An exercise that I know I talked about last year in relation to things that are both good baseline strength builders for more fancy stuff like the oly lifts, and also good preventative hip health/ flute and ham strength exercises is the barbell hip thrust. Sometimes it’s called the hip bridge instead, which usually means your shoulders are on the floor, as opposed to a bench. Those are the two commonly recommended variations – shoulders on floor, or the edge of a bench; I was first taught using a bench. I prefer the bench, but it feels a bit precarious and I find the height of a standard bench to be a bit high and reduce my workload a little at the top of the movement. Using the floor, on the other hand, means I lose more of the bottom of the movement at the point when the plates hit the ground with less of a range of motion. Recently Casey was making use of our bench when it was time for my hip thrusts, and I was forced to get creative because I didn’t want to go with the annoying-to-me floor method. And out of necessity, a solution that I find more effective than either was born with the help of a Dynamax med ball.
This looks like the setup for a particularly unpleasant CrossFit Games Open workout, right? Or the old-school Nasty Girls – things I really miss doing while I’m on the comeback train.
But it’s actually my Goldi-locks solution to “bench is too high, floor is too low!” It turns out “this medicine ball is juuuuust right.” I prefer it not just in terms of height, but stability (and, ironically, in-stability at the same time – I’ll explain). Because the med ball is both rounded and soft, it settle in comfortably and securely right between my shoulder blades – with the bench, I’m always struggling to find the sweet spot where my shoulders are firmly settled but I’m not tipping the bench.
It’s more stable in terms of shoulder placement – but in terms of the work I can feel my stabilizing muscles getting while I perform the movement, far superior – I think not so much because of the roundness as because it places me at a much flatter angle, where the top of the movement is quite close to an inverted plank.
I like that this is a much more comfortable way to perform the exercise and that it also seems to be adding to those all-important stabilization benefits; from now on this is how I’ll be doing all of my not at all awkward looking hip-thrusts!