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GGS TV Injury Prevention

Glute Bridge

How To Do A Bodyweight Glute Bridge + Variations

Glute Bridge Exercise

The glute bridge exercise is phenomenal for improving the strength and development of the glutes, and for the overall function and health of the entire body. Strong glutes matter!!

Equipment needed:

You do not need any equipment to do this bodyweight exercise.

Ability level:

Beginner

Beginners should start out with bodyweight glute bridges.

Intermediate

Intermediate lifters can add additional resistance in the form of bands or chains, or can opt for the single leg variation. If you’re doing a lower body workout, you can use the glute bridge as a warm-up to prepare your body for the compound movements, or you can perform the glute bridge after a squatting, lunging, or hinging exercise as part of a lower body superset. If you’re doing a full-body workout, you can pair the glute bridge with an upper body pushing or pulling exercise. You can also use it at the end of the workout, as a glute finisher. Intermediate lifters might perform 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps of the glute bridge, or can do up to 25 reps if the exercise is being used to really work the glutes hard at the end of the workout.

Advanced

Women who are comfortable with the glute bridge may choose to perform barbell glute bridges. You can also make the exercise more challenging by doing a glute bridge hold and pausing for a longer time at the top of the lift and really challenging the glutes concentrically, or performing negatives and lowering in 3-5 seconds, really challenging the glutes eccentrically. You can also perform any of the above options while using a single leg.

Benefits of Glute Bridges:

How a woman chooses to use a glute bridge is highly dependent on her overall technical ability and experience, how much resistance is being used, the set/rep scheme used, where it falls in the workout, what it’s paired with, and what the rest periods are.  In general, glute bridges can be used to do any or all of the following:

  • increasing glute strength
  • building muscle
  • improving aesthetics of the glutes (higher, rounder, firmer)
  • increasing speed and power by teaching optimal hip extension, which will be beneficial to running, jumping, and other sports specific movements
  • improved full body function and health as strong glutes positively impact the alignment and mechanics of the spine, pelvis, femurs, knees, ankles and feet
  • increasing performance in the weight room
  • increasing athleticism and sports specific performance
  • fat loss (if your diet and exercise routines are conducive to fat loss)

How to perform a Glute Bridge:

  • Lie on a mat, and position your body so it is facing straight ahead. Your feet should be hip to shoulder width apart and your feet can be angled out a bit if this is more comfortable.
  • You can place a small yoga block or pad under your head if this is more comfortable.
  • Keep your shins relatively vertical or else your hamstrings will take over.
  • Before you start, take a deep breath into your belly (360 degrees of air around the spine) and brace your core (imagine blocking a soccer ball with your stomach).
  • Initiate the glute bridge and pick up your hips by driving through the heel and mid-foot and squeezing your glutes. Do NOT arch your lower back. This is extremely important.
  • At the top position, hold for a count or more as this will really utilize the glutes. It is imperative that you lock out by squeezing your glutes, not by arching your lower back.
  • During the lowering phase, control the movement with your glutes.
  • For the duration of the exercise, it’s important to keep your rib cage tucked toward your hips (closing the space in your midsection) and keep your core braced. Do not allow your rib cage to lift or lower back to arch.
  • Make sure that your weight remains on the heel and mid-foot but keep your toes down, particularly your big and baby toe. This will dramatically improve your stability, and ability to perform this exercise.
  • Do not allow your knees to collapse in or fall outside of your feet.
  • Keep your neck in a neutral position as you lift yourself off the floor.
  • Reset before each rep
  • You have the option of touching down to the mat between reps, or stopping just before your hips touch the mat. If you do the latter, it will be more challenging.

Video Transcription: 

The body weight glute bridge is a fantastic exercise, not only to activate your glutes but to teach you how to extend your hips while keeping your core braced. I am going to show you on the ground. I like to give myself a little bit of head support because otherwise my neck will be out of neutral and it is not quite as comfortable. I am going to start out on the ground with my head supported. Feet are generally about hip width apart. Now a lot of people do these and just throw themselves up into a glute bridge. They are actually not doing it correctly – they are extending through their lumbar spine instead of through their hip. So one theme that you will notice in a lot of videos we film: Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth, a hard exhale to set the rib cage and then do the same thing with the glute bridge. A big deep breath in, blow your air out, get my rib cage down, brace my core, and then come up and squeeze my glutes. You will notice that I am not getting up as high as I was earlier when I was demonstrating the wrong way of doing it. That’s because I was getting that extra extension through my back instead of through my hips. Ideally you will be in a nice straight line from your knees to your shoulders to the top and I generally just hold it for a second or two.

Then there are a couple of things you can do to make it more challenging. One thing you can do is to add a band around your knees. This is going to give you a little bit of tension, then you drive your knees out against the band and squeeze your glutes, big breath, then blow it out, rib cage down, core braced, up and squeeze. Again this is teaching you how to extend your hips while keeping your core braced.

Another variation is a single leg glute bridge. These can be pretty hard. Its really important here to bring your knee to your chest. If you bring your knee to your chest to do the single leg glute bridge on this leg, that’s going to block that lumbar extension that I was just talking about – the excessive lumbar extension. Here, come up, again it’s not a big range of motion. Come up, you are driving through your heel, you really want to try to squeeze your glute as you do it. If you feel your hamstrings to start to cramp think about pulling your feet a little bit closer to your body, Come up, squeeze. You really want to try to lift your whole pelvis evenly and not let it shift around.

Another variation you can try will prepare you for a barbell hip thrust which I am going to show you a little bit later. This is just going to be a bodyweight hip thrust (also called a back elevated glute bridge). You can see that you are going to do the exact same motion except your back is going to be elevated so it’s actually going to increase the range of motion a little bit. So you are here, back is elevated, knees are bent, feet flat on the floor, big breath, blow your air out, brace your core, and come up and squeeze, down, up and squeeze. And you can do this same thing with the single leg, I wouldn’t recommend grabbing this knee, because then you will fall off the bench. You are going to just lift this leg off the ground. There you go.

About The Author: Molly Galbraith

Molly Galbraith, CSCS is co-founder and woman-in-charge at Girls Gone Strong, a global movement of 800,000+ folks passionate about women’s health, fitness, and empowerment. She’s also the creator of the The Girls Gone Strong Academy, home of the world’s top certifications for health and fitness pros who want to become a Certified Pre-& Postnatal Coach or a Certified Women’s Coaching Specialist.   The GGS Academy is revolutionizing women’s health and fitness by tackling critical (and often overlooked) topics like body image struggles, disordered eating, menopause, amenorrhea and menstrual cycle struggles, PCOS, endometriosis, osteoporosis, pre- and postnatal exercise, incontinence, diastasis recti, pelvic organ prolapse, postpartum recovery, and much more.   Learn more about Molly on her website and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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