One of the best ways to strengthen the largest muscle in your body is by doing the glute bridge exercise and progressing through the variations. In this article, we will define the best way to perform the glute bridge with proper form as well as lead you through multiple variations.
The classic glute bridge is commonly used to wake up the gluteus maximus muscle, which has a tendency to get weaker with sedentary lifestyles. That’s why, people who sit for a long time at work then go home and sit on a couch need to master the glute bridge.
If you do happen to sit for a living, you might want to also check out this article I wrote especially for those with a desk job. How To Set Up An Ergonomically Friendly Work Space.
Next, once you are able to properly engage your glutes you will need to layer in the variations we will review down below to further challenge your muscles and achieve the best results possible.
The classic glute bridge doesn’t require much equipment, however their are a few items that would be beneficial to use for the workout progressions.
- Exercise mat
- Stability Ball
- Workout Bench
- Resistance Band
The Classic Glute Bridge Exercise – How To Do It
First, we will want to achieve is a fundamental understanding of how to perform a proper glute bridge and avoid any common pitfalls.
- Begin the glute bridge exercise by lying on your back, on an exercise mat, with your knees bent.
- Avoid using a thick pillow that may cause your neck to be in an overly flexed position when you do the bridge.
- Keep your feet approximately shoulder width apart.
- Engage your core muscles by gently drawing your belly button down and in towards your spine.
- Engage your glutes by squeezing your bum muscles.
- Raise your hips and pelvis off the ground, while keeping your feet, shoulders and neck relaxed and in contact with the ground.
- Hold the bridge at the top for roughly 3 to 5 seconds, then slowly lower your hips back down.
Check out this video of the Glute Bridge Exercise by the Mayo Clinic.
Glute Bridge Variations
Progressions to make it harder
There are many ways to challenge yourself and make the glute bridge harder. The first adjustment to be aware of is surface contact for support.
The fewer body parts are in contact with the ground, the harder the glute bridge exercise will be.
The classic glute bridge exercise will have you lying on the ground with your head, neck, upper back, arms, and feet in contact with the ground the entire time. As you progress try the following steps to make it harder.
- Place your hands on your belly button, removing your forearms from the ground. Your elbows will still be available to provide support on the ground.
- Cross your arms on your chest, removing your arms from the ground.
- Reach toward the ceiling while placing your hands together. This will pull the backs of your shoulders off the ground.
These arm position variations can be used to gradually challenge other equipment related progression as well.
Single Leg Glute Bridge
There are two ways the single leg glute bridge can be done. Let’s start with the easier version.
First, begin with doing the classic or standard glute bridge by raising your hips up. Once you are in the bridge position, try extending one leg out in front of you eliminating another point of contact. Next, return to the original bridge position then attempt the opposite leg’s extension.
It is important to watch your pelvis position while either leg is being extended. You want to make sure that both sides stay level to the ground. Typically, the pelvis opposite to the weaker side will drift lower during the this exercise. Your goal is to keep both sides at the same height.
The second and more challenging way to do the single leg glute bridge is to extend your leg first, then lift your hips up the whole distance on one leg. You should still monitor the height of both the left and right side of the pelvis.
Try progressing through the different arm positions previously mentioned.
Glute Bridge with Band
You can layer in a stronger focus on Gluteus Maximus’ little brother, Gluteus Medius by attaching a resistance band around your thighs. This will also strengthen your abductor muscles that form the outer portion of your hips.
As you raise your hips up to the bridge position, gently pull your knees slightly apart to add tension to the band.
The arm position variants and single leg progression can be done with the resistance band as well.
Stability Ball Bridge
The stability ball bridge variation will eliminate the support you would have from having your feet on the ground. We are adding an unstable surface to rest your feet on to challenge your muscles more.
To perform the ball bridge, begin with both feet on the ball while you are lying on your back. Engage your core and glutes prior to lifting your hips off the ground. You will now have to mindful that the stability ball will try to make you sway from side to side. Your job is to keep the ball in the middle.
Stability Ball Bridge and Curl
Similarly to the stability ball bridge, you will have both feet on the ball as your raise your hips. The difference is that when you are in the elevated bridge position, you will then try to roll the ball in towards your bum by bending your knees.
The addition of the curl component will target your hamstrings and lower abdominal muscles.
Glute Bridge Pulse
The glute bridge pulse is a variant that will add some endurance training to your workout. With this exercise, you start off by doing the standard glute bridge. One your way back down, stop half way, and then go back up into the bridge position.
Keep repeating this pulsing up and down at a repetition each 2 seconds for 30 seconds. You should definitely feel a good burn.
Barbell Glute Bridge
The Barbell Glute Bridge is another great exercise recommended by Men’s Health. This variant is challenging due to the added weight resistance. For this exercise, you will start of by lying on your back with your knees bent similarly to the standard glute bridge. The difference is you will also need to place a barbell over your pelvis and raise your hips with the added weight.
Be sure to add a foam padding or towel around the bar to make this much more comfortable.
Dosage and Parameters
You should try to do 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions of each glute bridge variation before progressing to a harder one. Allow for about 30 seconds to one minute rest between each set. For the glute pulsing exercise, go for 3 rounds of 30 seconds with a similar rest period.
You should not feel any pain while doing any of these exercises. If you do, stop and follow up with your physiotherapist or health care practitioner to help guide you.
Post Workout Stretching
It isn’t uncommon to feel some more general muscle soreness the following day or two as a result of the strengthening process. This is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). A proper stretching routine can help limit this discomfort. Check out this article to help ensure you are getting the maximum benefit from your stretching. 5 Quick Tips For A Better Stretching Routine.
Here are a couple great stretches that will focus on your fanny.
Knee To Chest Stretch
- Start by lying on your back.
- Place two hands behind one knee and pull it close to your chest.
- Make sure the other leg stays flat on the ground.
- Hold your posterior in this position for 3 rounds of 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
Seated Figure 4 Stretch
- Start of this stretch by sitting on a firm chair.
- Cross your leg so that your ankle is resting on the opposite knee.
- Lean forward and slide both hands down the leg that is planted on the ground.
- Hold this stretch for 3 rounds of 30 seconds.
Here are a few things you need to be aware of to make sure you are using proper form and getting the most out of your glute workout.
- Avoid holding your breath while bridging. Oxygen is very important for your muscle function. Remember to “exhale on exertion”.
- Don’t place a thick pillow under your head, which may cause you to over flex your neck when you bridge.
- Keep your knees the same distance apart, roughly shoulder width, when you are bridging.
- Keep your feet planted, parallel to each other, and facing forward during the entire exercise.
Benefits of Glute Strengthening
Aesthetics aside, all of these exercises will help you strengthen this large and very important muscle, gluteus maximus. They will help reverse the negative impact of prolonged sitting and a sedentary lifestyle. Most importantly, strong glutes will reduce the likelihood of back and leg related injuries.
Some other great exercises to help build a better bum include:
- Dead lifts
- Single Leg Dead lifts
- Hip Thrusts
- Glute Kickbacks
- Fire Hydrants
- and so many more…
Leave a message in the comments recommending the next glute exercise review. This muscle should definitely not be neglected.
OK, that’s enough reading. Get off your butt and start working it.
I definitely have a week side on the one leg bridge. How do I stop the opposite hip from sinking?
Strengthening your gluteus medius will help. Try clamshells if the single leg glute bridge is difficult.