How To Do The Smith Machine Hip Thrust Properly

If you’re in the market for bigger and stronger glutes then the Smith machine hip thrust is exactly what you need for that.

This powerful machine-based glute builder is one of the fastest ways to get your glutes into shape, but only if you use the correct form and keep doing it consistently.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to treat your glutes to a thorough workout with this gem;

  • Place a step-up box or bench at the entrance of the machine. A box is recommended for short people while a bench would work better if you are on the taller side.
  • Attach a balance pad or a squat sponge to the bar for extra support and protection.
  • Press your upper back into the bench and step your feet out at shoulder-width apart.
  • Flare both of your feet out around 15⁰ to rotate your hips externally. This helps increase glute activity.
  • Place the bar at the crease of your hips. You may have to experiment a bit with the position of the bench until you find the one that suits you most.
  • Grab the bar with your hands just slightly wider than the diameter of the bar pad.
  • Extend your hips, tighten your core, depress your ribcage and tuck your chin to un-rack the bar.
  • Stretch your glutes to lower the bar, and then thrust your hips forcefully to reverse the motion when you get to mid-air.
  • At the top of the rep, squeeze your glutes as hard as you can, making sure you do not hyperextend your spine during lockout.
  • Keep your glutes tensed as you lower the bar back to the starting position.
  • Do 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps each.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE SMITH MACHINE HIP THRUST WORK?

GLUTES

As you are probably well aware at this point, the Smith machine hip thrust fires up your glutes a good one.

However, to reap the maximum benefit of this exercise as a glute builder, you have to use the full range of motion because it is only then that the gluteus maximus will be maximally tensed.

 HAMSTRINGS

When you do a Smith machine hip thrust, your hamstrings play a role in stabilizing your body.

You can increase their activation by stepping your feet further away from the bench, which also helps take some pressure off your knees.

QUADRICEPS

Since the rectus femoris muscle of the quadriceps group crosses both your hip and knee joints, you’ll notice a significant amount of quadricep engagement in this movement.

This is because the rectus femoris, unlike the other muscles within the quad muscle group, extends the knee and flexes your hips.

The only problem is that it is almost impossible for it to perform these functions properly at the same time.

So to work it effectively, you have to extend your hips and knees at the same time, which is exactly what you do at the top of the movement.

BENEFITS OF THE SMITH MACHINE HIP THRUST

EASY TO SET UP

There aren’t many people that enjoy loading heavy weight plates onto barbells; it is a cumbersome process that gets you tired before you even begin your workout, which could be very demotivating.

But the good news is, you don’t have to worry about any such laborious  process when it comes to setting up the Smith machine for a hip thrust.

Since the bar is already set to an elevated position, all you need to do is slide weight discs onto it and voilà, you’re all set and ready to roll!

ROUNDER, BIGGER GLUTES

It’s undeniable how good a job the barbell hip thrust does building your glutes.

However, performing thrusts on a Smith machine has the advantage of allowing you to focus solely on your glutes since the bar is stabilized, which ultimately improves their effectiveness.

The fact that is relatively more stable than most other variations of the hip thrust makes it one of the best options if you are looking to improve your mind-muscle connection.

MORE HIP EXTENSION STRENGTH

Because of its stability, the Smith machine makes it easy to lift more weight than you would with a barbell hip thrust. This can help increase your hip extension strength.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE SMITH MACHINE HIP THRUST

SMITH MACHINE DONKEY KICKS

If your goal is to stretch out your glutes so much that you’ll have a hard time sitting down afterwards, then the Smith machine donkey kick is for you.

As much as it focuses on your glutes, it also fires up your hamstrings and to a lesser extent, your quadriceps.

Here are the steps you need to follow to do it properly;

  • Place an exercise mat under the machine bar.
  • Set the safety catches of the machine to the lowest position and place the bar on top.
  • Get on all fours as if you were about to perform a kneeling push up.
  • Straighten your back and keep your gaze on the floor beneath you.
  • Position the arch of your foot under the barbell. At the starting position, there should be a 90⁰ angle between your lower and upper leg.
  • Take a deep breath in, and then push the bar upwards as you squeeze your glutes. Stop only when you cannot contract them any further.
  • Pause at the top, and then lower the bar slowly until you return to where you began.
  • Do 12-18 reps for 2-5 sets.

SMITH MACHINE HIP THRUST MISTAKES TO AVOID

STARING AT THE CEILING

It’s never a good idea to stare up at the ceiling while doing this exercise.

Looking up will likely force your pelvis to tilt anteriorly which may put a lot of pressure on your lower back and cause you pain.

Instead, tuck your chin in and look forward to protect both your lower back and neck muscles from strain.

FAILING TO WARM UP

Like most glute exercises, the Smith machine hip thrust relies heavily on a strong mind-muscle connection. This is easier to achieve when your muscles are adequately activated before you begin.

So try some warm up exercises to “wake up” those muscles a few minutes before you get started on this movement.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The squat is not all there is to building your glutes. There are so many other powerful glute builders and the Smith machine hip thrust is just one of them.

What makes this exercise stand out among glute workouts is the fact that it allows for a stronger mind-muscle connection which makes it easier to focus entirely on your muscles for the best results.

Add it to your glute routine and you will have zero regrets!