Hip thrusts and training glutes are all the rage. But as comes with every body part obsession, variation often comes at the expense of spending more time on the ones that count.
Once in a while though, some exercises come along that deserve attention. Enter the landmine hip thrust as your new favourite glute-builder.
I thought-up with the single-leg landmine hip thrust in March 2019, at the same time as the Landmine quadruped hip extension. Both exercises have now become the insta butt exercises of the moment.
Their popularity skyrocketed after Bret Contreras spoke of the quadruped hip extension (giving props to yours truly), followed by other notable coaches, then influencers following suit. To read more about the landmine quadruped hip-extension, check out my article HERE at T-Nation. Otherwise read ahead.
Landmine v.s Barbell Hip Thrusts
The traditional single-leg hip thrust is a valuable exercise. Once you’ve become proficient with your own bodyweight, you can then progress to using a dumbbell among other things. As you get stronger you’ll naturally get to a point where a dumbbell either becomes too light or too uncomfortable. That’s when a barbell becomes the natural option.
Be prepared to think outside of the box here though, as it doesn’t necessarily have to be a straight barbell. For me and many of my clients i’ve found an EZ bar to do a better job. A short stubby bar works too, although you’re less likely to find one.
Anecdotally, it’s less awkward and more stable than using a 7ft Olympic bar, and for most you can get a sufficient amount of weight on it. Providing you turn the bar up the right way, the grooves in the bar sit nicely on your hips too.
However, for the sole purpose of building a bigger stronger butt there’s still a problem with single-leg hip thrusts, even with an EZ or stubby bar. Many find it too unstable to lift sufficient load, or at least nowhere near comparable to what they can hip thrust bilaterally.
Because of the lack of stability around the pelvis when doing these, a large amount of effort from your nervous system is put towards dealing with this instability. This is at the expense of overall glutes output. With more instability there’s less connection with your glutes and a lower quality contraction.
The landmine solution…
Using a landmine instead offers an element of stability, largely because of its attachment to the floor. Because of this you’ll be able to handle more weight and get more out of your glutes from a physique standpoint – there’s less of a hip stability requirement versus barbell single-leg hip thrusts, meaning better glutes output (more awareness, harder contraction, higher activation).
Again, we’re solely talking about these exercises from a physique enhancement standpoint. Feeling locked-in to an exercise and creating a more supported environment will produce better results for any muscle in isolation.
Just also note that Landmine hip thrusts are a relatively advanced exercise. Although the injury risk is low, the complexity and “pain in the ass” factor is high. For that reason I’d highly encourage you to at least master single-leg hip thrusts first with your bodyweight, then with a dumbbell before progressing on to using a landmine. Here are two ways to do them.
- You’ll need a landmine unit, bar and most likely a foam pad or squat bar pad. Choose a bench or step with a height that works well for you and your regular bilateral hip thrusts.
- Once you’ve loaded the bar rest your back up agains the bench and set your feet in position. As a general rule of thumb place your feet in such a way that at the top of the thrust your shins are perpendicular to the floor. That being said this can vary a little, so feel free to position where you feel’s good.
- You have the option to place a squat bar pad on the end of the olympic bar. This tends to work okay as long as it doesn’t slip off. Personally I prefer to use an Airex foam pad across the hip instead.
- The bar should roll on where you can get as close to the plates as possible. The bar should sit on your hip comfortably. If you don’t get this right you’ll have a pretty angry pubic bone.
- Raise one leg off the floor, brace your abs, tuck you chin, and drive through your heel to raise your hips. Focus on getting full hip extension while posteriorly tilting your pelvis – cock-up at the top!
- Lower the landmine back to the start position, then rinse and repeat for desired reps.
- You’re better off performing all of your sets on one leg before switching over to save time.
2/1 Landmine Hip Thrust
These are a more advanced version of the basic version above. Eccentrics are a great driver of muscle growth, and cracking for both injury prevention and tendon health. They’ll also have your glutes feeling sore for days. For all this landmine hip thrusts using the 2/1 technique have you covered.
With these you’re essentially lifting with two legs and overloading just one leg on the way down – Hence named the 2/1 technique. You’ll be using more weight on one-leg than you would typically use. This is made possible because your lowering (eccentric) strength is greater (up to 20-40%!) than your lifting (concentric) strength.
- Set your bench in position. Load your landmine. Then lay down with a pad over your hips.
- Roll the landmine on. Once you’re in position hip thrust the landmine using both legs.
- Lifting with both legs in most part is a way to “get it up” so you can overload the eccentric.
- For balance, when transferring to single-leg you’ll raise with both feet relatively close to one another. You’ll notice this in the video.
- Once you reach the top of the hip thrust (chin tucked, abs contracted, “cock-up”), bring one leg off the floor and drive your knee up.
- Lower with the leg closest to the landmine unit.
- Take about 2 seconds to lower the landmine. If you want to do longer duration eccentrics that’s an option too (e.g., 4-6 seconds).
- A good starting point would be to use +5-10% of your regular single-leg landmine hip thrusts. Another reason why you should progress to these after doing those first.
It’s important you perform both unilateral and bilateral glute exercises at various points in your training. While bilateral tend to be better at creating some hypertrophy, unilateral is better for hip coordination, stability and ironing out imbalances. If you’ve got a single lazy butt cheek you might want to consider going heavy with single-leg landmine hip thrusts.
Find out about the Maverick Glutes and Hamstrings Guide HERE.
Also known as “The Fitness Maverick”, Gareth specializes in smarter training techniques to get you strong and looking great naked year round!