basic cues that clean that exercise up a lot. Nice post!

  • Scott

    What happened there at the end?

    • TonyGentilcore

      hahahaha. Yeah, I was being an asshat and completely forgot to edit that out. Oh well. Now it’s there to stay.

      “We’ll do it live!”

  • Bret Contreras

    Good stuff as usual Tony the Tiger!!!!!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Thanks dude, always appreciate it when you chime in.

      Also, if you have a sec: what are YOUR thoughts on me flexing the opposing hip? Yay? Nay? I’,m dumb?

      • Bret Contreras

        Tony – totally agree. Biggest problem is momentum as you said, and it’s a matter of slowing them down to get end-range glute contraction. Then coming up onto toes, which you mentioned, and it’s solved by pushing through heel either with flat or dorsiflexed ankle. Then you have the head-neck movement that you referred to and the packed chin or neutral neck (head follows the hinge is brilliant) solves this. As to flexing the opposing hip, I do the exact same thing and teach my clients the same. So we’re in complete agreement my friend, and you’re pretty much the complete opposite of dumb ;)

        • TonyGentilcore

          Okay, whew. I’ve had several people email me asking about the opposing hip thing and I just feel it “locks” people in more and makes it less likely they’ll compensate with the lumbar spine. Glad to hear we’re on the same page.

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  • Sara

    I’m happy you sent this out in the newsletter! I signed up a while ago and never got anything and wondered why. I’ve started doing two-legged hip thrusts with my clients recently and they love it!

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