Barbell hip exercises: 5 Must-Try Barbell Exercises for Strong Hips

August 10, 2023 / Workout
Barbell hip exercises: 5 Must-Try Barbell Exercises for Strong Hips

Barbell hip exercises are a gateway to unlocking the potential of your lower body muscles, particularly the glutes, hamstrings, and core. These compound movements support balanced development and muscle strength by working more than one muscle group at the same time. By incorporating barbell hip exercises into your routine, you can increase your hip strength and achieve a well-rounded lower body transformation.


The hip muscles play a vital role in our daily movements, from walking and running to squatting and jumping. Strong hip muscles contribute to improved posture, enhanced athletic performance, and reduced risk of injuries. One effective way to target and strengthen these muscles is by incorporating barbell exercises into your fitness routine. In this blog post, we’ll delve into five must-try barbell exercises that specifically target and strengthen the hips. Whether you’re an experienced lifter or just starting your fitness journey, incorporating these exercises into your routine can lead to better hip strength, stability, and overall performance.

Hip Muscles and Functions

Before we explore the barbell exercises that can target and strengthen the hip muscles, let’s understand the main muscles involved and their functions:

glute muslces
  1. Iliopsoas Group:
    • Muscles: Iliacus, psoas major, and psoas minor
    • Key Role: Initiates hip flexion and contributes to trunk stabilization during movements like walking and climbing stairs (1).
  2. Gluteal Muscles (Superficial):
    • Muscles: Gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae.
    • Key Role: Powerful hip extensors, maintain pelvic stability, contribute to walking, running, and standing.
  3. Lateral Rotator Group (Deep Gluteal Muscles):
    • Muscles: Piriformis, gemellus superior, obturator internus, gemellus inferior, obturator externus, and quadratus femoris.
    • Key Role: It maintains hip joint stability, facilitates rotational movements, and supports overall hip functionality.
  4. Adductor Group:
    • Muscles: Gracilis, pectineus, adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, and adductor minimus.
    • Key Role: Bringing the thigh toward the body’s midline, contribute to maintaining balance and stability.

Strong hips are essential for overall stability, power, and athleticism.

From the iliopsoas group that flexes our trunks and thighs to the gluteal muscles that power our steps and the hip adductors that bring our legs together, each muscle group has a unique role in maintaining balance, stability, and mobility.

Barbell exercises engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, promoting balanced muscle development, improved stability, and overall strength. Incorporating barbell exercises into your workout routine can be an effective way to target and strengthen the hips while also engaging other muscle groups for a well-rounded training experience.

5 Best Barbell Hip Exercises for Strong and Shaped Hips

Whether you’re a master lifter or a beginner, these exercises help you build strength, size and shape in these muscle groups, helping you achieve more defined and toned hips. Here are some barbell exercises that target the hip muscles:


Barbell Hip Thrust

Muscles Targeted: Gluteus maximus, hamstrings, hip adductors, core.

In the realm of strength training, few exercises can rival the effectiveness of the barbell hip thrust. This powerhouse movement is a staple in any serious lifter’s routine, with its ability to target and strengthen the glutes muscles like no other.


  • Position your upper back against a bench and place the barbell over your hip bones.
  • Lean back, bend your knees, and plant your feet firmly on the floor.
  • Engage your core, thrust your hips upward, and squeeze your glutes at the top.
  • Lower your hips down, almost touching the floor, before thrusting them back up.

Repetitions and Sets:

  • Perform 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps for optimal results.


Barbell Glute Bridge

Muscles Targeted: Gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, hamstrings.

The Barbell Glute Bridge hones in on the glutes, ensuring maximum muscle engagement for enhanced shaping and strengthening. This exercise is a testament to the transformative power of barbell hip exercises. So, grab that barbell, position yourself on the floor, and embrace the challenge that will elevate your lower body strength and lead you toward your fitness goals.


  • Roll the barbell over your hip bones and then lie down, bending your knees and planting your feet on the ground, hip-width apart.
  • Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip and engage your core.
  • Press through your heels, lift your hips off the ground, and squeeze your glutes at the top.
  • Lower your hips back down and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Repetitions and Sets:

  • Perform 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps for optimal results.

3- Barbell Sumo Deadlift

Barbell Sumo Deadlift

Muscles Targeted: Gluteus maximus, hamstrings, adductors, hip flexors, lower back.

The barbell sumo deadlift engages a spectrum of hip muscles while also involving your back and legs. This compound movement is a gateway to remarkable hip strength and functional performance.


  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, barbell centered over your feet.
  • Grip the barbell, maintain a flat back, and lift it while pushing through your heels.
  • Stand tall, then lower the barbell to the ground with control.

Repetitions and Sets:

  • Perform 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps for optimal results.

4- Front Squat

front squat

Muscles Targeted: Gluteus maximus, quadriceps, hip adductors, core.

The front squat is a fantastic barbell exercise that not only strengthens the hips but also engages the quads, core, and upper back. It requires a bit more balance and mobility than the traditional back squat, making it an excellent choice for overall lower body development.


  • Set the barbell on the front of your shoulders, hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Step back, maintain an upright posture, and descend into a squat.
  • Push through your heels to rise back up.

Repetitions and Sets:

  • Perform 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps for optimal results.

5- Barbell Side Lunge

Barbell Lateral Lunge

Muscles Targeted: Gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, adductors, hip abductors, quadriceps.

The barbell side lunge introduces lateral movement, targeting the often-neglected gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and adductor muscles. It enhances hip stability while building strength in various planes. The exercise also targets the adductors and hip abductors.


  • Hold the barbell across your upper back.
  • Take a lateral step and bend the knee of the lunging leg while keeping the other leg straight.
  • Push off the lunging leg to return to the starting position and switch sides.

Repetitions and Sets:

  • Perform 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps for optimal results.


Strengthening the hip muscles is essential for optimal functional movement, athletic performance, and overall well-being. Barbell exercises offer an effective way to target and improve the strength of the key hip muscles, including the gluteus maximus, medius, minimus, hamstrings, adductors, and hip flexors. By incorporating exercises like barbell hip thrusts, glute bridges, sumo deadlifts, front squats, and barbell side lunges into your workout routine, you can enhance hip stability, mobility, and power. Remember to start with appropriate weights and focus on proper form to maximize the benefits of these exercises and achieve stronger, healthier hips.

barbell hip workout
Posted by
Kelvin johnson
With a career spanning over a decade, Kelvin holds certifications as a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Exercise Physiologist. His mission is simple yet powerful: to provide effective training for individuals willing to put in the work.