“Hi! I’m trying to find some information on doing hip thrusts – I’ve got all of Contreras’ stuff – the trouble I’m having is how to work with the weights between bare bar and 135. I can’t roll the bar up to the right spot because the plates aren’t high enough to clear my thighs, but leaning forward and trying to pick up a loaded bar while seated is a bad idea. I also don’t have a training partner who can help. Any tips?” – Rebecca


Hi, Rebecca!  Thanks for writing in with this question as it’s one we get a lot from our female clients.  Luckily, you have a few options which I will discuss in the video, and outline below:

1. Lighter Bumper Plates 

See if you can find Olympic bumper plates that are 5 kg, 10 kg, or 15 kg. They are the same diameter as the 45 lb. plates, but obviously much lighter.

2. Barbell Glute Bridges

Get stronger at barbell glute bridges first (where your back is on the ground). If you can get super strong at those (for example, 225 lbs. for reps) there is a chance you will be able to hop right into 135 lb. hip thrusts.  Of course, don’t assume that you can… but you MAY be able to. For example, at one point, I had never done hip thrusts (only done barbell glute bridges on the floor) and I was able to hip thrust 135 lbs. the first time with no problem (also keep in mind I’ve been lifting for almost 10 years).

3. Single Leg Hip Thrusts

Once a 45 lb barbell is no longer challenging on hip thrusts, which it sounds like it’s not… try doing single leg hip thrusts. Start with body weight and work your way up to the 45 lb barbell. They will get you a lot stronger and you won’t have to use as much weight.

4. Other Implements

Use other weighted implements (chains, bands hooked in the squat rack, weight vest draped across your lap) if you have access to them.  We use 20 and 40 lb. chains in our classes for hip thrusts. They are pretty easy to put on and take off and our clients love them.

5.  Just do it 

I personally just roll the bar up my thighs even if the weights aren’t tall enough to clear them. I roll it right above my knees and then bend my knees slightly… just enough to barely pick the weight up off the floor with my legs (and not my arms and back) and then guide the weight up my legs with my hands. Often times this means that the weights are hovering over the ground before I even start, but that’s fine.


QUICK TIP:  In order to ensure that you are not hyper-extending at the top of the Hip Thrust and getting your movement through your lumbar spine, make sure you’re bracing your core hard before you do the movement.  My favorite thing to do is to take a big breath in through my nose, blow out hard through my mouth, and picture driving my ribs down towards my pelvis to brace as hard as I can, and then knocking out a few reps.  I tend to knock out 3-4 reps like this, then take another breath and go again.  Repeat until your reps are completed.

Keep in mind, I had *not* thought of this trick yet in the video below, where I am hip thrusting 225 and 315 for reps.


I hope you find this advice helpful!  Good luck and keep me updated on your progress!


6 Responses to Weekly Reader Questions: Barbell Hip Thrust Solutions and Tips

  1. Liz P says:

    I had to start with just the bar as well. A couple of things I did was to use the 25 pound bar at first and load that one. The great thing about this is that you only have to be up to 95 pounds to load the 35 pound plates, which I can fit under. Also a tip I read from another site that I used was to deadlift the bar then sit down on the bench, then scoot down to the floor.

    Great tips Molly!

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  3. Kat says:

    Before I could use the 45lb plates, I would set a plate flat on the floor at each end of the bar and then when I loaded the bar, that plate would add some “lift” to the weighted barbell. Also, it kept it from rolling around.

  4. I hope you don’t mind me sharing my video here, but this is how I manage to do them easily and comfortably without a workout partner. It’s an unconventional use of a machine, I like to get creative 🙂 … http://youtu.be/dOxspaM48gY

  5. Jos says:

    Another idea is use the squat rack so you rack the bar on the squat rack (adjust to the lowest setting). It works well in some ways!

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