If you follow any #fitspo account on Instagram, you’ve probably seen thousands of different workout routines that’ll help you sculpt the butt of your dreams. But if there’s one thing anyone who has built a booty can agree on, it’s that glute bridges are key.

“This move won’t grow the booty alone,” says Jenna Epperly, ACE-certified trainer at Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach, VA. “But it is, without a doubt, an effective exercise to add to any leg and glute day.”

Contents

How To Do Glute Bridge

How to: Lie on your back with feet flat against the floor and knees bent. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off of the floor until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Pause at the top, then lower back down to the starting position.

Form tip: Be sure not to hyperextend at the top of the movement. This shouldn’t hurt your lower back pain, says Epperly.

Reps/sets you should do to see results: If you’re sticking to basic glute bridge, aim for three to four sets of 15 to 25 reps. If you’re using weight or elevation, opt for the lower end of the set and rep range until you build up strength.

The Benefits Of Glute Bridge

The glute bridge mainly targets its namesake muscles in your booty. But this butt exercise also improves your core stabilization. “The glute bridge is important because it strengthens the muscles in the posterior chain—your whole backside,” says Epperly. “And it’s an especially important move if you sit all day long.” (Guilty!)

Make the Glute Bridge Part Of Your Workout

Aim to hit glute bridges once or twice a week, on either a total-body or leg and butt day, says Epperly. She especially likes using the move for burnout circuits after a leg lift (like squats or deadlifts). “It’s a great move to challenge your glutes and hamstrings after those muscles are already fatigued.”

If you’re new to glute exercises, the basic bridge is enough to get your booty burning. But if you already have baseline strength and don’t feel the burn after three or four sets, upgrade to one of the endless variations:

  • Add a resistance band looped it over your legs, resting just above your knees at the bulge of your quads; as you lift your hips, press your knees out to maintain tension on the resistance band.
  • Hold the contraction at the top of the movement for 30 seconds.
  • Place a dumbbell or barbell directly over your hips. Hold on to it as you lift and lower.
  • Lift one leg straight out, parallel to the floor. Lift and lower, keeping that leg off the ground. Switch legs every other set.
  • Place your feet on a stability ball or an elevated bench or step before you lift and lower.

Or combine a few of the above. “The variations are endless,” says Epperly.

Rachael Schultz Rachael Schultz is a freelance writer with years of experience covering health, nutrition, and physiology.

The Bridge Exercise – 2 Prerequisites

The Bridge exercise is a classic staple in back pain treatment and rehabilitation. There is a good reason for this. It is simple, effective, and can be easily modified to meet the needs of virtually any patient.

And it targets one of the most common issues we see with lower back pain… weak and inhibited glutes. This dysfunction can be diagnosed through the observation of reduced muscle mass in the posterior hip, or with a failed Janda Active Hip Extenson Test (the patient will extend the leg with the hamstring and erectors instead of their glute).

So when you see these patterns in your office the Bridge Exercise should start to show up on your radar.

But keep in mind that just prescribing the Bridge is probably not going to help. That’s because when the glute is inhibited other muscles with be overactive to pick up the slack. More often than not this will be the hamstrings, but it can also involve the quads or even the erectors.

This pattern of under-active glute and over-active hamstring will occur with with functional movements like the squat or during gait. And unless we take steps to prevent it, this pattern will also occur with rehab exercise that target the glutes. Including the Bridge exercise!

So yes, the Bridge exercise can be one of the most effective exercises to rehab the glutes. But to be effective the it needs to be executed correctly.

So in this article let’s take a look at an old classic, and discover what the Bridge does, and how to make sure your patients are doing it properly.

Like most lumbar stability exercises, with the Bridge we are trying to train the body to move through the hips while maintaining control and alignment of the spine. This requires two things.

First, the patient must be able to position the pelvis and lumbar spine in a proper (i.e, neutral) position. And they need to be able to hold the spine in this position. So the patient needs to be able to properly perform an anterior and posterior pelvic tilt. And the patient needs to be able to perform an abdominal brace.

So just like like most spine stability exercise progressions, pelvic tilts and abdominal bracing are the starting points for the Bridge exercise.

As these skills are learned the patient can then move on to the second requirement, which is developing the ability to generate a proper glute contraction. With this task they need to focus on what it feels like to engage the glutes.

Usually this is simply a matter of having the patient squeeze their glutes to voluntarily activate them. If there is any difficulty with this I usually send them home with these ‘butt squeezes’ as their home exercise. Once they have mastered this (usually they have this down by the next visit) I will move onto the Bridge exercises itself.

Here are the Bridge exercise progressions that I find most useful. If you are a My Rehab Connection subscriber you can find this progression in the My Exercise Groups section.

Basic Bridge with Band

I almost always prefer to start with a Basic Bridge with a stiff band or strap around the knees. To begin the exercise I will have them perform a light abdominal brace, then press the knees out against the strap. This helps to activate the entire glute group during the exercise. Also, I prefer a stiff strap over a theraband as they can push harder while keeping the knees aligned between the hips and feet. The patient then squeezes their gutes and lifts their hips off the floor.

During this sequence there are two key things to check.

First, does the spine stay in neutral? If the posterior trunk muscles (especially the multifidi) are weak or underactive the spine will flex. It will appear that they are lifting the hips with an exaggerated posterior pelvic tilt.

This is bad. You need to correct this by cueing them to maintain an slight arch/anterior pelvic tilt in their lumbar spine and hold an isometric abdominal brace as they lift. This is why pelvic tilts and bracing need to be mastered first.

Second, you need to make sure the glutes drive the motion. As discussed above, it is not enough that this is a ‘glute’ exercise. And it’s not enough that the patient can activate the glutes at rest. The activation needs to be maintained with movement.

You can check this by palpating the hamstrings for over-activity as they lift off the floor. But it is easier to simply ask the patient which muscles they feel working. When done correctly they should feel the glutes working. Remember, the hamstrings will be contracting but they should play a support role, not the primary role.

If the patient has trouble with this a simple trick is to have then move the feet in closer to the hips. This will shorten the hamstrings and make them harder to activate.

Here are the step-by-step instructions for the Basic Bridge with Band exercise.

  • Begin lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and stiff strap or belt tied around your knees. Your knees should be about 6-8 inches apart so they are in line with your hips and feet.
  • Push your knees out against the band or belt. Then squeeze your ‘butt’ muscles and lift your hips off the floor.
  • Hold the hips off the floor for 1-2 seconds then slowly return to the starting position.
  • Lift the hips into the air again. Repeat this up and down motion for 10-15 repetitions.
  • Perform 2-3 sets once per day.

Bridge with Single Leg Static Hold

The Bridge with Single Leg Static Hold is similar to the Basic Bridge exercises, but at the top of the bridge you will lift one foot off the floor. Moving to single leg support creates an additional rotational load. The goal is to hold the hips and pelvis level to resist this load. This helps to build transverse plane stability.

Here’s how to do it.

  • Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Squeeze your ‘butt’ muscles and lift your hips off the floor.
  • Now lift 1 leg off the floor. Keep your abdominal muscles tight and continue to squeeze your ‘butt’ muscle on your stance leg – do not allow your hips or pelvis to twist towards the floor.
  • Hold this position 1-2 seconds then return your foot to the floor.
  • Slowly lower your hips to the floor, then repeat on the opposite leg.
  • Perform 2-3 sets once per day.

Bridge with Marching

The Bridge with Marching is utilized the same principles as the Bridge with single leg hold. But in this progression you will alternate lifting each leg while staying in the bridged position.

This will increase the demand on the spinal stabilizers from a coordination standpoint (you now need to shift weight between legs while maintaining spinal control). This also further challenges endurance as the muscle need to stabilize the lumbar spine for a longer duration.

Here’s how you do it.

  • Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Squeeze your ‘butt’ muscles and lift your hips off the floor.
  • Lift and extend 1 leg. Keep your abdominal muscles tight and continue to squeeze your ‘butt’ muscle on your stance leg to hold the back stable.
  • Hold this position 1-2 seconds then return your foot to the floor.
  • Now lift and extend the opposite leg.
  • Hold this position 1-2 seconds then return your foot to the floor.
  • Lift and lower each leg 5 times then lower your hips back to the floor.
  • Perform 2-3 sets 1x/day.

Single Leg Bridge

The last exercise in the progression is the full Single Leg Bridge. This progression places a much greater demand on the glute as the body is now raised and lowered on a single leg. You must keep the hips and pelvis level as you raise up and down.

Here’s how you do it.

  • Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Squeeze your ‘butt’ muscles and lift your hips off the floor.
  • Lift and extend 1 leg. Keep your abdominal muscles tight and continue to squeeze your ‘butt’ muscle on your stance leg to hold the back stable.
  • Keeping your leg extended slowly lower your hips towards the floor.
  • Raise back up to the bridge position.
  • Perform 10-15 repetitions then repeat on the opposite leg.
  • Perform 2-3 sets per leg 1x/day.

Other Common Bridge Variations

Keep in mind that the exercises I include in my typical progression sequence are only a few of the possible variations of the Bridge exercise. There are countless others. While I usually stick to the exercises described above (my rule is to keep things as simple as possible), one variation I do use at times is to perform the bridge on a stability ball.

For the most part I find the the standard Bridge exercise is better for facilitating and strengthening the glutes. But when general balance and/or controlling lumbar spine posture is a more prominent deficiency adding the stability ball care be a huge help. FYI, each of the progression described done on a stability ball can also be found in the exercise library.

10 Benefits of Glute Bridges That Really Do Make A Difference

You’ve probably been in the gym before and seen someone doing glute badges and wondered what are the benefits of glute bridges

In this blog post we’re going to be delving into the benefits of glute bridges and workouts and ways to maximize them.

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Here are some of the benefits of glute bridges you will gain:

You’ll have great posture:

When you spend the majority of your day sitting, your glute muscles can get weaker, while the hip flexors in the front of your thighs can shorten, making them feel tight.

Eventually, you will end up slouching as your tight hip flexors pull you forward and your glutes aren’t strong enough to pull you upright.

But when you practice glute bridges regularly you are targeting your glutes and your lower back muscles, those muscles that are meant to hold your body upright will be getting stronger.

Strengthening the glutes and erector spinae helps you keep your posture upright whether you’re standing or sitting throughout your day.

Strengthens your core:

Although the exercise targets the butt area, the glute bridge does a great job of activating and strengthening your core stabilizer muscles.

The transversus abdominis and multifidus muscles enclose your entire midsection. They are designed to support the spine and when reinforced will hold the stomach in like a corset.

This exercise contributes towards flattening your tummy, focusing on the muscles in your six pack, and working the obliques, which will give you a more defined waistline.

You’ll tone and shape your butt:

The bridge and the squat incorporate hip and knee extension so they use the same set of muscles, which includes the gluteus maximus and quadriceps.

But the main muscle used in the bridge is the gluteus maximus muscle, the largest one in the buttocks.

And that will go a long way towards toning your butt to give you the shape you want!

They will help with lower-back pain:

The bridge helps to reduce lower-back pain as well. It works the hamstrings, lower back, abs, in addition to the glutes.

With many of the benefits similar to that of a squat, another plus for the glute bridge is that it does not place any pressure on the lower back.

This is also a great exercise for people who are unable to squat due to back, hip, or knee pain. With the bridge, a person can work on these muscles while lying down and avoid putting pressure on his joints.

The glute bridge, which is much easier to learn than the squat, can be used as a training tool for building up to the full squat exercise.

Glute bridges can improve your golf game:

Strong glutes will help stabilize your pelvis so you can stay in the correct posture throughout the swing, from start to finish. This will give you a stronger and more consistent swing.

“Golfers with a low handicap are more likely to have increased pelvic rotation speed as well as increased gluteus maximus and medius strength when compared to high handicap golfers.” –Callaway, Glaws et al. from the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy.

Will help decrease your knee pain

One of the main reasons for knee pain is lack of control of the femur, the upper leg bone.

Not having enough control of the femur can have the femur sliding forward, causing internal rotation or collapsing towards the midline of the body.

These movements are often associated with knee pain. The glutes play a big part in controlling the femur at the hip joint which affects how the other bones of the knee joint work together.

Source: http://www.lifehack.org/302252/8-amazing-things-that-will-happen-when-you-bridges-every-day

Give you a stronger back:

Glute bridges not only work the hip extension but they also safely and effectively work the posterior muscles.

Do not overlook the muscles that line your posterior chain as it is the most influential muscle group in your body.

Remember, you need a strong back to have a strong body.

These muscles–which run from your calves, glutes, hamstrings and lower back–are extremely important for healthy movement, great posture, athleticism, and a back that is free from pain and discomfort.

Sprint faster, and jump higher:

Glute bridges are also beneficial in helping you run faster and jump higher since they strengthen the hip and leg muscles used in these activities. People often believe that you must work the calves, that they must do hundreds of calf raises to hopefully get the height and speed that they want. But this isn’t true, the power and speed you crave

People often believe that you must work the calves, that they must do hundreds of calf raises to hopefully get the height and speed that they want. But this isn’t true, the power and speed you crave

But this isn’t true, the power and speed you crave comes from the glutes. Studies have also found that correcting muscle deficiencies in the area of the hips and glutes will help minimize leg and knee issues for runners.

Source: https://www.exercise.com/exercises/glute-bridge

Correct your muscles imbalances:

Another great reason for adding a posterior move to your routine is that many people tend to focus and over train certain parts of their bodies, resulting in muscle imbalances.

Training only the front of your abs will leave your backside weaker and more susceptible to injuries.

Some trainers say that lower back issue often happens after people spend all their time doing crunches or other exercises that compress the spine.

One way to get stronger, and to avoid injury, is to work opposing muscle groups.

A more balanced approach to working out both sides of the body gives you good results.

Glute bridges will help improve your squats and deadlifts:

To help fire up the glutes for improving bench presses, incorporate glute bridges to a weight lifting program.

Leg drive is a huge part of lifting heavy weight. In particular, activating the glutes to aid the transference of power from the lower body to the upper body, as well as protecting the lower back, is often forgotten when bench pressing.

Some people have found that performing a few sets of fast barbell glute bridges to activate the glutes before benching can lead to improved bench presses.

Consistently doing bridges will help your glutes become as strong as your quads and hamstrings.

Image source: http://tonygentilcore.com/2015/01/yet-another-reason-include-barbell-glute-bridges-program/

How To Do a Glute Bridge

  • Lie with your back on the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees, and feet flat on the floor.
  • Your feet should be hip-width apart and close to your butt. To protect the lower back contract your glutes and squeeze your abs.
  • Continue contracting as you lift your hips up off the floor, hold at the top for a moment, and then lower back to the floor with control.
  • Do not rush your bridges, take the time to pause at the top and feel your glutes kick in. Source: http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/benefits-bridge-squat-exercises-15484.html

Image source: http://www.lifehack.org/302252/8-amazing-things-that-will-happen-when-you-bridges-every-day

This link is a video from Bret Contreras, who popularized the barbell glute bridge and is also known as The Glute Guy.

This video is great for learning the basics and making sure hips and glutes are positioned correctly and the proper form is used.

It shows three basic lower body exercises: the Box Squat, Hip Hinge, and Glute Bridge. The segment on the Glute Bridge comes in after the 9-minute mark of the video.

Source: https://bretcontreras.com/the-3-most-basic-lower-body-movement-patterns-box-squat-hip-hinge-rdl-glute-bridge/

Although glute bridges can be done with your body weight alone for resistance, there are various ways to add interest and to make them more challenging.

The basic move becomes a more advanced one by bringing a weight plate or barbell across your hips as you perform the exercise.

To add variety and intensity to the glute bridge exercise, the best tools to use are bands, benches and stability balls.

Single-Leg Bridge

This is similar to the traditional glute bridge but only one leg is used at a time. By balancing on just one leg the core becomes more involved. Your abs will have to kick in to help balance and stabilize the body.

  • Lie on your back, your hands placed by your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Raise one leg off the floor, bend it to 90 degrees or point your toes towards the ceiling. Make sure you don’t swing the raised leg as you lift.
  • Push up through your heels and upper back, while lifting your hips as high as possible.
  • Hold at the top and lower back down slowly.
  • Keep your abs braced so you don’t feel it in your lower back.

Source: https://redefiningstrength.com/best-glute-exercise-glute-bridge/

Image source:

Marching Glute Bridge

This bridge exercise works the individual sides of your body, which helps isolate muscles, pinpoints imbalances and shores them up. Your obliques also get some attention here, which is crucial for spine stability and rotating your body smoothly.

  • Lie on your back, your knees should be bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Place your hands at your sides, palms facing down, or above your head.
  • Press into a bridge as you lift your hips and butt off the floor.
  • With your left knee bent, lift your left foot off the floor until your left knee is directly above your left hip.
  • Flex your left foot as your right foot presses into the floor for stability.
  • Bring your left foot back to the ground and repeat with your right leg.
  • Be sure to keep your hips lifted the entire time. Continue for 30 seconds.

Source: http://www.health.com/fitness/glute-bridges-tv-exercises

Stability Ball Bridge

Incorporating a stability ball to the glute bridge brings the exercise to a more advanced level. Target the core to help keep the body balanced and in line. Lie faceup with knees bent, place feet on top of a stability ball.

  • Brace your abs to keep the ball still as you press through your heels and elevate your hips by squeezing your glutes.
  • Rest on your shoulders and upper back as you keep the body in a straight line, don’t let your hips drop.
  • Slowly lower hips to the ground while keeping the ball still.

Source: https://www.acefitness.org/exercise-library-details/1/66/

1 Leg (TRX) Glute Bridge

This challenging move really works your core for stabilization as well as firing up your glute muscles.

  • Secure 2 TRX straps together by looping one handle through the other.
  • Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, knees bent, one heel inside the TRX straps so that the TRX hangs vertically, and the other heel in the air with knee still bent.
  • Squeeze your glute to lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line. Hold for 1 to 2 seconds.
  • Slowly lower your hips back to the ground.
  • Complete the set on one side before repeating on the other leg. (http://www.coreperformance.com/knowledge/movements/glute-bridge-1-eg-trx.html)

Conclusion for the benefits of glute bridges

Here is a video for barbell glute bridges:

If, after reading this article, you are convinced that glute bridges are one exercise you must add to your routine. Then you might be wondering when you should add them?

A great place to add glute bridges is at the end of your abs routine.

Don’t forget that for added comfort on your workout … you need

The Dark Iron Fitness Extra-Thick Barbell Neck Pad

Performing glute bridges at that point will help relieve the tension in your lower back. It tends to accumulate from doing crunches or sit-ups, or other ab exercises that are done with your back to the floor.

It’s a release for the lower back after focusing on the core. It’s beneficial for you to bend the spine in the opposite direction it was just in.

This will give your body the stretching it really needs. As well as a great release for all the tension that built up from the work you did on the front.

Source: https://www.fitnessgurls.com/health-fitness/why-the-glute-bridge-is-great-for-after-an-abs-workout/

We are hoping that you get some valuable information about the benefits of glute bridges.

Stay tuned for more.

Glute Bridge Exercise: 7 Simple Variations to See and Feel Better Results

by: Yuri Elkaim

What exercise comes to mind when you think about building a better backside?

If you thought squats, you’re not alone. And while the squat offers lots of benefits – including tightening up those glutes – there’s another exercise that belongs in any glute-sculpting repertoire.

It’s the glute bridge.

The bridge is a winner when it comes to targeting our entire backside and core. In fact, it’s one of the best exercises to strengthen the gluteus medius muscles – one of the three glute muscles responsible for giving us that ever-coveted lift (1).

It also does a lot more than just tighten your glutes. It strengthens your core, helps build power, and can make you stronger in other exercises, too. I’m guessing it’ll become a go-to on your list of regular exercises.

Glute Bridge Exercise Benefits

1. Improves Posture

When you spend a lot of your day sitting, your glute muscles can loosen – or get weaker – while the hip flexors in the front of your thighs can shorten, making them tight.

Over time, this can cause you to slouch, as your tight hip flexors pull you forward and your weak glutes aren’t strong enough to pull you back upright.

But when you target the glutes and the lower back muscles during the glute bridge, the muscles that are responsible for holding your body upright get stronger.

2. Helps Lessen Low Back Pain

Sitting so much at work has made low back pain a common problem.

As I mentioned earlier, poor posture leads weak glute and core muscles. When this happens, our body compensates by using the low back and quadriceps for most of our daily activities, which can lead to strain on the lower back – and even more muscle imbalances.

Again, the glute bridge comes to the rescue.

By activating our entire posterior chain (the back of our body), the glute bridge exercise helps build a strong muscular support system for our spine and lower back, protecting it against strain, pain, and injuries (2).

3. Improves Performance

Strong glutes and a tight core keep our spine in alignment, add power to our movements, and propel us forward – all important factors when it comes to athletic performance.

Not only that, but studies have shown that correcting muscle deficiencies in the hips and glute area can help lessen leg and knee pain in runners.

4. Strengthens Your Core

Even though the exercise targets the butt, the glute bridge activates your core stabilizer muscles.

These muscles – the transversus abdominis and multifidus – wrap around your entire midsection. Their function is to support the spine and, when strengthened, pull in the stomach like a corset.

Mastering the Glute Bridge Exercise

Another great thing about the glute bridge is that we’re not limited to just the standard version. There are several ways to do it, and tools like bands, weights, and benches can help you get even more out of your bridge.

But first, before we get too fancy, let’s start with the conventional glute bridge.

Basic Glute Bridge Exercise

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Tighten your glutes and lift your hips off the floor.
  3. At the highest position, there should be a straight line from your knees all the way to your shoulders. Hold the contraction for five seconds before returning to the starting position.

Check out the seven variations below that will take your glute bridge to the next level.

1. Single-Leg Bridge

The single-leg bridge is a step up from the traditional bridge.

It can be pretty difficult if you haven’t developed the glute strength required to hold most of your weight on one leg, so if you feel it’s too challenging, try working on your regular bridges before attempting the single-leg version.

This version will not only challenge the glutes, but also the stabilizer muscles in the hips and core, which work to support nearly every movement we perform.

Performing the Single-Leg Bridge

  1. Begin lying face up on the floor, legs bent at a 90-degree angle to the floor.
  2. Push up into a standard bridge, then raise one leg off the floor. You can either keep it parallel to the floor or lift it straight into the air.
  3. Slowly lower until you’re almost toughing the floor, then thrust your hips back up, keeping your leg extended, weight in your heels. Pause for a count at the top.
  4. Repeat on both legs for 10 to 15 reps.

2. Banded Glute Bridge

The banded glute bridge adds extra resistance by using a yoga band around your hips for a heightened glute burn.

Performing the Banded Glute Bridge

  1. Begin by wrapping one end of a yoga band around the bottom of your heels, planting them firmly on the ground to hold the band in place.
  2. Bring the other end of the band up and around your knees so that it’s resting around your mid-thigh area.
  3. Lie flat on the floor and press up into a bridge through your heels, feeling the extra resistance the band offers at the top of the movement.
  4. Lower and return to your starting position.
  5. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps.

3. Weighted Bridge

The weighted bridge is amazing for targeting the glutes and building strength, which will take all of your bridge variations to the next level.

For this variation you will need a barbell to place across your hips.

Performing the Weighted Bridge

  1. Begin lying on the floor with a barbell (use just the bar if you’re a beginner) across your hips.
  2. Grasping the bar with both hands, hold it in place as your trust your hips upward through your heels.
  3. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, then lower.
  4. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps.

4. Elevated Bridge

This bridge variation is excellent for upping the intensity of the regular bridge by adding some elevation. For this one, you’ll need a bench, a stability ball, or a box to prop your heels on.

Performing the Elevated Bridge

  1. Begin lying on the floor, with your heels propped up on a bench or box.
  2. Keeping your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, drive your glutes skyward through your heels. Be sure to keep your glutes and core tight throughout the movement.
  3. Lower until just off the ground, then repeat for 10 to 15 reps.

5. Single-Leg Elevated Bridge

The single-leg elevated bridge isolates each glute, while also challenging your balance.

Performing the Single-Leg Elevated Bridge

  1. Begin lying on the floor, with your heels propped up on a bench or box.
  2. Lift one leg in the air, keeping the other on the box and bent at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Drive your glutes skyward through your heel. Be sure to keep your glutes and core tight and your leg extended throughout the movement.
  4. Lower until just off the ground, then repeat for 10 to 15 reps on each leg.

6. Barbell Hip Thrusters

Barbell hip thrusters typically involve more weight than most of these bridge variations, so you should make sure you can get through the weighted bridge before moving onto hip thrusters.

For this exercise, make sure you use a bench or box that won’t move as you brace against it. Also, use a weight that’s challenging for you, yet doesn’t compromise your form to the point where you’re using your lower back to compete the thrust.

Another point to keep in mind: avoid hyperextending the low back during this exercise.

Performing Barbell Hip Thrusters

  1. Begin by putting padding around your barbell to prevent it from digging into your hips when you thrust.
  2. Place your upper back on your bench with your barbell across your hips.
  3. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, close to your glutes.
  4. Drive your hips skyward, engaging your core and abs.
  5. Hold for a count then lower to your starting position.
  6. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps.

7. Straight-Leg Bridge

The straight-leg bridge brings the hamstrings into play, engaging your entire backside.

Many use a suspension trainer to do this exercise, but you can get a similar effect using a low bench or even a stability ball.

Performing the Straight-Leg Bridge

  1. Begin lying flat on the ground with your legs extended out in front of you. Your feet will either be suspended in your suspension trainer straps or elevated, resting on your heels on a low bench.
  2. Place your arms on the ground by your sides to brace yourself.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and push your hips skyward through your heels, keeping your legs extended.
  4. Be sure to engage your core to help protect your lower back.
  5. Lower to your starting position and repeat for 8 to 10 reps.

Keep Your Muscles Guessing

The glute bridge has so many variations you’re almost guaranteed to never get bored or plateau in your glute training. Plus, trying new exercises can add a fun new element to your workouts.

Getting creative with your bands and weights adds a whole new dimension to glute isolation and core strengthening – a win-win when it comes to aesthetics and performance.

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Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.

Even just a few years ago, if you’d asked me about the bridge exercise, I would have told you it was some lame exercise reserved mainly for beginners, the injured, or people suffering from lower back pain.

And although as a personal trainer I would include a form of bridging in many of my clients’ programs, it was something I only rarely did myself, and when I did do a bridge or two, it was more as a remembrance of when I did gymnastics as a kid than for any other reason.

I never thought of it as a “serious” exercise and never deliberately included it as a main part of my own or my clients’ training.

But boy, was I wrong. As I’ve gotten more and more into bodyweight and calisthenics training over the years, I’ve realized what an incredible exercise bridges really are.

Common misconceptions about bridges

When most people think of bridges, they think of a short bridge, which is the most common form of the bridge and the one that you’ll most likely see at any basic gym.

But while this form of the bridge is great for those with a weak or injured lower back, it’s fairly non-taxing for anyone who has been working out intensely for a while, so they quickly skip over any other forms of the exercise, thinking it’s too easy for them.

But here’s the thing: half bridges are by no means the most difficult form of the exercise. And if almost anyone, including those who consider themselves to be pretty strong, did try the ultimate bridge—the stand to stand bridge—they’d almost be guaranteed to fall due to lack of strength of flexibility.

It’s time for people to realize that bridges rock. Here’s why:

Why bridges are so awesome

Forget deadlifts and roman chair extensions. If you want one exercise to give you a strong, flexible, injury-proof back, master bridges instead.

Paul Wade, author of Convict Conditioning and calisthenics master, says this of bridges:

“If I had to name the most important strength-building exercise in the world, it would be the bridge. Nothing else even comes close.”

Practicing bridges consistently will:

  • Help get rid of back pain caused by sitting hunched over all day long
  • Bulletproof the spine in preparation for heavy or explosive movements
  • Strengthen your spinal muscles, which can prevent slipped discs
  • Give the entire front of your body an incredible stretch
  • Result in extra endurance in sports and life
  • Work every single muscle in your back—as well as nearly every other muscle in your body

I could go on, but you get the idea.

So now that you know how awesome bridges really are, it’s time you got started doing them.

Here’s a dorky video where I explain how to do different bridge progressions:

Or, if you prefer to read instead of watch, here’s how to get started:

Getting started with bridges

Start wherever your current level is, then work up to the more difficult variations as your strength and flexibility increases. Aim to train bridges 2-3 times a week—but even once a week will make you stronger and more flexible.

Short bridges

Short bridges are great for beginners or people with previous back injuries. They gently work your back, butt, and hamstring muscles and are a great starting place.

How to do them:

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Squeeze your butt and abs and raise your butt and hips as high as you can while still keeping your shoulders on the ground. Hold for one second, then lower down.

Do it: Two sets of 20-25 reps 2-3 times a week.

Straight bridges

Straight bridges are the next progression in the bridge exercise, and will start working your shoulders as well as your back, butt and leg muscles.

How to do them:

Lie on your back with your legs straight. Place your hands on the floor on the outside of your hips, pointing your fingers toward your toes. Push yourself up onto your hands, lifting the hips up and squeezing your butt as you do so. Hold for a second, then lower back down.

Do it: Two sets of 20-25 reps.

Elevated bridges

Elevated bridges are the next step to help you ease into doing full bridges. These really start to work your shoulders as well as your back, butt and leg muscles.

How to do them:

Find a bench or elevated surface that’s about knee height or higher (make sure it’s sturdy) and sit in front of it. Face away from the bench, then place your hands by your head with your fingers pointing toward your feet. Press through your hands and raise your hips, arching your back and straightening your arms. Raise your hips as high as you can, then lower back down.

Do it: Two sets of 15 reps.

Full bridges

Full bridges work nearly every muscle in your body, and will get you a crazy strong and flexible back. Plus, they’re just fun.

How to do them:

Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your hands on the sides of your head, fingers pointing toward your toes. Push your hips up, rounding your back and squeezing your butt, abs and leg muscles as you do so. Push through your shoulders so everything gets a good stretch, and breathe deeply. Hold for one second, then lower back down.

Do it: Two sets of 15 reps.

Bridge walk downs

Bridge walk downs are the first step in the progression toward stand to stand bridges. They can be a little scary at first, but you’ll soon learn to trust yourself enough to know that you won’t fall!

How to do them:

Stand a few feet from a wall with your back facing toward the wall. Lean backward, rounding your back and squeezing your butt until your hands hit the wall. Slowly walk your hands down the wall as far as you can. Your goal should be to reach the ground to get into a full bridge. Once you reach the ground, simply sit down, stand back up and do it again.

Do it: Two sets of 10 reps.

Bridge walk ups

Bridge walk ups are significantly harder than walk downs, so don’t get too discouraged the first time you try them. Walk ups are a necessary step in training for stand to stand bridges.

How to do them:

Stand a few feet from a wall with your back facing toward the wall. Lean backward, rounding your back and squeezing your butt until your hands hit the wall. Slowly walk your hands down the wall until you’re in a full bridge. Use your hands to walk back up the wall, squeezing your butt and pushing your hips slightly forward to get you away from the wall and standing up again. That’s one rep.

Do it: Two sets of 8 reps.

Stand to stand bridges

Stand to stand bridges are the ultimate test of back strength and flexibility. If you can do even one, you’re a total badass. If you can do 10 in a row… you’re amazing.

Why no photo of this one? Because I can’t do them quite yet! But with practice and consistency, I’ll get there.

Now go do some bridges!

I’ll admit it. I’m kind of old-school when it comes to stretching. I know the supposed benefits of stretching are a bit over-hyped: Research suggests stretching before a workout probably doesn’t prevent injury like we were always taught in P.E. class. And as far as post-workout recovery goes, foam rolling is considered a more effective way to prevent muscle soreness.

But I still love a good, static stretch after a workout. And I’d recently heard that bridges could help with everything from preventing knee pain to improving posture, so I figured I’d try adding them into my post-workout cool-down for a few weeks and see if the hype was true.

MORE: 4 Ways To Un-Hunch Your Shoulders And Improve Posture Using A Resistance Band

Of course, before I could start, I had to decide which type of bridge to do. There are two basic options:

  1. Half bridge (“bridge pose”). Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your shoulders on the floor, slowly raise your hips towards the ceiling as far as you can. (If you don’t stretch your back often, this is a good place to start.)
  2. Full bridge (“wheel pose”). Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Bring your hands to your shoulders—palms up, like you’re carrying tiny pizza trays (can you tell I used to teach preschool gymnastics?)—and place them on the floor next to your ears, with your fingertips pointing toward your toes. Lift your hips off the ground, then push up with your shoulders and legs at the same time.

I originally planned to do three full bridges, for 10 to 15 seconds each, after every workout. (Normally I’d ease into a challenge like this, but I’ve been doing yoga and gymnastics for 20 years, so back flexibility is one of my strong suits.) But there were definitely a few times—usually after doing too many shoulder presses at a circuit training class—that my tired jelly-arms just didn’t want to hold me up. When that happened, I subbed in a half bridge instead. Hey, a bridge is a bridge, right? Here’s what happened when I made them a regular part of my post-workout stretch.

(Check out the 2018 Prevention Calendar for 365 days of slimming secrets, health tips, and motivation!)

1. I realized I take my back for granted.
I work my arms, my legs, my abs, and my butt at the gym, but I can’t remember the last time I actively tried to strengthen my back muscles. When I do core moves, let’s be honest: I’m usually focusing squarely on ab exercises. But considering 80% of Americans will deal with back pain at some point, I should probably start paying attention to the other part of my core. (Here are 3 exercises that can strengthen your lower back. Note to self: Time to start adding these in.)

2. My flexibility improved.

I consider myself pretty flexible, but over the past three weeks, I’ve been able to inch my hands and feet closer to each other when I’m upside down and arch my back a bit more. It’s a small difference, but a good reminder that flexibility is a use-it-or-lose-it thing—and as I approach 40, I really shouldn’t slack on stretching. (Zero flexibility? These 12 moves can help with that.)

3. I felt less slouchy.
As a writer, I spend a good part of my days hunched over my computer. It’s not the best health habit, I know, but it turns out back bends are one of the exercises that can work wonders if you sit at a desk all day because they help stabilize your back muscles. And I did find myself sitting up a little straighter at my desk instead of slowly melting into the keyboard.

MORE: 5 Yoga Fixes For Bad Posture

4. My legs felt stronger.
Bridges are one of the best exercises you can do for your butt, and you end up engaging your legs and core, too. Toward the end of the challenge I started to notice exercises that rely on my hamstrings—like squats and running—felt a teensy bit easier.

5. I got six-pack abs.
Okay, so that didn’t happen. But this challenge made me aware that I need to focus on my core a bit more than I have been. And when it comes down to it, bridges are yoga poses—and doing them after my workouts forced me to take a minute or two to relax, breathe, and get a new (upside-down!) perspective on things.

Kara Wahlgren Kara Wahlgren is a New Jersey-based freelance writer specializing in health, entertainment, and personal finance.

2 Glute Bridge Exercise Variations to Target Specific Results

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Ever do an exercise in a group fitness class and wonder, am I even doing this right? You have a good reason to consider your form: Even tiny tweaks can make the biggest difference in both where you feel a move and in what effect it has on your body. (Anyone who’s finally mastered the barre tuck knows this to be true.)

With the glute bridge-which has countless variations, from the single-leg bridge to the band bridge kick-back positioning proves to be über important. Keeping most of your back on the ground versus lifting your back fully off the ground while bridging can transform the exercise from a booty-strengthening move to a front-of-body stretch, notes Shannon McClintock, franchise master trainer for barre3.

Both have their place in a workout. It just depends on what you’re looking to do. Here’s how to master both bridge variations for the best results.

Full Bridge Lift

How to do it: Bend knees and place feet flat on ground. Lift hips up to maximum level, lifting entire back up off ground. Think of extending knees forward toward wall in front of you so you can lengthen hips. Interlace fingers underneath body by rolling up onto shoulder heads to get even more release through front of body and hips. Lift high and hold.

What it does: “This is used for more of a stretch purpose than it is used for an active seat strengthening exercise,” says McClintock. You’ll feel it in your hip flexors as the front of your body releases, she notes.

While a neutral spine-having your shoulders, hips, ankles, and toes all aligned-is key for actively strengthening muscles surrounding your trunk, when your entire back is lifted off of the ground, your spine might go into a slight extension (it bends backward), which is fine for the purpose of a stretch, notes McClintock. That’s also why you won’t get too much glute work with this variation. Because that slight back extension makes it harder to find an active hip extension (which is the backward motion of the leg), it’s also harder to activate your seat muscles here.

Active Bridge Lifts

How to do it: Bend knees and place feet either hip-width apart or slightly wider. Root down into feet, keeping them stacked below knees. Lift hips up. Draw ribs down and in toward mat (if you can see ribs jutting out when you look down, draw upper back further into the mat until they disappear). Shoulder blades remain on mat, relaxing shoulders away from ears. Lower hips down to ground slowly, maintaining control until seat touches floor. Then use seat muscles to lift back up to starting position, making sure upper back stays in contact with the mat as you lift.

What it does: Keeping most of your back on that mat makes this more of a strength move, notes McClintock. “Having the upper part of your back on the mat allows people to stay in a more neutral spine which is not only safer for most people, but will help more easily activate your seat muscles.” Since your ribs are down and your hips are lifted, you’re able to achieve that hip extension needed to fire up your glutes, she notes.

Just remember: If you’re feeling a different muscle than the glutes “burning” (the front of your thighs or the front of your hips, for example) you might need to make a few adjustments-lowering your bootie or moving slower to achieve that hurts-so-good feeling.

How to Do the Pilates Bridge Exercise

By Ellie Herman

The Bridge is an excellent Pilates torso stability exercise. This means that one of your goals is to keep your torso really still during the exercise. This exercise strengthens the butt and the back of the legs and teaches core stability. Physical therapists the world over use the Bridge because it’s a safe exercise for those with a weak or injured back.

The Bridge exercise

Follow these steps to perform the Bridge exercise:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, approximately hip distance apart.

    Your feet should be in a comfortable position — not too close to your butt and not too far away. You should be able to easily find the Neutral Spine. Experiment with different placements of your feet to find the best fit.

  2. Inhale: Take a deep breath in, expanding into your back and your lungs.

  3. Exhale: Keeping your torso in one flat piece, press your feet into the mat and squeeze your butt as you lift your hips up off the mat.

    Come up high enough that your body makes a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Don’t press up so high that you can’t see your knees.

  4. Inhale: Maintain the Bridge position.

  5. Exhale: Still holding the bridge, think of knitting your ribs down to your belly, squeeze your butt, and try to lengthen through the front of your hips.

  6. Inhale: Hold the Bridge position.

  7. Exhale: Maintain Neutral Spine as you come back down to the mat.

    Complete 5 repetitions. Transition by bringing your knees into your chest to relax your back. Put one hand on each knee and slowly roll up to a sitting position.

    Credit: Photograph by David Herman and Jordan Levy The Bridge exercise in Pilates.

The modified Bridge exercise

You also can do a single leg variation of the Bridge exercise as a modification. Follow these steps:

  1. Place your hands on your hip bones so that you can test your hip stability.

  2. Come up to the Bridge position and, on the inhale, lift up one knee toward your chest, keeping your hips perfectly stable.

    Don’t let your hip drop or twist as you lift up your knee.

  3. Place your foot back down on the exhale. Switch sides.

    Complete 8 repetitions, alternating sides.

    Credit: Photograph by David Herman and Jordan Levy Modifying the Bridge exercise in Pilates.

The back bridge, also known as gymnast bridge or hand bridge, is an amazing bodyweight exercise that can’t be replicated in any other way. When it comes to spine and shoulder strength and flexibility combined it just can’t be beat. In this article, I’ll be laying out some of the back bridge progressions that you can get started with, and a number of tips and tricks along the way.

The back bridge has a few similarities but is overall quite distinct from the wrestler’s bridge. Both are worth doing!

Getting Started – Hip Bridge

Depending on where you’re starting out you may be better off starting with the hip bridge than the back bridge. As the name implies, this exercise focuses on the hips.

Lay with your back on the ground and your knees bent so that your feet are flat on the floor, heels close to your butt. Press the feet into the floor to raise the hips up as high as they can go. This is great for dynamic flexibility of the hip flexors and involves the abs and low back too.

How to do a Back Bridge

If you can do the hip bridge no problem then you may be ready for the back bridge. I say may, because in addition to the spine, it takes shoulder and wrist flexibility to pull off. Lack of any one of these can stop you in your tracks.

While there are advanced ways to get into the bridge like falling into it, aka a back bend, the simple starting position is on the ground. It’s the same as the hip bridge before, except that the arms are bent so the hands are flat on the ground next to your head. This picture shows what it should look like. From there you push up into the bridge. One name for this is the “reverse pushups” for obvious reasons.

You’ll notice in the second picture there that the elbows aren’t locked out. When you’re starting out this is very likely to happen to a more or lessor degree. Inability to lock out the arms is due to lack of flexibility. Once again this can be an issue in the spine (and certain areas such as the thoracic more so than lumbar) as well as the shoulders or wrists.

Ideally, you want to be able to push up into a full lockout. Then, holding for time is a good way to progress the back bridge. Shown here is pretty close to an ideal position where the legs and arms are perpendicular to the ground.

One way to make the back bridge a big easier is to raise up on the toes. As this gives you a few more inches of height less flexibility is needed across the rest of the body.

How to Progress withthe Back Bridge

You can do a number of things:

  1. Aim for a better form hold. Increased quality is one form of progression. First up is locking out the arms. Then you can work on moving the arms and legs closer to each other.
  2. Aim for a longer hold. Once you’re in your best bridge position hold for time. In the beginning this may be ten seconds. But with practice you can hold it for a minute or two or even longer.
  3. Aim for reps. You can do this by repping out the reverse pushups.
  4. Go more advanced with harder variations…

Advanced Back Bridge Progressions

There are one arm variations:

There are many dynamic moves that can be done from here such as the back bend, or falling into a bridge.

Or twisting into and out of a bridge on one arm:

For much more information about bridging, including the wrestler’s bridge variations too, check out the Advanced Bridging Course, the most complete bridge training information ever compiled.

You can also find just the bridging book on Amazon here.

Bridging in all its forms is a mostly unknown way to train. There is nothing like it as far as the benefits it can deliver. For these reasons bridging deserves your respect and your dedication in training.

Bridge

How to do the Short Bridge Exercise

Please note that full bridges are not suitable for beginners and the instructions below are for the Short Bridge, which is the most common starting point for most beginners. See the Bridge Progression Exercises for the development path up to a full bridge.

  1. Lie on your back with hands by your side, knees bent and feet flat on the floor (under the knees)
  2. Press your feet into the floor as you tighten your butt and abs, and lift your hips up to create a straight line from knees to shoulders
  3. Hold the position in good form (tense the core, trying to pull your bell button back toward the spine) aiming for 20-30 seconds
  4. Lower yourself back down to the floor

Bridge Notes:

  • If your hips begin to sag or drop, lower yourself back to floor

Bridge Exercise Guide

The bridge is an excellent core body stability exercise and is effective for isolating and strengthening the gluteus (butt) and hamstrings (back of the upper leg). It’s a popular rehabilitation exercise used to improve core and spinal stabilization.

This often overlooked exercise has a huge number of physical benefits;

  1. Develop every muscle in the back and strengthen the spinal muscles
  2. Condition the spine in preparation for heavy and explosive movements
  3. Stretches out the whole body
  4. Can improve posture and reduce back pain

Bridge Progression Exercises

The steps below outline a progression path towards developing your full bridge position. You should start wherever your current level is and then work up to the more difficult variations as your strength and flexibility increases.

Aim to train for the bridge 2-3 times per week but even just inserting the exercise into your routine once a week is beneficial.

Step 1. Short Bridges

An excellent starting exercise for beginners looking to learn the full bridge or for people with previous back injuries. Short Bridges will gently work the back, butt, and hamstring muscles.

Instructions: See above

Frequency: Two sets x 20-25 reps 2-3 times per week

Step 2. Straight Bridges

Straight bridges will further develop the shoulder, back, butt and leg muscles on the way to building your full bridge. The key difference between this position and the short bridge is that the arms are supporting the body from the ground and the legs are extended straight out.

Instructions:

  1. Lie on your back with legs straight
  2. Place hands on the floor outside of your hips
  3. Push up onto your hands, lifting the hips from the floor and squeezing the legs
  4. Hold the position for a second before lowering back down

Frequency: Two sets x 20-25 reps 2-3 times per week

Step 3. Elevated Bridges

Elevated bridges raise the hands from the ground and reduce the severity of the bridge angle to make it easier to hold.

Instructions:

  1. Find a bench or elevated platform that’s around knee height or higher and sit in front of it
  2. Whilst facing away from the platform place the hands behind the head and gripping onto the edge
  3. Press the body up into the bridge position, arching the back, raising the hips and straightening the arms.
  4. Hold the position before lowering back down

Frequency: Two sets x 15 reps, 2-3 times per week

Step 3. Full Bridges

You’ve made it! Here’s our guide to the full bridge;

Instructions:

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and hands by the sides of the head
  2. Push up at the hands and feet, raising the hips, arching the back, and squeezing the core and leg muscles
  3. Hold the position before lowering back down

Frequency: Two sets x 15 reps, 2-3 times per week

Advanced Bridges

if you’ve now mastered the bridge exercise here are some advanced variations that you can consider;

  • One-legged Bridge
  • Bridge Walk Downs – Involves walking the hands the wall and into a full bridge
  • Bridge Walk Ups – Involves performing the Bridge Walk Down and then walking the hands back up the wall to the starting position

Are You Bridging Wrong?

Last Updated on December 13, 2019

Glute bridges are a basic bodyweight move.

People will even say, “These are easy!” And think they are beyond that basic bodyweight exercise.

But guess what!?

All too often people aren’t doing them correctly! AND even the most advanced exerciser needs to return to that FUNDAMENTAL move.

Let me ask you a few quick questions too…

  • Have ever felt your low back during glute bridges?
  • Or maybe your hamstrings are doing all the work?
  • Or maybe your quads are working?
  • Heck…maybe you even feel your traps and shoulders!

Answer yes to one of these?…Or maybe all of these, huh?

Well it’s called the GLUTE BRIDGE for a reason…Not because these other muscles should be working, but because your GLUTES should be powering the move.

So if you’re feeling these other muscles engaging and taking over for your glutes, you not only aren’t reaping the benefits of the glute bridge, so may need to change your form, but you’ve also got some compensations you may need to address that could lead to injury!

And if you’re now thinking…”Well I just really don’t feel anything. And I don’t feel my glutes at all so I probably just need to do something HARDER…”

You’re also wrong.

Yes, as we advance, we want to add weights and harder variations to keep challenging our muscles so we get results.

BUT…No matter how advanced you are, heck actually even the MORE advanced an exerciser you are, the MORE you should be able to contract your glutes during a basic bodyweight bridge.

Now note I didn’t say it should necessarily be “hard” to do as an advanced exerciser, but you should be able to contract your glutes to create a burn even with just your own bodyweight no matter how much you lift.

Because it all comes down to the mind-body connection.

If you can’t recruit the muscles correctly with your own bodyweight, there is a good chance you won’t recruit the right muscles as you add more and more load or try harder and harder variations.

And if you aren’t using the right muscles?

Well that is when you risk overloading muscles that can’t handle the load, which can lead to INJURY.

That is why I wanted to share a few quick tips and coaching cues hat I use with my clients so they can get those glutes activated and firing.

Because the basic glute bridge is a must-do activation move. It can help activate the glutes and improve your hip extension so you can run faster and lift more.

BUT it must be done correctly so your glutes actually engage!

So if you’re not feeling those glutes working, try these 4 tips to improve your bridging.

Bridging Tip #1: Mind Your Set Up!

Many people when they go to bridge up just lie on their back and lift their butt off the ground. They pay no attention to foot positioning or what muscles they are using to drive up.

But by paying attention to how you are driving up and the positioning of your feet, you can make sure your glutes are working and other muscles, like your hamstrings, aren’t compensating.

A great way to start to set up is to lie on your back and place your feet flat on the ground just beyond your fingertips when your arms are straight down by your sides. If your feet get too far away from your butt, you are more likely to use your hamstrings.

You also want to make sure your feet are flat on the ground. You’ll sometimes see images of people up on their toes during bridges, but talk about a way to make it more challenging to engage your glutes. Actually, if you struggle to engage your glutes, think about driving more through your HEELS as you bridge up.

Then, once you have this positioning, bend your elbows and drive them into the ground. You want to think about driving your elbows down into the ground and then even drive through your upper back as you bridge up. This will help prevent you from feeling bridges in your upper traps and neck. It can also help you make sure your glutes are working and you aren’t again making your hamstrings the prime movers.

And then when you bridge up, driving your heels and upper back into the ground, think about driving your knees forward over your toes.

Don’t lift your heels to try and do this. Or adjust your feet in closer (adjusting your feet in closer may actually make you start to feel the bridge in your quads if your hips are tight). Your knees will not actually go over your toes!

The point is by thinking about driving your knees toward your toes, you won’t drive yourself backward onto your shoulders. You will also make sure to evenly drive through your upper back. This will help focus on the glutes and make sure your hamstrings and traps don’t get overloaded.

Then make sure your feet are even and about hip-width apart. You don’t want your knees falling open or caving in. You CAN do a close-stance glute bridge or a wide-stance glute bridge but you need to still make sure your ankles, knees and hips are in the proper alignment. If they aren’t in alignment, you are going to perpetuate poor movement patterns.

This proper set up can also help you unlock tight hips by forcing your glutes to create hip extension as you bridge up. It will also prevent your quads from taking over, which if they do start trying to work, won’t help you open up tight hip flexors.

Part of this set up also needs to be learning to engage your abs, which can be done using a posterior pelvic tilt!

Bridging Tip #2: Tilt It Up Aka Stop Trying To Use Your Back To Get Up Higher!

One of the things that happens most often is that, in an attempt to bridge up HIGHER, people arch and use their lower back. And then they just push and ignore the fact that all they feel is their lower back.

Why does this happen? Why aren’t your glutes firing like they should be and you are instead loading your low back?

Because when we are focused on simply bridging up higher to replicate a movement, instead of focusing more on the muscles that should be working, our bodies recruit whatever muscles are easily available to meet our demands.

We will demand mobility out of an area that really shouldn’t be providing that mobility. And we will overuse muscles that aren’t meant to handle the load. Because our body takes the path of least resistance to do the movements that we ask of it.

And this process of compensation often happens because our hips are tight and our glutes, and even our abs, are underactive.

That is why it is key to do bridges correctly so you can improve your hip extension AND activate your glutes and abs. And the key to doing this is the posterior pelvic tilt!

By using the posterior pelvic tilt, you can engage your abs, prevent hyperextension of your lumbar spine AND get your glutes to power the bridge and hip extension.

To do the posterior pelvic tilt, set up at the bottom of the bridge with your feet flat on the ground and elbows driving down into the ground too.

Feel the space between your low back and the ground? Push that space away so you are tilting your hips and pressing your low back into the ground.

You may feel too like you are drawing your abs in toward your spine.

Keeping the core engaged like this, bridge up. Squeeze your butt and pause. Do not worry about how high you go. Just squeeze the butt as you keep your abs engaged in this way. Then lower down.

You may notice at the top you start to lose the tilt as you just try to drive up higher. This means you are trying to again arch your lower back instead of just extending your hips.

It is key with all of these tips, and with all exercises for that matter, that not only do you pay attention to form, BUT you THINK about the muscles that are working so you can realize if you lose the posterior pelvic tilt and stop using your glutes.

Lower back down and repeat. If you need, reset that posterior pelvic tilt each time. But focus on maintaining that so you CAN’T arch your low back and can only bridge as high as you glutes, and hips for that matter, allow!

Bridging Tip #3: THINK About The Muscles That Should Be Working

As I mentioned above, you have to THINK about the muscles working. Part of contracting your muscles and feeling them work is about establishing the mind-body connection so your mind can more efficiently and effectively recruit the right muscles for the job.

And basic bodyweight activation moves like the bridge are the easiest way to improve your mind-body connection so things work correctly during more compound lifts.

Think about how many times you’ve just gone through the motions of a workout? Or pushed through even when you sort of know the wrong muscle, aka your low back, is working.

You just figure, “Hey gotta get through the workout!”

The problem is…That attitude can lead to injury. AND it can also mean that all these workouts you’re spending “working your glutes” are actually going to waste.

Cause guess what!?!

Your glutes aren’t working!

So during these moves THINK about your glutes driving the movement. That way you can adjust if they aren’t. And by focusing on your glutes working, you can contract them even harder as you pause at the top of the bridge.

Heck…it can even be fun to see how much shakeage you can create by mentally trying to contract harder!

Bridging Tip #4: What If I STILL Don’t Feel My Glutes?!

There is a chance that you will still struggle, even after trying to tweak your form, with activating your glutes. Heck maybe even just one side doesn’t seem to want to engage!

This is where some mobility work, some Foam Rolling and Dynamic Stretching may need to come into play first to loosen those tight muscles so your glutes can engage properly.

Using rolling first can help you relax tight and overexcited muscles, muscles your mind may want to usually recruit first.

Roll your hamstrings (often for people rolling right under the glute helps).

Roll your hips to help loosen tight hips before you bridge. Heck, roll your quads!

Start there. Then do even a dynamic stretch or two, like the Half-Kneeling Hip And Quad Stretch, to start to open up your hips.

THEN try the glute bridge.

Often rolling, stretching THEN activating can help us FEEL the glutes working when they should be!

That process will allow us to restore muscles to their proper length tension relationships so we can get the right muscles working…AKA our GLUTES!

But what if it is only one side?

Well the focus on that tight side and even try some unilateral activation before.

Try a Fire Hydrant or Donkey Kick. Another basic bodyweight moves to focus on that side that isn’t firing.

THEN return to the bilateral move once you’ve established the mind-body connection! (I mention the Fire Hydrant too because sometimes activating the glute medius helps the glute maximus fire better even during moves like the Glute Bridge!)

But NEVER underestimate the importance of the Basic Bodyweight Glute Bridge. And don’t ignore the importance of those other silly looking basic activation moves for your glutes either!

Those moves are what help you prevent injury and get the right muscles working.

These silly, BASIC moves are so important it’s why I created a 28-Day Booty Burner to help my clients get their glutes working the way they should be!

Learn More About Glute Activation And Unlocking Tight Hips –>

Building a larger butt has definitely become a trend in the fitness community. As a trainer, I have to say that I’m not opposed to it at all. Yes, it has a lot to do with vanity, but at the end of the day, consistently doing lower-body strength exercises primarily focusing on the gluteal muscles will strengthen and activate those muscles. This is important for a few reasons: having active glutes (when the muscles are firing properly) will allow you to improve your athletic performance (running, jumping, etc.), it will prevent dormant butt syndrome (your hip flexors tighten and you may experience back and knee pain), and your butt will look amazing.

One of the most popular glute-activating exercises is the barbell hip thrust. All you have to do is scroll through Instagram and you’ll see your favorite influencers, celebrities, and even your friends doing this move. I think it’s a great exercise to incorporate into your routine to improve your overall lower-body strength and to enhance your assets, but I don’t advise it for beginners since it’s an advanced lift.

Instead, I recommend starting with the weighted glute bridge. This will allow you to get comfortable with the movement pattern before progressing to the barbell hip thrust. Curious about how to do it? Continue reading for all the details.

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Weighted Glute Bridge

  • Grab a medium to heavy dumbbell; 20 pounds is a great starting point. You can also do this exercise using just your bodyweight.
  • On your mat, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Be sure and keep your feet underneath your knees, not in front. Place the dumbbell on top of your lower abdominals (below your belly button and above your hip bones). Hold the dumbbell in place with both hands to prevent it from moving.
  • Raise your hips up to the ceiling, tensing your abs and squeezing your butt as you do. You should be making a long diagonal line with your body, from shoulders to knees.
  • Hold for three seconds making sure your spine doesn’t round and your hips don’t sag. Keep your abs and butt muscles engaged.
  • Lower down to the ground; this is considered one rep.
  • Complete three sets of 12 reps.
  • Begin to implement this exercise into your routine two to three times a week. Once you’re comfortable with this movement pattern, advance to the barbell hip thrust.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

How to do bridges

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