Next Goal: Strengthen Everything from the Waist Down
Pain Free Barbell Hip Thrusts
Build Stronger Hips With These Hip Thrust Variations
After having won the Overall at the North American Grip Sport Championship, I found out that I won an automatic berth into next year’s Mighty Mitts.
Mighty Mitts, as Andrew Durniat calls it, is the SuperBowl of Grip, taking place on the main stage at the Arnold Classic, and featuring some of the strongest hands in the world. Mighty Mitts is where the best of Grip Sport clash with Strongmen in some of the most challenging tests of hand strength imaginable.
And with that in mind, I have one clear-cut goal that is intertwined into all of my training.
To Get As Strong as Possible from Now Until March.
This means, I have some GLARING weaknesses that I MUST address body-wise. My overall Absolute Strength pales in comparison to the other competitors, especially my lower back and hip strength.
As I outlined in this post, Squats: Start Doing Them Today, due to countless lower back injuries, I barely Squatted from 2008 until 2013. This has left my lower back and legs extremely weak.
With that in mind, I have begun an all-out onslaught on my lower body training, hitting Squats, Deadlifts, Hip Thrusts, Reverse Hypers, and other exercises that target the hips as hard as possible.
Mission: Build Stronger Hips
With the idea of getting the Hips and Glutes as strong as possible, I wanted to share a couple of variations of Hip Thrusts with you that I have been performing.
I first learned about Barbell Hip Thrusts from Niko Hulslander of Garage Ink. I could not believe the amount of weight he and his crew were doing in this lift, moving close to or even more than 500-lbs in the lift (I don’t recall what it was exactly anymore).
When I started doing this lift in late 2012, I could barely handle a set of 10 with 135lbs, that is how severely weak my hip complex had become.
Once I started doing the lift regularly, the pressure on my abdomen from the barbell was so severe, I was left with marks for days and days after doing them.
I tried wrapping a pool noodle around the bar, which helped to reduce the pressure, but the pool noodle just kept disintegrating after each session. I then moved on to a 2.5-inch thick axle. This worked for a while, but it belonged to my friend JT Straussner, so when he took it back to train with at his gym, I had to find something else.
I tried slipping a big piece of pipe over it and that worked pretty well, but since then I found something even better – the Saxon Bar.
Barbell Hip Thrusts with Saxon Bar
The Saxon Bar is a loadable barbell that is used for pinching. I found that I could load this thing up HEAVY, and when I placed it flat over my abdomen, the pressure was spread out very nicely and I felt no pain at all.
Here is the Barbell Hip Thrust using a Saxon Bar in action:
The goal for each rep is to get a nice hard contraction and a pause at the top of the movement.
Heavy Bend Tension Hip Thrusts
I have also found another variation that I like quite a bit – this one involves Thrusting against heavy band tension, using the Blue Jump Stretch Bands.
Right now, the limitation here is being able to harness down the bands. I have been able to slip them underneath the feet of my Squat Cage up to this point, but I want to modify the cage a big so I can rig more band tension without having to pin the bands beneath the cage. Again, with these, I am looking for a pause.
For both variations of the Hip Thrust, I have been performing 3 work sets of 10 repetitions, aiming for a nice pause at the top in a flat table position. This is after 2 to 3 warm-up sets to get used to the work set weight.
Generally, I will work the Saxon Bar Hip Thrusts on one lower body day, and then the next lower body day, I work the bands. The Saxon Bar Hip Thrusts take a lot more out of me, so I do those as a stand-alone exercise.
The Band Tension Hip Thrusts only load up at the very top of the movement, so they don’t take as much out of me, and I usually pair them with another exercise, usually involving a heavy loaded barbell in the cage, that I can use for Barbell Shrugs, Partial Deadlifts, or Holds.
I really love these two movements, and plan on doing them for quite some time. My Squats have been feeling much stronger since working these in, and I have no doubt they will help with Deadlifts, Farmer Picks, and other heavy lifts that work the glutes/hip complex.
If you are looking for ways to work the hips harder, these could be two lifts that you might want to try.
All the best in your training,
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