Best glute exercise for a stronger butt: Hip thrust vs squat

Squats and hip thrusts are often suggested to strengthen glute muscles. But which is the better glute exercise? Let's find out what an expert has to say.
Glute exercises for stronger butt
Find out which is a better glute exercise! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 20 Jul 2023, 05:00 pm IST
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Who complains about a round and perky butt? Appearance aside, glutes are important for doing any activity. Be it walking or sitting comfortably on a toilet seat, your glutes work hard to make sure your hips and lower back are stable. You can make your glutes stronger by working out. Out of so many glute exercises, two names often pop up. One is squat and the other is hip thrust. In fact, many people wonder if hip thrusts are better than squats to strengthen glutes. Read on to find out which exercise is better for glutes.

Health Shots contacted fitness expert Varun Rattan to figure out if hip thrusts will help or squats will work for strong glutes.

hip thrust for glutes
Hip thrusts are perfect to engage your glutes! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What is a hip thrust?

If you are looking for a strength training exercise that mostly targets the glutes, then go for the hip thrust. Those who want to build strength, power and size in their glute muscles often go for hip thrusts, says Rattan.

How to perform a basic hip thrust?

• Sit on the ground with a bench right behind you.
• Have a loaded barbell over your legs. You can put foam on the bar if you want to reduce any discomfort caused by this exercise.
• Bring the bar directly above your hips, and press your shoulder blades against the edge of the bench.
• Drive through your feet and extend your hips vertically. Your weight would be supported by your upper back and feet as you go up. Then return to the starting position.

The expert says that while doing this glute exercise, your chin should be tucked and you should look forward, not up. This would help to maintain a neutral spine. Your feet should be flat on the ground and about shoulder-width apart, and your knees should not be caving in or go outwards. You need to drive through your entire feet and not just your toes. Make sure not to hyperextend your lower back at the top of the movement.

What is a squat?

A squat is one of the fundamental movements that primarily targets the quadriceps, adductors (inner thighs), and glutes. It looks like you are sitting down and standing up.

Squats exercise
Squats are pretty easy to perform and effective. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

How to perform a squat?

• Stand with your toes pointing slightly outward. The stance width would vary depending on the anatomy of a person.
• Keep your back straight and tighten your core, as if you are about to be punched in the side of your tummy.
• Descend by bending your knees and pushing your hips back like you were to sit in a chair.
• Lower your body as low as you can comfortably go.
• Push through your feet to return to the starting position.
• Maintain a stable posture throughout the movement.

Rattan says you need to do warm up and stretch before performing squats to prevent injury. You can start with bodyweight squats or use a chair for support if you are new to this exercise. Make sure not to round your back or let your knees cave in.

If you are ready for more, you can try squat variations too!

1. Goblet squat

Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell close to your chest while performing the squat.


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2. Front squat

Rest a barbell on the front of your shoulders while performing the squat.

3. Sumo squat

Widen your stance and point your toes significantly outward to target your inner thighs.

4. Jump squat

Explosively jump upwards from the squat position.

Hip thrust vs squat for glutes

When it comes to glute hypertrophy, both hip thrusts and squats are effective exercises, says the expert. But they target the muscles in slightly different ways, which can influence their effectiveness depending on your goals.

Squats work multiple muscle groups including the glutes, quads, adductors and core. That means they can help to improve overall lower body strength and stability. However, the glutes are not the primary muscle group being worked in a squat. On the other hand, hip thrusts primarily target the glutes, with secondary involvement of the hamstrings, lower back and quadriceps. This isolation of the glutes might make hip thrusts more effective for people specifically looking for bigger butt.

Both exercises are effective for increasing glute muscle thickness, but there are differences in their effects on maximum strength. While performing squats lead to greater improvements in maximum squat strength, hip thrusts lead to greater improvements in maximum hip thrust strength.

Both squats and hip thrusts can be effective for glute hypertrophy. So, you can safely include both exercises in a glute development routine.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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