The Single-Leg Hip Thrust: 3 Critical Mistakes You Never Want to Make

by Jordan Syatt August 14, 2015

The single-leg hip thrust is one of the few drills I put in nearly every one of my online coaching clients training programs.


Because the single-leg hip thrust will help you get better at pretty much everything.

Want to increase your deadlift strength? Do the single-leg hip thrust.

Want to shape your glutes? Do the single-leg hip thrust.

Want to add $1000/month to your income? I don’t know if it’ll help but doing the single-leg hip thrust definitely won’t hurt.

Take my online coaching client, Kelly, for example.

single-leg hip thrust

Kelly and I started working together in my online coaching program about 6-months ago and she’s completely re-shaped her glutes, burned a ton of fat off her frame, and dramatically increased her strength.

We’ve used a bunch of strategies to help her along the way, but the single-leg hip thrust (plus all of its variations) has been a staple in her training programs and a major contributor to her success.

To help you better understand the single-leg hip thrust and how to get the most bang for your buck, I filmed the short video below outlining 3 of the most common single-leg hip thrust mistakes.

The Single-Leg Hip Thrust: 3 Critical Mistakes You Never Want to Make

Single-Leg Hip Thrust Mistake #1: Pushing Off Your Elbows

single-leg hip thrust

One of the most common technique mistakes I see on a regular basis, you never want to push off your elbows during the single-leg hip thrust.

Without going into mind numbing detail, when you push through your elbows the load is transferred away from your hips which keeps your glutes from doing the work and reduces the effectiveness of the drill.

In other words, pushing off your elbows makes the single-leg hip thrust a waste of time.

So, next time you try the single-leg hip thrust, make sure your arms are completely relaxed with all of your weight being transferred directly into your upper back. If you still have trouble not using your elbows, do the single-leg hip thrust with your arms crossed over chest; this position forces you to put all of your weight directly into your upper back which loads your hips and forces your glutes to do the work.

Single-Leg Hip Thrust Mistake #2: Hyperextending Your Lower Back

single-leg hip thrust

Hyperextending your lower back” is a fancy way of saying “arching your lower back.

In short, arching your lower back like I am in the picture above makes it way harder to use your glutes which, just like pushing off your elbows, makes the single-leg hip thrust a waste of time.

To that end, when you’re doing the single-leg hip thrust you want to make sure your back is flat (personal trainers call this position, “neutral”) by bringing your ribs down and lightly flexing your abs like this:

single-leg hip thrust

Single-Leg Hip Thrust Mistake #3: Not Using Your Glutes

If you aren’t using your glutes, you aren’t doing the single-leg hip thrust properly. And, unfortunately, most people aren’t using their glutes.

One of the most common reasons people have trouble using their glutes is because they tend to drive from their toes instead of their heels.

single-leg hip thrust

Bad form. You do NOT want to drive through your toes.

When you drive through your toes instead of your heels, it’s pretty much impossible to use your glutes which is why many people end up feeling the single-leg hip thrust in their knees and/or quads.

To prevent this (and to make sure you’re using your glutes properly), try picking your big toe slightly off the floor throughout the entire movement. This will force you to keep your weight back towards your heel which will allow you to use your glutes more effectively.

Another simple way to increase your glute involvement is by simply giving your butt a little “love tap” at the top of every rep.

single-leg hip thrust

A form of “internal cueing,” lightly touching your butt cheek at the top of every rep can improve what’s known as the “mind muscle connection” which can increase your ability to recruit more muscle fibers. 

In other words, tapping your butt can literally help you use your butt muscles better.

Man, I love science. 

Training and Nutrition for Faster Fat Loss

^^^Click to Read^^^

Now that you know the 3 most common single-leg hip thrust mistakes and how to use your butt better, here are 3 of my favorite single-leg hip thrust variations.

3 Brutal Single-Leg Hip Thrust Variations

1) Single-Leg Hip Thrust with Iso Hold

Description: do a standard single-leg hip thrust but add a slight pause at the top of every rep. While you pause you should continue driving through your heel and squeezing your butt cheek as hard as possible.

2) Single-Leg Hip Thrust with Emphasized Eccentric

Description: do a standard single-leg hip thrust but on the way down I want you to move very slowly. Ideally, the downward portion of the movement (known as the “eccentric”) will take 2-3 seconds.

3) 1.5 Single-Leg Hip Thrust

Description: do a standard single-leg hip thrust but add half of a repetition in between every full repetition.

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