They may be similar in terms of muscle engagement but each has their own benefits as great exercises.
With so many exercises to choose from and so many influencers claiming certain ones will seriously boost your gains, it is important to keep an open mind and realize that while much of working out and getting fit is objective, on the whole it is really something more subjective. What works for one person may not work for another and on that goes, but finding the right exercises for you is important. The debate around the glute bridge and hip thrusts still remains as for which is better, but we wanted to dive into both of these as we put the glute bridge vs. hip thrusts up against one another to see who’s the ultimate victor.
What both of these have in common, and what we’ll explore a bit later on, is that they both involve similar muscle movements and engagements, being primarily a lower body exercise that works your core and low back. The main difference tends to be the amount of weight loaded where in the hip thrust exercise you can use a barbell to increase strength. Since both involve lifting the hips and squeezing your glutes, you do build great strength and stability in the lower body, but does one come out on top as king?
Let’s take a look at the glute bridge vs. hip thrust exercises and see which one’s are better for. We’ll chat about what they are, the benefits of each, and look into how to get these done properly and effectively. Ultimately, we may have an answer as to which one is better for boosting your desired gains.
What Is The Glute Bridge?
The glute bridge is an interesting exercise because it is also used as a stretch a lot of the time. Typically, this is done while laying on the ground where you really work to activate the glutes without overextending your hips. Done mainly as a bodyweight exercise, it can be used with weight to increase strength, but also resistance bands which can add some resistance to make this an effective exercise (1).
- Strong core: This requires real core engagement which will work on strengthening your core.
- Better posture: By building that core and working on low back pain, you will improve posture.
- Alleviate back pain: Building up that core will work to alleviate any unwanted pain.
- Great warm-up stretch or exercise: This can be done with or without weight for a great stretch or exercise.
Lying flat on the floor, have your feet around shoulder width apart and bend you knees. Engage your core and work to drive your hips up through your feet, really pushing upwards. Squeeze your glutes at the top and gently lower back down. Repeat for your desired amount of reps.
How About The Hip Thrust
The hip thrust is typically a loaded exercise where your back is resting on a bench or some sort of stable device. As a result of the added weight, it is vital to keep your core engaged so as to not add extra strain onto your low back. For those looking to increase strength and size while also boosting stability, the hip thrust exercise is really one to consider for your lower half gains (2).
- Better lower body lifts: By strengthening your legs and core you work to assist those bigger lifts.
- More power: Promote more explosiveness for better jumping and launching ability.
- Promote stability: Keep you more grounded with solid form to avoid unwanted injury.
- More toning: With increased weight and more muscle, you will start to shape and tone how you want.
Choose an elevated surface with your back against it and a barbell resting in your lap. Drive through your feet, hinging at the hips and lifting the weight up towards the sky. Squeeze your glutes at the top and return to the starting position. Repeat for your desired number of reps.
Main Difference Between The Glute Bridge Vs. Hip Thrusts
In reality, these two are very similar in terms of movements and muscle worked. The real difference lies in positioning of each exercise and the intended goal. For many, the glute bridge is a great warm-up and the hip thrust is the perfect weighted exercise to increase strength. Of course, you can make both a warm-up or exercise, but on the whole the glute bridge is more effective as a bodyweight movement and the hip thrust as a weighted one.
Which Is Better?
For those looking to tone and take it easy with weight for fear of injury or deloading purposes, the glute bridge is a great option for you. As a bodyweight exercise that is easy on your low back, this exercise is perfect for whatever you may need done during that pre-workout routine. When it comes to those who want to build strength and size, looking towards the hip thrust is most likely the way to go for it can really boost muscle growth as an effective weighted exercise (3). For the hip thrust, it is really important to stay engaged with your core for what can happen is the load will shift to your low back which you just don’t want. But all in all, the glute bridge is a great warm-up or rehabbing exercise and the hip thrust is a good muscle builder.
When it comes to the debate over the glute bridge vs. hip thrust exercises, at the end of the day, it is really all you make of it. For those looking to tone and have a lighter load, look to the glute bridge. For more weight and a bit more muscle gain, pack on the barbell and give the hip thrusts a go. Both are great and provide similar movements and muscle engagement so you can’t go wrong. It’s all just a matter of preference.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- Tobey, Kelcy; Mike, Jonathan (2018). “Single-Leg Glute Bridge”. (source)
- Neto, Walter K.; Vieira, This L.; Gama, Eliane F. (2019). “Barbell Hip Thrust, Muscular Activation and Performance: A Systematic Review”. (source)
- Neto, Walter K.; Soares, Enrico G.; Vieira, Thais L.; Aguiar, Rodolfo; et al. (2020). “Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review”. (source)