Hip dominant exercises.

Do you know what they are?

Or why they’re important?

If you don’t, you’re not alone. Lots of people don’t know what hip dominant exercises are. In fact, I didn’t know what movement patterns were until a few years after I started lifting.

Which is why I wrote this article. So you can learn what hip dominant exercises are and why they’re important. No more running around the gym with no structure and no results.

Shall we begin?

Hip dominant exercises

What are Hip Dominant Exercises?

Hip dominant exercises are exercises where the movement occurs through the hip joint. In hip dominant exercises, you will be bending at the hip instead of the knee when performing the movement.

Why are they important?

These exercises are important because they target your glutes, hamstrings and lower back. Knee dominant exercises on the other hand, target your quads (think squats). Therefore, you need to include hip dominant exercises to make sure that you are also developing the glutes and hamstrings. This will help to prevent muscle imbalances which increases your risk of injury.

The Hip Dominant Exercises

Delicious Deadlifts


There are a ton of different deadlift variations. Each variation recruits similar muscles, but they activate the muscles to a different degree. For example, sumo deadlifts activates your glutes more compared to a conventional deadlift. Whereas the conventional deadlift targets your hamstrings more.

Hip Thrusts

Hip Thrust

The trusty ole hip thrust.

The hip thrust is a fantastic exercise to build your glutes. You can do a barbell hip thrust, dumbbell hip thrust, bodyweight hip thrust and more.

Hip thrusts are super simple to set up and allows you to really pack on the weight for maximal muscle growth.

The Cable Pull Through

Other than the hip thrust, the cable pull through is terrific at building your glutes. It targets your glutes and your hamstrings. But it also allows you to get a squeeze in right at the top of the movement which will help your glute development.

The cable pull through follows a similar movement to a deadlift except you have more resistance at the top of the movement. Which means you can get a phenomenal glute contraction compared to the deadlift.

Glute Bridge

The glute bridge is similar to the hip thrust except your upper body is on the floor, not on a bench. This means that it can be difficult to add heavy weights because of how the exercises is set up. It is still an excellent exercise and should be included to develop your glutes and hamstrings.

Even though it is harder to load it up with weights, it can be modified into single leg exercises more easily than a hip thrust.

Your options are single leg glute bridge and elevated single leg glute bridge.

Your hamstrings are going to be on fire, you have been warned. Somebody call 911 your booty gonna be on fire on the gym floor whoa! Did you see what I did there?

Okay never mind. I’ll stick to writing.

Good Mornings

Good morning exercise

No. Not the greeting. The exercise.

If you need a break from deadlifts, the good morning is an awesome alternative.

If you have never done it before, start with lighter weights until you are used to doing the exercise. It may be a bit strange at first because the bar is on your back instead of in your hands.

Personally, when I first did them, I felt like I was going to fall over. But my hamstrings certainly felt like they got their ass kicked the next day.

Tips for Performing Hip Dominant Exercises

Start with Light Weights

If you have never done these exercises before or if you have taken a break from training for some time, then start with light weights. Learn how to do the exercises with the correct form first and then start adding heavier weights.

If you want to avoid injuries, you want to nail your form for the exercises first and then start challenging yourself. If you are lifting with poor form, you may not get injured at first, but it will catch you once you start lifting heavy.

Which you should be for the record. Because little pink dumbbells don’t get you results.


Start with the Basic Variations First

For example, learn how to perform the glute bridge properly and with good form before moving onto single leg glute bridges. Single leg variations of exercises are harder because you now have to balance yourself while performing the exercise. It is definitely not a good idea to attempt these if you can’t perform the basic variation.

Learn the Hip Hinge

In order to do these exercises, you will have to hinge at your hips. This will ensure that you are performing the movement safely and that you are hitting the right muscles.

If you don’t hinge at the hip, you are probably bending at your lower back which could lead to a lower back injury. Yikes!

To teach yourself the hip hinge, place a bar/stick against your back. The stick needs to make contact with your head, shoulders, lower back and butt. Stand close to a wall and bend over with the stick still up against your back. Your goal is to try and touch the wall with your butt.

The stick will help to keep your back straight. Practice with the stick first for a couple of times and then see how you do without it. If you still struggle to hinge properly, go back to practicing with the stick..

What are Movement Patterns?

Movement patterns

Movement patterns are categories of exercises that follow a certain pattern of movement. They’re important because knowing what the different categories are means you can create your own balanced training program.

Which is crucial.

A balanced training routine is important because it will prevent muscle imbalances which could lead to a painful injury.

There are lots of different categories of movement patterns, but the following are the most important to remember:

Knee dominant exercises

Vertical pull exercises

Horizontal pull exercises

Vertical push exercises

Horizontal push exercises

To create a balanced program, make sure you select exercises from each category. You don’t have to perform them all in one workout, but your weekly routine should include exercises from all the categories.

If you follow this advice you will be hitting all your muscle groups and build a balanced physique.

If you are still on the “I don’t train upper body” train, then get off at the next stop. You need upper body strength to be able to train your lower body properly.

If you don’t have upper body strength you won’t be able to load the weights on to the barbell or machine. You also won’t be able to do exercises such as walking lunges. Trust me I’ve been there. You plateau quickly when you can’t do exercises because your upper body is too weak to carry the weights.

And how are you going to build a strong, healthy body when you can’t do the exercises required to get them to that stage?

So what’s next?

The next step is to include some of these hip dominant exercises into your current routine. You don’t have to include them all. Choose one or two that you really enjoy doing and add them to your lower body or full body workouts. Remember, get your form right and then start adding weights.

Are you ready to dominate hip dominant exercises?

Don’t forget to check out the freebie library for some useful guides and cheat sheets to help you do you.

Happy lifting!

Anna Mathis, CPT,CNC
Anna Mathis, CPT,CNC

Anna is a certified personal trainer, certified nutrition coach, and science junkie who has a passion for teaching women about weight training, nutrition, and wellness.