Glute bridges are a great exercise to add to your lower body workout routine. Learning how to do a glute bridge is simple, and you can do this exercise practically anywhere, whether you have equipment or not.
What Is a Glute Bridge?
A glute bridge exercise is used to activate your glutes and increase your core stability. It’s a straightforward movement that fights underactivity in your glutes, back pain, tightness in your back, and more.
What Muscles Does a Glute Bridge Work?
Glute bridge muscles worked are located near the middle of your body. Mainly, this exercise targets the glutes. Most specifically, glute bridges work the gluteus maximus. The hip extension aspect of this exercise involves the hamstrings, and the core aspect targets the transversus abdominis. When you do this exercise with a resistance band above your knees, the gluteus medius portion of the glutes works extra hard.
Directions for Doing a Glute Bridge
- Lie on your back and set your knees about shoulder-width apart, with your feet flat to the ground and your knees bent. Make sure your toes are pointed straight forward and that your heels are 6–8 inches from your glutes. Lay your arms flat on either side of you with your palms open toward the ceiling.
- Slowly raise your hips, engage your glutes, and squeeze your abs.
- Be careful not to arch your back as you lift your hips as high as possible. A perfect glute bridge consists of elevating your hips until your torso makes a straight line from your shoulder up to your knee.
- Once you reach the top of the glute bridge, squeeze your glutes as tightly as possible and hold for a few seconds.
- Lower your hips back down to the ground in a controlled motion without releasing the tension in your abs and glutes.
Glute Bridge Adaptations
Weighted glute bridge. If your goal is to increase strength, you can slowly incorporate weights. Be sure to add weight gradually to avoid injury and optimize the benefits of a weighted glute bridge. Once you master the body weight variation and proper form, you can feel confident adding weight. Start by laying a dumbbell or weighted bag on your hips. Lightly hold the weight as you lift and lower your hips so it doesn’t fall off or roll back onto you.
Single-leg bridge. If your goal is to increase stability, you’ll want to challenge your core more in addition to your glutes. A single-leg bridge is a glute bridge done with one leg bent in its typical position and one leg pointed straight up. The straight leg rises and falls with the body as you go through the entire movement.
Elevated glute bridge. You’ll need a bench or similar surface for this glute bridge variation. Lie flat on this elevated surface so that your body is perpendicular to it; only your upper back and shoulders should be on the bench. With your feet flat to the ground and spread hip-width apart, drop your glutes slowly toward the ground. Lift your hips back up slowly and squeeze the muscles at the top of the movement. You can hold weights or a weighted bag on your hips to add more resistance.
Once you feel confident with the glute bridge, you can move on to the more challenging hip lift and hip thrust. All of these exercises target the glutes, but there are a few key differences:
- Glute bridges are typically bodyweight or lightly weighted, while hip lifts and thrusts are more heavily weighted.
- Glute bridges are used for activation, while hip lifts and thrusts are better for glute strengthening.
- Glute bridges can be done lying on the floor or an elevated surface, while hip lifts and thrusts are done leaning on an elevated surface.
The elevated, weighted nature of hip lifts and thrusts means that there is more bend in your hip movement. This stretches your glutes more and makes them work harder.
Benefits of Glute Bridges
Consistently doing glute bridges is an effective way to increase stability in your core, build strength in your glutes, and help you with form and function as you perform other exercises. Benefits of glute bridges mainly fall under stabilization and strength. Stabilizing your glutes can benefit exercises such as walking, running, deadlifts, and squats. Strengthening your glutes can also improve your form as you expand your workout routine and reduce general back pain.
Glute Bridge Mistakes To Avoid
Throughout the entire movement, focus on your glutes. If you notice that your hamstrings are doing a lot of the work, your feet may be too far from your glutes and need to be moved back. If the muscles in your lower back are working hard, reset to your starting position and make sure that your hips are tucked, your abs are activated, and your back doesn’t arch as you start to raise your hips again.
Another common mistake made during a glute bridge is not fully activating your glutes at the top of the movement. To avoid this, make sure to fully extend your hips while you’re flexing your glutes at the height of the bridge. Your hips should be aligned with your knees and shoulders.
Exercise With Care
As with any exercise, pay attention to how your body feels as you do glute bridges. Ease into incorporating glute bridges into your routine and be sure to give your body time to recover in between strength training. If you think you might have injured yourself while doing glute bridges, reach out to your healthcare provider immediately.