Glute/Hip power is essential to being a good athlete. An exercise that I was skeptial of in the past to increase the power of an athlete’s glutes/hips is the Barbell Hip Thrust. I wasn’t really sure that this particular exercise would be of any benefit because it really only worked one joint. It also just didn’t look all that “specific” to any sort of athletic movement, so I pretty much wrote it off. In addition to that, they weren’t a “standing based” exercise, so I figured it could have really limited benefits. There was a lot of forum buzz after these exercises “hit the market” and the consensus on my sources was that they were at best a nice auxilliary exercise. Before I continue, here are some videos of what the exercise looks like.
Barbell Glute Bridge
Barbell Hip Thrust
The man who has really popularized this exercise is Bret Contreras, who is a really bright trainer who I have a lot of respect for. I mean, the guy wore electrodes on his butt for 30 workouts to find which exercises provided the largest amount of glute activation. Although I was skeptical of his glute exercises, after hearing how instrumental they were in reducing the sprint times and increasing the vertical jumps of some of his various clients, I decided to give the exercise a try for myself.
After about 3 weeks of performing the glute bridge, and increasing my weight from 135 to 200+lbs for 8 reps, I noticed 2 very distinct improvements in my training. The first was in a workout I performed on Saturday of the third week. It was my first sprinting workout after returning to work, as I didn’t get a chance to sprint over the break. I immediately noticed that my glutes were powering my sprint more than I had ever felt them before. Following the workout, my glutes were very sore the next day, even though I hadn’t done any lifting that day! I credit this to the increased amount of glute activation I had picked up through performing the glute bridge for 3 weeks.
The second main improvement I found was in my squatting. I have always been pretty weak in the parallel position of a squat, and I have typically been able to squat over 100lbs more in a squat a couple inches short of parallel vs. one to parallel. Research has shown that the deeper the squat, the higher the level of glute and hamstring activation that will accompany the lift as opposed to the quads. To make a long story short, I did a squat workout the monday following that Saturday sprint workout, and have never felt my glutes assist in driving out of the bottom of the squat like I did that day!
I feel that these exercises take heavy advantage of the “general” aspect of muscular training, in that you will want to train your muscles for maximal strength and activation, and then use sport specific methods to improve your performance (of course full body standing ground based lifts are typically the preference) I am looking forward to seeing how my sprinting and squatting will improve as I continue to improve in this exercise, and I will make sure to keep everyone posted of my progress. I am also loking forward to making heavy use of these type of drills with my track sprinters and jumpers this season.