Hip extensor muscles are critical to sport performance as events requiring sprinting and forceful landings are highly dependent on these muscles. Despite biomechanical differences between the barbell hip thrust (BHT) and the barbell glute bridge (BGB), both are biomechanically efficient ways to load this musculature for training purposes. Research investigating the differences in muscular activity between the BHT and BGB has yet been conducted. The aim of this study was to investigate, through surface electromyography, if one exercise is more optimal than the other in producing greater muscle activation for specific hip extensor muscles. Ten male participants completed a two-part study protocol. Results revealed the BHT elicited significantly greater muscle activity within the vastus lateralis for peak and mean outcomes; however, the BGB elicited significantly greater muscle activity in the upper and lower gluteus maximus for peak and mean outcomes and mean outcome in the gluteus medius. Current findings suggest, the BGB is, at minimum, a superior substitute for the BHT for eliciting a larger magnitude of activity in the gluteus maximus. Future studies between the two exercises are warranted to discern which produces greater hypertrophy and whether adaption of the BHT or BGB transfers more optimally to sport performance.
Keywords: Hip extension; hamstring; posterior kinetic chain; quadriceps; strength training.