Here at Men's Health we love the hip thrust. We've been featuring this move plus other battle-tested butt-building exercises as part of the #MHGluteProject with Bret "The Glute Guy" Contreras.
The barbell hip thrust is the king of glute exercises.
But dead weight isn't the only way to light your glutes on fire. Bands, or elastic resistance, are also an amazing ass-sculpting variation to throw into the mix.
The bands offer an ascending resistance that gives you peak tension when the glutes are maximally activated during full hip extension at the top of the movement.
Bands have the added benefit of being a lot easier to setup and provide a more time-efficient workout. Since the hips are the performance powerhouse of the human body, they have the potential to move around a lot of weight.
His glutes are so powerful that he pretty much needs every plate in the gym, and even then he needed bands to secure the plates to the barbell. Ha!
To use loads this heavy, it requires a lot of warmup sets and a whole lot of racking and un-racking the weight plates. With the band option you can quickly switch between levels of resistance and a simple warmup set or two will do the trick.
This isn't a knock on the barbell hip thrust; it's just another great example that every exercise has its pros and cons. That's why Bret and his clients incorporate both options into their glute training and you should too.
Bret is using a specialized piece of equipment he designed called the hip thruster that has band attachments, but you can also mimic this band setup by using a power rack (as shown in the video).
Another good hack according to Contreras is "criss-crossing a pair of heavy dumbbells on each side of you and then anchoring the ends of the band onto the lower dumbbells. When you just have single dumbbells on each side, they roll underneath you. You have to trap them by laying two dumbbells across each other in an X-shape."
Bret recommend 3 sets of 20 reps with as thick of a band as you can use to hit that rep target. The thicker the band, the more resistance it supplies. We recommend bands from ResistanceBandTraining.com.
Besides finding the right band resistance, there are a couple other key points Bret wants you to consider.
One, avoid going all the way down on each rep. This prevents you from resting at the bottom and puts more constant tension on the glutes to spur muscle growth via metabolic stress.
Two, be sure to squeeze your glutes hard at the top of each rep.
And three, as with all hip thrust variations, be sure to tuck your chin and keep your ribs and shoulders down for maximum glute activation and to prevent your lower back from getting involved.
Personally, I love doing pause reps with band hip thrusts, both on two legs and one leg. Hold the top of each rep for 2 to 4 seconds, contracting your glutes as hard as you can. Even a light band will light you up fast with this protocol.
So grab a band and start building a better butt today because #TheThrustIsAMust!