Strength athletes who want to develop the muscles of their lower body muscles optimally, don’t have to choose between the barbell-deadlift and the hip-thrust. Instead, they may consider to give both exercises a place in their training routines. According to a Norwegian study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the barbell-deadlift is a superior exercise for the hamstrings, while the hip-thrust is the better exercise for the glutes.
The researchers had 13 trained strength athletes perform the barbell-deadlift, the hip-thrust and the hexbar-deadlift with a weight with which just 1 rep was possible. The researchers had placed electrodes on the legs and lower back of the test subjects, so that they could see how hard the muscles under the electrodes had to work.
Of the three exercises, the barbell-deadlift stimulated the leg biceps the best. The hip-thust delivered the best stimulus to the glutes.
When the researchers developed their data further, they saw that the hip-thrust stimulated the glutes better than other exercises especially in the last part of the movement.
“During a lift with maximum loading, the hip thrust was the exercise that provided the highest muscle activation for the gluteus maximus, particularly in the upper phase of the movement where standing exercises have decreased tension on the hip extensors”, the researchers write
“The barbell deadlift was clearly more effective in activating the biceps femoris than the hip thrust and hex bar deadlift. The hex bar deadlift generally provided the lowest muscle activation for these muscles.”
“For optimal hip extensor strength development, we therefore recommend including both the hip thrust and barbell deadlift exercises.”