How to Do the Single-Leg Hip Thrust Workout to Train Your Glutes

YOUR BUTTOCKS ARE more than just eye candy for the rest of the gym no matter what you see on social media. The glutes are one of your strongest muscle groups, so blasting that butt with hard and heavy weights is more than good for your ego.

One of the most common and effective exercises for the glutes is the barbell hip thrust. Essentially, you stack a couple of 45s on each side of a barbell, get into position, and drive your hips toward the ceiling. But if you don’t have access to a lot of weights, there are other glute workout options — namely, the single-leg hip thrust.

Despite the massive stress reduction compared to the barbell hip thrust, this single-leg variation is a viable alternative for all types of gym-goers, he says men health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS

Who Should Do the Single-Leg Hip Thrust?

This is an exercise that pretty much anyone can not only do regularly, but also get great results. However, the single-leg hip thrust may be best for those who train at home or while traveling and are looking for a quick, effective workout.

With or without weights, the one-legged hip thrust can also be a great variation for athletes. With this move, not only will your glutes get a lot of attention, but you’ll also be working on hip extension and stability training. All of these factors make this an ideal warm-up move to activate the glutes, especially for runners.

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“I think of this as a core exercise — your core, abs, erector spinae, obliques, and glutes,” says Samuel. “They all come together to stabilize your spine.”

How to set up for a single leg hip thrust

In order to master the single leg hip thrust, it’s good to get a working understanding of standard hip thrusts.

  • Start by resting your shoulder blades on a solid platform with your feet apart – a bench, couch, or chair can work.
  • Once set up, remember to squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Keep your shins vertical and perpendicular to the floor and drive your hips toward the ceiling.

Pay attention to your foot position – too close in and you don’t get enough freedom of movement. Having both stretched out too far will take the strain off your glutes, and that’s not what you’re looking for, so aim for that sweet 90-degree point at top foot placement.

The main difference between the single leg and bilateral hip thrust setups is foot positioning. When getting into the single leg, you should start with your feet together on the floor. From there, lift one foot off the ground and keep your knee bent to simulate a runner’s position. Keep your hips straight towards the ceiling — avoid “tilting” — and drive the knee up and hold it on each rep. This will create an added bonus of anti-rotation work for your abs as well.


How to perform the single leg hip thrust

Once you’re done, the one leg hip thrust becomes nice and easy.

  • Rest your shoulder blades on a bench, couch, or other solid object, keep your feet close together, and your shins perpendicular to the floor.
  • Lower yourself to the ground
  • Pause for a moment while trying to look ahead the whole time.
  • Lift one foot off the ground.
  • Squeeze your glutes and drive up, extending one knee toward the sky. Hold the top position for about a second or two and focus on the top pressure. This is a repeat.
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Avoid arching your back. Instead, work on keeping your abs nice and tight before you ride up.

How to add a load to the single leg hip thrust

Standard Hip Thrusts is all about working with big loads. The single-leg hip thrust doesn’t have the same focus and is an effective bodyweight movement (especially if you’re focusing on squeezing your glutes to create tension). To add some weight and create a greater challenge, try holding a kettlebell or dumbbell (if you have one). Place the weight on one hip and hold it with one or even two hands for stability.

You won’t be working with a tremendous amount of weight, but adding some weight will give you some athletic benefits (and challenge your core even more).

When to do the single-leg hip thrust

There are many ways to incorporate the single leg hip thrust into your routine. If you’re a beginner, it’s wise to work on mastering the standard hip thrust before using this move regularly, which would eventually make a great addition to a bodyweight circuit.

For intermediates, this is a great warm-up to activate the glutes just prior to attacking the deadlift and squat. And while you may be used to using heavy weights with classic hip thrusts, you can still incorporate single-leg hip thrusts into your warm-up using just your bodyweight. It’s a great way to get your glutes burning and warm them up before squats or deadlifts.

One leg hip thrust sets and reps

Since this is a lighter weight exercise, three sets of higher reps – think 12 to 15 per side with minimal rest – should work well to see any benefits. These can be performed as a final movement to your bodyweight training.

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