I really like single leg hip thrusts, but once your progress past bodyweight and need to add weight, they can be tricky to load.
My favorite method of loading initially is via draping chains or a weighted vest(or both) over your hips. Like this:
But if you don’t have either those, that’s obviously not an option. Also, some people don’t like using chains, either because they feel they’re uncomfortable (I don’t find them uncomfortable at all personally) or because they think they’re dirty and gross.
So if that’s out, another thing you can do is put a dumbbell on the working leg, as demonstrated by my awesome client Sara:
This works well for some clients, but those with bigger legs will have trouble fitting their thigh in the dumbbell, and it’s very awkward with heavier dumbbells, so you really can’t load it this way too heavy.
So eventually you’ll need to use a barbell, but a lot of clients struggle to balance a full-sized barbell on their hips for single leg hip thrusts.
I saw Bret Contreras use to E-Z bar with some of his female clients for bilateral hip thrusts, so I tried it for the single leg version and it works really, really well because it allows you to load it up with the balance issues of a longer bar.
Here is my awesome client Maureen crushing a set with 85 pounds like it’s nothing. I assure you though, this is crazy strong, as Maureen can bilateral hip thrust 365×5 (see here).
You’ll notice that she uses big bumper plates so that it’s easier to get the bar in and out of position. I highly recommend using bumper plates if you have them, but if you don’t, then it can tricky, especially since most commercial gyms have those preset E-Z bars with the small plates.
I hardly ever go into commercial gyms these gyms so I’ve grown spoiled and never really think of these potential issues. Yesterday I trained Maureen in a commercial gym though and realized that without bumper plates, it’s very difficult to use the E-Z bar.
So I put on my thinking cap and came up with a great solution using two aerobic steps. See below.
You just put the bar on the steps, sit down with your back against the bench, then roll the bar over your hips and go. At the end of the set, you just rest the bar back on the steps and roll it off you so you can stand up without an issue. The setup is a breeze and takes less than a minute, and most gyms will have two aerobic steps laying around.
It worked very well, and it was much easier to get in and out of place. It also still allows for a full range of motion as well.
It’s very similar to my Rack Hip Thrust idea, only commercial gym friendly since you don’t need a rack. You could also use this method for bilateral hip thrusts with the E-Z bar, so for those of you that avoid hip thrusts just because it’s a pain to set up and execute, here’s a great option for you.
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