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July 27, 2023

How to Upgrade Your Hip Thrusts

Who doesn’t want a plump rump? Here’s how to upgrade your hip thrusts so you can maximize glute gains.

If you don’t want shaped glutes, then this blog is not for you… 

Here’s How To Upgrade Your Hip Thrusts To Maximize Glute Gains

Today’s blog is going to be a game changer for you if you: 

  • Have pancake butt and you don’t want one.
  • If you are blessed with a big behind and simply want to build more muscle mass / shape it.
  • Are focused on performance and you simply enjoy the hip thrust.

My name is Annie Miller, certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and I help you learn as you train and enjoy your lifts again. 

So the body that the good Lord gave me was directly derived from the ruler family, just straight and flat as a board in all directions. Which means that any shape that I have been able to create on my frame has been through building muscle.

This approach to upgrade your hip thrusts that you are going to learn about today won’t give you glutes overnight, but it should help you feel your glutes more! You tell me once you try it after reading this blog. 

Prefer to learn on video? Watch this same content below: 

How To Upgrade Your Hip Thrusts 

As I said, this is not an overnight transition. Building your glutes is like building any other muscle group. It will require time and intensity. It also largely depends on your genetics as far as what shape the muscle is going to take on through training. 

This picture is about a six-year gap from no glutes to what I would consider shaped glutes. Certainly not the largest, but still significant growth. 

Note: This came through performance goals. Aesthetics was not my focus and typically isn’t.

Quick Review Of A Standard Hip Thrust Setup

Before we get into how to upgrade your hip thrust, I do want to quickly review a standard hip thrust setup. Regardless of what type of bench you’re using, it should be at or below your knee.

This particular bench looks accurate, but for my preference, it’s a little bit high. So I would put something underneath my feet to slightly bring my feet up closer to the height of the bench. 

When setting up on the floor, the bench may actually be a little bit higher than you’ll want it when you are doing the hip thrust. Generally speaking, you’re going to want the bench to be hitting at just above the band of your sports bra.

As far as your foot position goes in terms of width, that’s going to be personal so you can do whatever feels best for you. 

When you are in your top position, these things should be in place: 

  • Eyes facing forward
  • Shins perpendicular to the ground
  • Thighs should roughly be parallel to the floor 

This helps you get into a full hip extension, and you’ll want to enter a slight posterior pelvic tilt.

The Hip Thrust Is A Hip Extension Exercise

Your primary hip extensors are your glutes, specifically the gluteus maximus. This is why the thrust tends to provide rounded glutes if trained properly with the right intensity and volume. 

Now, your secondary and third extensors are your hamstrings and your adductors or your inner thighs. So if you feel those working in addition to your glutes, that’s okay.

At the end of the blog, I will let you know what to do if you are primarily feeling your hamstrings, your quads, or your adductors versus your glutes.

Upgrade Your Hip Thrust With These Small Changes: 

To upgrade your hip thrusts, you’re going to need three different things: 

1. A bench that can decline in some way, shape or form, or access to some kind of wedge, specifically made for hip thrusting. 

2. You also need two wedges that are going to go underneath your feet.

3. Some kind of mini band or glute band to go around your legs.


As you can see in this picture, I’ve declined the bench. Most actual single unit hip thrust machines are built this way. You can also buy a hip thrust wedge. This just ensures that your shoulders are going to be lower than or equal to the height of your knee. This is why I mentioned above about wanting the bench to be at or below your knee level. 

You want the shoulders below the knees because that ensures that you are not using your low back and that you’re actually using your glutes. 

The wedges underneath your feet provide a slightly different force transfer, which I think you will feel if you give this a try. 

Play with your foot position as far as how wide your feet are and the foot angle turned slightly out or straightforward. Wherever you feel your glutes the most is the position that you’re going to want to use.

You can add the band around your knees as another option. 

This adds a little bit of abduction, maybe some external rotation, which just adds more tension to gluteus maximus as well as your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.

Once you have your setup with these new tactics in place, your actual hip thrust still should have those universal things that we talked about already. 

  • Bench is going to be at or below your knee, ideally set up right above the strap of your sports bra. 
  • Eyes are going to be straightforward at the top and the bottom of the hip thrust. 
  • Your shins should be vertical or perpendicular to the floor. 
  • Thighs should be parallel to the floor or close to. 
  • At the top of the hip thrust, enter just a slight posterior tilt to ensure that you are getting that full hip extension at the top. 

Troubleshooting With Thrusts

Feeling your hip thrusts in your quads: If you feel this, I would guess that your feet are too far underneath you. Move your feet away a little bit forward and see if you feel more glute or hamstring with that change. 

Now, if you’re feeling the opposite and you feel it mostly in your hamstrings, then pull your feet underneath you just a tad. 

Pro Tip: Video yourself so you can see if your shins are vertical or if you need to move your feet further away or closer to you if you are feeling your hip thrust in your adductors. 

This is really common to experience. Remember, your adductors are your inner thighs. They’re kind of like your third string players.

Extending your hips: This could just be that your glutes are getting fatigued, so the adductors are coming in to help. It’s okay to feel your adductors, but if you are primarily feeling them… I would play with your foot width and angle in which your feet are at.

I don’t necessarily have a fix all for this, but that is the area of the movement that I would suggest playing with to see if you can get into a position where you feel your glutes more. 

In addition to playing with the foot position (the width and the angle that your feet are at), you might also play with putting that band around your thighs. See if a little bit of abduction helps take away from the stress on the adductors. 


When you upgrade your hip thrusts, it’s a game-changer in building strong and shapely glutes. It requires dedication and the right setup, such as using a declined bench or wedges and a glute band. 

Troubleshooting any issues with foot positioning can help optimize the exercise. Remember, progress takes time, so stay committed to your goals and enjoy the journey to a plump rump and a stronger posterior chain. Happy hip thrusting!

Join The Discussion: 

If you are currently hip thrusting, I would love to know how many days per week! Drop a comment below.
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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