Hip Thrusts on Smith Machine

How To Do Hip Thrusts on Smith Machine | Form, Benefits & Video Breakdown

*PSA Video breakdown coming this week! Save this post and check back for the video!

You want a giant peach but don’t have the means to set up a barbell hip thrust at your gym.

You may find it too intimidating to set it up on the turf or at the squat rack.

Good news: With the Hip Thrusts on Smith Machine, you can grow your glutes and spend minimum time setting it up.

I’m going to break it all down below for you:

  • What is the Smith Machine
  • How to set it up for hip thrusts
  • Form and how to feel it in your glutes
  • Sets & Reps
  • Variations and Progressions to this exercise

In addition to doing this exercise correctly, we want to ensure we target the glutes enough times per week and progressive overloading to promote glute growth.

What is the Smith Machine?

hip thrusts on smith machine

People know what the machine is without actually knowing the name of it.
The Smith machine is a strength training machine found in most gyms. It consists of a barbell attached to vertical posts with notches, allowing for adjustable height.

The bar moves up and down in a fixed vertical path, allowing for controlled movements. The Smith Machine also includes height-adjustable stoppers, making it easier to bail if the weight is too heavy. Stoppers are more relevant to Smith Machine squats.

The Smith Machine is known to get a bad rep because it’s on a fixed and controlled path vs. the free-weight equipment. However, that is old and fake ‘science bro talk’ and must be thrown out the window before continuing this post.

If you think you can’t grow your glutes using this machine, look at this study (1) that confirms machines vs. free weights have a similar impact on muscle mass and strength increase with no difference in both groups participating in the study. In other words, the machine group and the free weights group both saw an increase in muscle mass.

You’ll find different bodybuilders and bikini competitors sprinkle in some Smith Machine work in addition to dumbbells and barbells for the training regiment.

The Smith Machine is excellent for lower body exercises such as squats and hip thrusts and for upper body exercises such as overhead pressing and bench (incline and flat).

Hip Thrusts Benefits

Smith Machine Hip Thrusts is a great way to grow the glutes because you can overload more weight than you typically can with a barbell.

It’s easier to overload faster on Smith Machine. I’ve incorporated barbells, dumbbells, Smith Machine hip thrusts, and other hip thrust machines into my training regimen at some point over my training period.

Hip Thrusts are one of the best exercises you can do to grow your glutes and should not be ignored. Strong glutes help reduce the risk of injury and are easier on the lower back than squats and deadlifts. Whether in the gym or at home, hip thrusts should be prioritized in your glute training.

In addition, they help to strengthen the muscles around the hip joint, including:

Your Glutes:

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Minimus

Your Hamstrings:

  • Semi Membranous
  • Semi Tendinosus
  • Biceps Femoris

Hip Thrusts Form Tips:

People perform hip thrusts to strengthen and grow their glutes, but maintaining proper form to feel it in the glutes is crucial.

Whether you’re doing a smith machine, barbell, or dumbbell, the correct technique for form remains the same:

Form Tips for Hip Thrusts on Smith Machine:

  • Core Engaged
  • Mid back on the edge of the bench (think bra-line level)
  • Knees bent at 90 degrees.
  • Keep your chin tucked and look straight ahead.
  • Keep your rib cage pointing down.
  • Heels stay on the ground the entire time.

How To Do Hip Thrusts on Smith Machine

More good news! There are only a few steps to this process to get set up quickly and start thrusting for them glutes!

The setup process should take at most 2 minutes, and 2 minutes is if you’re trying to find the bench.

The process should take a minute.

In addition to the video, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do hip thrusts on the Smith machine.

Set Up Your Bench or a Box

Find a flat, sturdy bench typically used for bench presses and wheel it to the Smith machine.

Note: Sometimes, you will already find it there. These benches are not just used for the free weights sections. Using them for the Smith Machine is politically correct in the gym, so don’t hesitate to grab the bench.

You want the flat bench to look something like one in the picture above (picture coming in the next day).

Make sure the edge of the bench is flat enough to place the middle of your back (think bra-line level) on the edge of it.

Similarly, you can use a softbox to align your back and the bar.

Barbell Pad

Before anything else is done, place your barbell pad in the center of the Smith Machine bar. Keep the open side facing up, away from your hips.

Some gyms have them, while others require you to bring one from home. If you need help finding a high-quality barbell pad for a very affordable price, check out a few options here that can be shipped to you within days.

The most important thing is to ensure you have a high-quality barbell pad to protect your hip bone when performing the exercise. That way, you can lift heavy enough to fatigue those glutes and help them grow while protecting the pelvic region!

Trust me, I know I can do 400lbs+ on barbell hip thrusts, and I do it, but I CANNOT do it without a barbell pad.

Adjust the Height

Adjust the height of the Smith machine bar to about hip level. You want to ensure you have a full range of motion to perform this exercise. If you’re unsure about the height, start with it slightly lower and adjust as needed during your warm-up sets.

Ensure the stoppers are set at the bottom so they’re not getting in the way during the exercise.

Set Up The Starting Position

Ensure your starting position has the Smith Machine barbell resting on the center of your hips.

You don’t want the bench too far away from you where the barbell is resting on your knees.

Similarly, you don’t want to be right up against the barbell where it’s resting on your tummy.

Both are big no no’s.

Make sure it’s centered directly on your hips.

Put on Your Plates

Make sure the barbell is evenly loaded on both sides.

If this is your first exercise on your leg day, make sure you have a few warm-up sets planned (2 max) and take the time during those warm-up sets to readjust where needed.

Then, go into your first working set and try to increase the weight throughout each set while decreasing the number of reps. Or, if you have a specific program or coach, stick to their guidance.

Key Considerations For Successfully Performing the Smith Machine Hip Thrust

Once you become a pro at Smith machine hip thrust, you want to focus on progressive overload, your desired reps & sets, and adding in some variations.

Sets & Reps

When starting this exercise, I aim for three sets of 12,10, then 8 reps.

If your glutes are one of your primary fitness goals, aim for 9-12 sets per week of glute-specific exercises.

On a 3-day full body workout split that can look like:

Workout A:

  • Three sets of Smith Machine hip thrusts | 12,10,8 reps
  • Three sets of Barbell RDLs | 12,10,8 reps

Workout B:

Three sets of Cable kickbacks | 12-15 reps each leg

Workout C:

  • Three sets of Dumbbell Step Ups | 12,10,8 reps each leg

Smith Machine Hip Thrusts Progressions

Adding some variations or progressions to this exercise will help your glute training.

Work on progressing with the Smith Machine hip thrust for 4-6 weeks, then switch it up to another variation for the next 4-6 weeks before returning to it.

Below are some options for glute exercises you can switch to.

Barbell Hip Thrusts

The barbell hip thrust is the [OG] original version of the Smith Machine hip thrust and a great exercise.

Using a bench and barbell, you follow the same movement pattern as the Smith Machine hip thrust but maintain more control over the weight.

The difference with barbell hip thrusts is you can use a greater range of motion versus the Smith machine, which is on a fixed, controlled path.

Range of motion isn’t the deal breaker when it comes to hip thrusts, but you can either focus on less range of motion with KAS Hip Thrusts, for example, that will only target the glutes (more on that below) or traditional hip thrusts that get more muscles in addition to the glutes, involved.

Single Leg Smith Machine Hip Thrusts

If you want to challenge your glutes even more, try doing single-leg Smith machine hip thrusts.

This will require more balance and stability, making it a more challenging exercise.

Keep one foot on the ground the entire time (knee bent at a 90 angle) and the other foot elevated off the ground.

KAS Hip Thrusts

KAS Hip Thrusts are like any other hip thrusts with only one significant difference.

The range of motion.

You will only come halfway down before pushing your hips back upward, and you will feel a nice burn in your glutes when you approach those final reps.

This is one of the most popular variations and is great for targeting just the glutes, whether you’re doing these hip thrusts in the gym or at home.

If you feel that your glutes are lagging or want to focus on building them up, KAS Hip Thrusts are a must-try exercise.

This exercise can be done with dumbbells, barbells, on a Smith machine, or any similar hip thrust machine setup.

Alternatives to Smith Machine Hip Thrusts

Last, I want to provide alternatives to the Smith Machine hip thrust that will help with glute growth while still utilizing the Smith Machine.

Smith machine Squats

This exercise targets not only the glutes but also the quadriceps and adductors.

Stand in front of the smith machine with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding onto the bar with an overhand grip.

Lower down into a squat position, keeping your back straight, chest up, and pushing through your heels to stand back up.

To target more glutes, keep the shin angle straight and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

*picture for reference

Smith Machine RDL’s

Another great exercise using the Smith Machine for glutes is Romanian deadlifts (RDLs).

Stand in front of the machine with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hold onto the bar with an overhand grip.

Hinge at the hips while keeping a slight bend in your knees and lower yourself until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

Roll your shoulders back and keep your chest up (proud chest).

Make sure your head and spine are in line with each other.

Keep your core engaged.

Drive through your heels to stand back up, squeezing your glutes at the movement’s top.

Last tip: Keep the barbell close to your shine (think literally glued to your shins). This helps keep a flat back and prevents the back and shoulders from rounding.

RDL Form:

  • Feet shoulder width apart
  • overhand grip
  • Roll shoulders back (retract)
  • Chest Up
  • Head and spine in line with each other
  • Engage Core
  • drive through the heels
  • Keep the barbell close to your shins

Final Thoughts

To sum it all up, hip thrusts on the Smith Machine are a great exercise to target and grow the glutes, take a minimum to set up (2 minutes or less), and are beginner-friendly.

Keep these exercises in your program regimen and work on progressive overload with each exercise over time. Last, remember the desired weekly sets and variations to sprinkle in every 4-6 weeks.

Your booty will thank you!

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