14 Best Hip Thrust Alternatives

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: December 13, 2022

The hip thrust is a popular exercise for building bigger, stronger glutes. And you’ve probably seen people doing it at the gym or on social media.

But not every gym has the right equipment for hip thrusts. You might be looking for an alternative or just some additional glute exercises.

In this article, I will show you some of the best hip thrust alternative exercises to add to your booty-building routine or glute-focused workouts.

Hip Thrust Alternative

What Is a Hip Thrust?

The hip thrust is a lower body exercise that targets the gluteus maximus or glutes. It involves driving your hips upward while lying with your shoulders on a bench and your feet on the floor.

Hip Thrust Muscles Worked

During the hip thrust exercise, your feet and shoulders remain fixed in one position, and only your hips move. This hip hinge movement involves the glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors.

But you may also feel this exercise slightly in your quads as pressing your feet into the floor is like an isometric leg extension. And you will feel your abs and core muscles engaging as you hold your abdomen straight.

Hip Thrust Variations

There are a few types of hip thrusts, each requiring a unique piece of equipment.

Barbell Hip Thrust

The most common hip thrust variation involves placing a standard barbell across the front of your hips to add resistance. You may want to use a foam pad to make it more comfortable.

Other free-weight hip thrust variations include using a short straight bar, EZ bar, dumbbells, or weight plates to add resistance. Although you could use just your body weight at first.

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Smith Machine Hip Thrust

The Smith machine hip thrust is identical to the barbell variation except that the bar travels on vertical linear bearings. With the movement path fixed, it’s a little easier to balance the bar on your hips.

However, it’s more important to place the bench in the right position to ensure a proper range of motion. And you probably still want to use a pad to protect your hips.

Smith Machine Hip Thrust Alternative

Machine Hip Thrust

Some gyms have a hip thrust machine with a seat/backrest and a seat belt or pad that straps to your hips. In addition, you can increase resistance by adding weight plates on either side.

The benefit of the hip thrust machine is that it’s designed to target your glutes, and you can generally lift more weight without discomfort. Unfortunately, however, most gyms don’t have this equipment.

Machine Hip Thrust Alternative

13 Hip Thrust Alternative Exercises

Now you know what a hip thrust is and all the different ways you can do it. So it’s time to jump into some hip thrust alternative exercises that target your glutes.

1. Glute Bridge

The glute bridge is much like a hip thrust, except you perform this exercise while lying on the floor. Starting from the ground slightly reduces the range of motion but enables you to target the glutes from a different angle.

You can do glute bridges with just your body weight. And make them more challenging by doing them with one leg at a time, as illustrated below.

Glute Bridge Hip Thrust Alternative

2. Glute Kickback

Another single-leg hip thrust alternative is called the glute kickback. The bodyweight version of this exercise starts on your hands and knees. Then you extend one leg straight back by squeezing your glutes.

As shown below, you can add resistance by performing standing glute kickbacks with a cable attached to one ankle.

3. Donkey Kicks

Donkey kicks are like glute kickbacks, except you keep your knee bent at roughly 90 degrees the whole time. This bent-leg position slightly changes how your glutes activate and makes them feel slightly different from straight-leg kickbacks.

Donkey Kick Hip Thrust Alternative

4. Cable Pull Through

The cable pull-through is another hip thrust alternative that replicates the hip-hinging movement.

Set the cable pulley at the lowest position for this exercise with a rope handle attached. Now stand with your back to the cable and hold the rope between your thighs with palms facing in.

Next, lean forward by bending at the hips and keeping your knees relatively straight. Then extend your back and drive your hips forward to return to standing.

Cable Pull Through Hip Thrust Alternative

5. Hyperextension

The hyperextension is a lower back exercise that also works your glutes and hamstrings. It typically involves a unique bench with a foot platform and thigh pads.

For this exercise, place your feet on the platform with the front of your thighs resting on the pads. Start with your torso bent forward over the pad, then extend upward by squeezing your glutes until your back is straight in line with your legs.

Hyperextension Hip Thrust Alternative

6. Reverse Hyperextension

The reverse hyperextension is another hip hinge movement that involves lifting your legs instead of your torso. You can do this exercise by lying on your stomach with your legs hanging off a padded table or elevated bench.

Some gyms have a special padded table with a weighted lever specifically for this exercise, as shown below.

Reverse Hyperextension Hip Thrust Alternative

7. Barbell Deadlift

Traditional deadlifts are the king of posterior chain movements. And this heavy hip hinge motion works almost every muscle on your backside, including the glutes.

One of the biggest keys to targeting your glutes on deadlifts is using a barbell instead of a trap bar or hex bar because the straight bar forces you to drive through your hips more than your knees.

Learn More: Hex Bar vs Barbell Deadlift Differences In Muscles Worked

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8. Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift (RDL) is like a partial deadlift where you start from the standing position and lower the bar just past your knees before returning upright.

With only a slight knee bend, the RDL is a very hip-dominant movement and works the glutes and hamstrings well.

Learn More: When to Use Romanian Deadlift vs Deadlift

9. Good Mornings

The good morning exercise is like an RDL where you hold the bar across the back of your shoulders instead of in front of your thighs.

With the bar on your shoulders, you change the center of gravity during the exercise and make it more challenging even when using less weight.

Related: How to Do Smith Machine Good Mornings

10. Stiff Leg Deadlift

Another hip thrust alternative is the stiff leg deadlift. This exercise is basically an RDL with little to no knee bend.

By removing the knees from the equation, stiff leg deadlifts only involve rotation about the hip joint. Therefore, they use more glutes than RDLs or good mornings.

Learn More: Romanian Deadlift vs Stiff Leg Deadlift

11. Leg Press for Glutes

The leg press is a popular lower body exercise primarily associated with building your thighs and quads. But with proper foot placement, you can also use the leg press to target your glutes.

Placing your feet higher on the platform is the key to using the leg press for your glutes. This stance results in a more significant hip bend and less knee bend at the bottom of the movement.

Another tip is to adjust the seat back to a higher angle, which creates even more hip flexion.

Learn More: Leg Press Foot Placement Guide

12. Low Bar Squats

Barbell squats are the king of all leg exercises. But there are some technique tips you must implement if you want to maximize glute activation during squats.

First, try placing the bar lower on your shoulders. This low bar position shifts your center of gravity back, resulting in more hip flexion and greater glute involvement.

Learn More: High Bar vs Low Bar Squat Body Mechanics

13. Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat is another versatile leg exercise that you can adjust to target more quads or hamstrings/glutes. This variation involves elevating your back foot on a box or bench.

Take a longer step forward with your front foot when using Bulgarian split squats as a hip thrust alternative. This stride length results in more hip rotation and glute activation.

14. Box Step Up

Finally, is the box step up or bench step up. This exercise is like a vertical split squat where your front foot is elevated instead of your rear foot.

When targeting your glutes, try leaning forward at the start of the step-up to create more torque around the hip joint. You can do a full set with each leg or alternate legs with each rep.

Box Step Up Hip Thrust Alternative

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More Alternative Exercises

In this article, you learned 14 awesome hip thrust alternative exercises. So now you should be able to blast your glutes regardless of your gym setup.

But don’t stop there… Check out these other informative exercise alternative lists to find exercises for every muscle group!

High Row Machine Alternatives for Any Gym

T-Bar Row Alternative Exercises (with videos)

Skull Crusher Alternatives for Huge Triceps

Leg Extension Alternatives Without a Machine

Hack Squat Alternatives for Bigger Quads

With this information, you’re well on your way to building stronger glutes and a bigger booty. So if you found this article helpful, take a look at some of my other great content below!

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By |December 13, 2022|Workouts|0 Comments
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