The Best Butt Exercise You’re Not Doing

The Best Butt Exercise You’re Not Doing

In the fitness world, it’s apparent that the past few years have been the era of the butt. Folks all over have stepped off the treadmill and instead, have traded it for a set of weights and a lot of squats.

Achieving a peachy booty is the goal of all kinds of people and it’s not an easy task. There’s a lot of work, and a lot of sweat involved. There also happens to be a fair amount of butt-focused exercises out there. Lucky for you, however, we happen to know which one is the most effective. No exercise bs here, friends.

If you want to get a butt like JLo, the secret is introducing hip thrusts into your workout. Here we give you a rundown on everything you need to know about the move.

What are hip thrusts and what are they good for?

The hip thrust is an exercise where you load up a barbell and sit on the floor underneath it. Then, with your shoulders on a bench, you thrust your hips toward the ceiling, lifting the barbell.

It’s a really good butt workout because your glutes (butt muscles) get a chance to do the most intense part of the lift when they are fully contracted. Bret Contreras popularised this lift and wrote it into several of his butt-centric training programs; in just a few years, it’s taken off. There are even specialised hip thrust stations in some gyms. It’s definitely an exercise worth knowing if you want a stronger or more muscular butt.

Great, but how do I actually do it?

Setting up is tricky, but worth the effort. You need:

  • A bench to rest your shoulders on
  • Room next to the bench for you to sit on the floor
  • A barbell, loaded up with your desired weights
  • A thick pad to cushion your hips

The video below walks you through everything, so give it a watch before you go to the gym and start rearranging furniture.


If your gym is the kind where you’re the only one doing this butt exercise (it’s OK, really) your first obstacle is finding the right bench and space. Remember, it’s OK to move stuff around!

If you’re worried about the bench tipping over (not an issue with most benches, honestly) you can put it up against a wall, or use some heavy plates to weight down the bottom of the bench.

If there’s no thick cushiony pad, do what I do and grab one of those thick yoga mat type pads. Fold it in half or in thirds, and it’s perfect. Some people just buy their own thick foam pad and bring it to the gym.

Am I really going to be lifting that much weight?

Your butt muscles are really strong! It’s normal to be able to hip thrust way more than you can lift in any other exercise.

For your first time, you may not want to start with the big (20kg) plates on your barbell. At some gyms, all the plates are the same size, so just select something smaller”the 5kg plates, for example” and set up the way the video shows you.

But if the lighter plates are smaller, you have a problem: how do you get the bar onto your lap if you can’t roll it over your legs? There are a few options:

  • For a light weight that isn’t hard to deadlift, just pick it up, and sit down with it on your lap. This could work for your warm-up sets on your first day, but it’s not going to be an option for heavy work sets once you’re used to the exercise.
  • Stack some plates or blocks on either side of you, and roll the bar up onto those.
  • Use a fixed-plate barbell (smaller ones where the weights are permanently attached). Stand it up next to you, sit down, and lower it onto your lap.
  • Use a Smith machine or this hack to do hip thrusts on the leg extension machine. Setting up with a barbell actually makes for a better experience, in my opinion, but I definitely used the Smith machine on my very first day because it seemed less scary.

So give this butt exercise a try, and look forward to lifting heavy. Want some inspiration? Here’s The Rock hip-thrusting 206kg in paused reps…and Brie Larson working her way up to 400 pounds (about 180kg).

This article has been updated since its original publication.


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