I know, I know, I know—you’re probably thinking, “Glute bridges? I know how to do glute bridges. What’s so hard about glute bridges? Boooooring! What else you got?”
Hear me out. A glute bridge is a simple, yet versatile exercise that helps you activate and strengthen your glutes, teaches you to extend your hips while maintaining a neutral spine and braced core, and lays the foundation for you to progress to bigger and better booty-building exercises.
Glute bridges also help strengthen the mind-muscle connection for a lot of women. If your pelvis is tilted anteriorly, your glutes (and hamstrings) are in a lengthened position, and you probably don’t use them the way you should. Performing a glute bridge properly helps you get a sense for how it feels to use your glutes effectively during a simple movement, so you can start practicing when performing more complex movements.
How To Perform A Basic Bodyweight Glute Bridge
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your spine in a neutral position. It is very important that your spine is neutral when you lie down. You may find it easier to maintain a neutral neck by placing a bit of support under your head. Bend your knees and place your feet hip-width apart. Make sure your feet are firmly placed on the floor, as you will be driving through your heels.
Exhale fully to properly position and brace your core. This is a technique we use with many of our exercises at Girls Gone Strong. It ensures that you’re in the proper position to brace your core and extended your hips, instead of extending your lumbar spine. To do this: take a deep breath in through your nose, and exhale fully through your mouth while drive your rib cage down toward your pelvis and brace your core.
Drive your feet into the ground and extend your hips by squeezing your glutes. Lift your hips until your body is in a straight line from your knees, to your hips, to your shoulders. Hold for a second or two at the top, squeezing your glutes hard.
Reverse the motion to come down smoothly. Do not drop down fast, or let your hips drown before your core. Your body should move in one fluid motion.
Remember, you want your whole body to move as a unit, with your core braced, your spine neutral, and your glutes doing the work.
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Once you’ve mastered the basic glute bridge, there are several variations of this exercise you can do to make it more challenging.
Band-Resisted Glute Bridge
This variation is great because it gives a little bit of tension as you drive your knees out slightly, and helps you really feel your glutes as you squeeze.
Place the band around both knees and get into the starting position.
Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth, and driving your rib cage down to brace your core.
Lift your hips up, while simultaneously driving your knees out against the band and squeezing your glutes as hard as you can.
Hold a second or two, then lower your hips back down in one smooth motion.
Single-Leg Glute Bridge
Don’t be deceived! These can be pretty tough, so we advice you to perform them with one knee pulled to your chest, at least until you’ve mastered the movement. This will help you avoid hyperextending your lower back.
Start lying on your back, spine neutral, and feet flat on the floor approximately 4-6 inches apart.
Pull one knee to your chest and hold it there with one or both arms.
Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth and drive your ribcage down to brace your core. Drive your foot into the ground and squeeze your glutes to extend your hips. Try to keep your pelvis square and lift your whole pelvis evenly. If you’re struggling with that, simply make the move smaller and master it progressively.
Hold a second or two squeezing your glutes hard, then lower your hips smoothly as one unit, and don’t allow your pelvis to twist or rotate.
Tip: If you feel your hamstring start to cramp or dominate the movement, move your feet closer to your body.
Feet-Elevated Glute Bridge
If you’re ready to step things up a notch, but aren’t quite ready for the Back-Elevated Glute Bridge (aka the Hip Thrust), you can try the Feet-Elevated Glute Bridge instead. The Feet-Elevated Glute Bridge increases the range of motion and thus the time under tension and amount of work your glutes are doing, so it’s more challenging than a regular glute bridge, but not as challenging as a Hip Thrust.
Lie on the floor in the starting position with your knees bent, and instead of placing your feet on the floor, place them on the bench. You can either put your heels on the bench or your feet against the bench, whichever is most comfortable for you and helps you feel your glutes working!
Take a big breath in through your nose, and exhale fully, driving your ribcage down while bracing your core.
Drive your feet through the floor, squeezing your glutes to extend your hips fully, creating that nice, straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold for a second or two, squeezing your glutes hard.
Reverse the motion to lower your body down smoothly as a unit. No dropping your hips or hyperextending your spine.
How To Incorporate The Glute Bridge Into Your Training
If you’re new to strength training, the glute bridge and its variations can be used as the hip-dominant lower body exercise in your training program. For example, your workout might look something like this:
A1. Bodyweight Box Squat – 3 x 8-10
A2. Walk Out – 3 x 6-10
B1. Glute Bridge – 3 x 8-10
B2. Band Pull-Apart – 3 x 8-10
B3. Suitcase Carry – 3 x 10 yards
Intermediate and Advanced:
If you’re an intermediate or advanced lifter, you have more options with the glute bridge, including, but not limited to:
Perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 during your warm-up to help “activate” your glutes.
Perform a light set of 8-12 in between sets of upper body exercises as a way to get in extra glute work without affecting your upper body training.
Perform a light set of 8-12 in between sets of lower body exercises as a way to recruit your glutes more effectively during your lower body exercises.
Perform 1-3 high volume sets (20-50 reps) at the end of your workout as a finisher to get a great glute pump and help stimulate hypertrophy and growth.
If you’re curious exactly how to incorporate each glute bridge variation into your training program safely and effectively, let us help! We’re experts at helping women achieve the results they want while following a sane, sustainable, and fun program.
A message from GGS…
At Girls Gone Strong, we want you to feel confident knowing that what you’re doing to look good, feel good, and feel healthy and strong is not only based on tested, reliable, and safe information from trustworthy sources, but also that it is effective and efficient.
That’s why we developed our flagship training system, The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training.
We’ve cut through all that noise and the BS with a sane, sustainable, and efficient approach that will help you achieve maximum results, whether you’re brand new to strength training, or a veteran in the weight room.
With four different 16-week programs—that’s 64 weeks of training—you get over a year’s worth of workouts, including progressions to ensure that you continue making progress. You’ll also get a training manual, exercise glossary, progress tracker, a bonus conditioning manual, plus a video library with over 70 high-definition videos breaking down each exercise, step by step.
We believe fitness should enhance your life instead of become your life. If you exercise in a way that you actually enjoy, staying fit and strong won’t ever feel like a drag. You’ll look forward to it for years to come.
If you want an entire training system that will help you look and feel your best, The Modern Woman's Guide to Strength Training is for you!
Molly Galbraith, CSCS is co-founder and owner of Girls Gone Strong, a global movement that aims to empower women to embrace all that's possible for their lives and for their bodies through body-positive, evidence-based, nutrition, training, and self-care information. She is also the author of The Modern Woman's Guide to Strength Training.
As a former figure competitor who dabbled in powerlifting, Molly understands the more extreme side of training and nutrition, and after years of personal struggle with her own body image and self-worth, Molly is committed to helping women embrace their bodies and fall in love with themselves, and teaching other coaches and trainers how to better understand, connect with, and serve their women clients. Learn more about Molly on her website and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.