Why Hip Thrusts Are Inferior to the Squat

Recently Hip thrusts are all the rage.

Everyone is doing them.

However, new studies have shown that squats produce 2x muscle gains as hip thrusts in the glutes. (and 6x in the quads!)

To give you more details the study was done to well-trained women in brazil where 1 group performed hip thrusts for 12 weeks and the other group performed squats (below parallel). The link of the study is at the end of the article.

So the question is.. why did squats outperform the hip thrust for muscle growth?

The two reasons are:

  • squats have a larger range of motion than the hip thrusts: In the squat your the joint angles of your hips and knees vary a lot more than in the hip thrust. Furthermore, you are going in the more elongated ranges whereas in the hip thrust you are mostly in the shortened range of motion.

 

  • squats have a better resistance curve: In the squat the load is constant (up and down), whereas in the hip thrust the weight moves in an arc. The hip thrust only maximally loads at the top of the movement where the glute is in a shortened state. Muscles are more likely to grow when loaded under the elongated state so the hip thrust doesn't accomplish this.

But does this mean hip thrusts shouldn't be done? Well, let's discuss two benefits of the hip thrusts.

1) Isolation - As you can see in the image above, the hip thrust is much better at isolating the glutes. This is especially important for women that don't want big quads.

2) Higher frequency - Unlike the squat that is extremely taxing on the body and requires more rest days, hip thrusts can be done more often. This may be a good option to add in a day between two squat sessions.

 

Barbalho et al. 2020. Back Squat vs. Hip Thrust Resistance-training Programs in Well-trained Women. 10.1055/a-1082-1126

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