Last updated on November 15th, 2022 at 01:41 pm
I can guarantee that you’re not the only one asking, “Why Do I Feel Hip Thrusts in My Lower Back?”
In fact, as great an exercise as hip thrusts are, many of us typically experience discomfort or even pain when performing them.
And unfortunately, this often occurs in the non-target muscles, such as the lower back.
So, allow me to explain why you feel hip thrusts in your lower back and how you can fix this.
Why Do I Feel Hip Thrusts in My Lower Back?
One of the major reasons you feel hip thrusts in your lower back is due to insufficient posterior pelvic tilt at the top of the movement. In effect, rather than pushing the front of your pelvis up you are hyperextending your lower back. Additionally, if you’re someone who has anterior pelvic tilt you will typically try to avoid tensing your lower back whenever standing. However, tension in the lower back will automatically increase when you perform hip thrusts.
Are You Hyperextending Your Lower Back During Hip Thrusts?
When it comes to performing hip thrusts you will obviously be focusing on working your glutes.
This means that you will be required to maximise gluteal contraction during the exercise, but especially at the top.
However, you should also contract your glutes at the start of the movement and maintain this throughout your entire set.
In fact, a great coaching cue is to imagine that you’re holding a coin between your butt cheeks.
So, you’ll want to ensure that your imaginary coin stays in place until the end of your set.
With that being said, the greatest glute contraction occurs at the top of the movement.
This involves fully extending your hips until you can’t move the weight upwards any further.
Plus, this is the time that you should be squeezing your glutes harder than at any other time during the movement.
However, in order to get the weight up you should also be posteriorially rotating your pelvis at the top.
This will generally involve contracting your abs at the same time.
This will then help you to pull your glutes into full hip extension.
With that being said, if you’re experiencing lower back pain this will typically mean that you’re not efficiently using posterior pelvic tilt.
In effect, rather than using your pelvis at the top of the movement you’re hyperextending your lower back.
This will mean that your lower back is curved at the top of hip thrusts, thus placing a huge amount of stress on your spinal extensors.
I will also say that I often see this same type of hyperextension when some people perform deadlifts.
Basically, the hip-hinge movement should always be finished by squeezing your glutes.
But, if you’re choosing to lean backwards (this is essentially what you’re doing during hip thrusts), all the pressure is placed onto your lower back.
Do You Have Anterior Pelvic Tilt?
Staying on the subject of “pelvic tilt”, this could provide an explanation as to why you feel hip thrusts in your lower back.
And this is especially true if you have anterior pelvic tilt.
This is characterised by the front of the pelvis rotating forward, whereas the back of the pelvis rises.
In essence, it looks as though your butt is constantly sticking up and out.
Now, if you are someone who has anterior pelvic tilt you’ll have trouble activating your glutes.
In fact, your quads and lower back are generally very dominant.
Plus, you may also have stiff, tight, or overactive hip flexors.
You’ll probably find that your lower back, especially the spinal extensors, are quite vulnerable whenever you tense your lower back.
This is even true when you’re in a standing position.
However, this tension is dramatically increased when you perform hip thrusts as someone who has anterior pelvic tilt.
What eventually happens here is that you become over-reliant on using your lower back muscles in order to move the weight during hip thrusts.
And of course, you’ll feel this constantly in your lower back, while increasing your risk of injury.
Now, depending on exactly how much you feel hip thrusts in your lower back, you may be better off avoiding the exercise for a while.
Basically, anterior pelvic tilt can cause issues when performing hip thrusts, as well as squats and deadlifts.
I’m not saying that you should stop doing these exercises forever, but the last thing you want is to cause yourself an injury.
So, this could be a case of “fixing” anterior pelvic tilt first before you return to hip thrusts.
Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt in 10 Minutes a Day
How Heavy Are Your Hip Thrusts?
Something else to consider is the amount of weight you’re using for hip thrusts.
In fact, I’m often amazed at how much weight some people hip thrust.
And this is especially true when compared to how much weight they use for the other big lower body lifts.
I’ll admit that with regular training and good nutrition you could build hip thrusts up to be the heaviest barbell movement you perform.
I mean, it makes sense that if you’re targeting the largest muscle in the body that you should be shifting the most weight.
So, I see nothing wrong with your hip thrust eventually taking over your deadlift.
However, if you’re hip thrusting an excessive amount of weight in comparison to your squat and deadlift then something isn’t right.
I have actually seen someone at my own gym “capable” of hip thrusting 4 plates on either side of the bar.
However, their squat form is off with just one plate on either side, and even worse when deadlifting with two plates.
This tells me that they aren’t potentially lifting the weight with their butt, and there are other non-target muscles involved.
In truth, it’s not unusual to feel hip thrusts in your hamstrings, quads, knees, as well as your lower back.
So, if you are thrusting a lot more weight than the other compound movements it may be time to check your form.
And this is especially true if you’re feeling it in your lower back.
Basically, don’t think your glutes are going to blow up just because you’ve added a huge amount of weight to the bar.
In fact, you’ll probably experience far greater glute growth with a lighter weight and higher reps.
So much so, that I generally think that 15-25 is the perfect rep range for hip thrusts.
Pick a lighter weight and leave your ego at the door.
So, as you can see, the main reason you feel hip thrusts in your lower back is because you’re not using posterior pelvic tilt to get the weight up.
In effect, you’re hyperextending your lower back at the top of hip thrusts.
This in itself places a huge amount of stress on the lower back.
Then again, you may be someone who has anterior pelvic tilt, which typically means that your non-target muscles will take over during certain exercises.
Finally, while progression is key to build a fantastic butt, ensure that you’re not lifting more weight than your glutes can handle.
Now, as weird as this sounds, it’s definitely something which occurs, so discover what I have to say about your glutes being different sizes.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.