Gluteal muscle activation during deadlift and barbell hip thrust.

Makenzy Tibbot
Kelly Helm, Valparaiso University

Developing gluteal muscles in the posterior chain has been found to be a preventative measure for injury. Barbell Hip Thrust has increasingly gained popularity as the best exercise for gluteal activation based off of sEMG studies. Novice individuals, who are beginning their resistance training or recovering from previous injury, may not be able to perform these exercises using a barbell and plates but exercises like the single leg glute bridge are a great alternative to the hip thrust to allow balance and strength to begin development for safe and effective progression.


The purpose of this study was to compare the right and left gluteus medius (GMed) and gluteus maximus (GMax) muscle activity between a conventional deadlift and a barbell hip thrust through the use of surface electromyography (sEMG). Four participants (2M: 2F) completed the study. sEMG sensors were placed on each participant right and left gluteal muscles. Each participant completed three maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) followed by 1-repetition maximum(1RM) of each exercise. Each participant completed three trials of each lift. The MVIC was used for normalization if each repetition. The 1RM was used to calculate 80% for resistance used for each trial repetition for each lift. Descriptive statistics reveal the average mean percent activation of RGMax for deadlift was 38.01% and for hip thrust was 42.36% and deadlift LGMax was 44.27% activation while hip thrust was 58.41%. RGMed deadlift activation was 32.33 % with the hip thrust activation at 49.41% of MVIC. LGMed for deadlift showed 28.62 MVIC and for hip thrust 46.09% MVIC. The hypothesis is supported. The hip thrust is a better activator of the gluteal muscles than the deadlift. This small study supports the impact of the hip thrust exercise to strengthen the gluteal muscles.