Personalized Workout & Meal PlansGet Started
Fact checked by Tyler DiGiovanni, BSBMFACT CHECKED
November 26, 2022
The bridge exercise is a great move for all fitness levels and can be used to hit any gym goal. Almost everyone has performed it at some point in their training, and will likely perform it again in the future.
This is because its simplicity allows it to be done at home or the gym, making it an excellent choice for lower-body training.
And the best part? There are plenty of variations, meaning it's just as versatile as it is effective. You can increase the intensity of the hip bridge to continue gaining muscle, and through easy modifications, can target different muscle groups.
In this article, we'll go through everything you need to know about the bridge exercise, including:
The bridge exercise is a bodyweight movement that trains your posterior chain and can be done anywhere. This includes your erector spinae, glutes (butt muscles), and hamstring muscles. In addition, it also challenges the core muscles.
And by using bridge exercise variations, you can target other muscle groups, such as your adductors (inner thigh) and abductors (outer thigh) muscles.
The bridge exercise itself is extremely easy to do, requiring you to lie on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. You then thrust your hips upwards and hold. Easy!
Well, it's a bit more complicated than that, and anyone who has done this exercise certainly wouldn't describe it as easy. We'll get into that below.
Before we go any further, let's discuss the proper form for the basic bridge exercise. Visualizing what this exercise looks like makes learning muscles used and its benefits easier to understand.
Pay attention, as good form can improve hip mobility, strength, and function!
How to do the Glute Bridge Exercise:
For muscle hypertrophy, it's important to follow correct bridge exercise form. Here are 6 tips to help you do that.
Numerous bridge exercise benefits make it a great exercise choice for any workout split. Its versatility, matched with ease of modification, means it is an exercise you need to know about.
Here are the top hip bridges benefits.
The bridge exercise is extremely simple to perform, making it a great choice for beginners.
While some biomechanics go into proper form, it's generally less technical than most other exercises. Further, the risk of injury is much lower because it's usually performed with no load.
There are an endless array of variations of the hip bridge exercise, so you can continue progressing.
The beauty of calisthenics workout plans (a.k.a. bodyweight exercises) is that they are free and can be done anywhere. There are a ton of reasons why you may not be able to get to a gym. Or, perhaps you just enjoy training in the comfort of your home.
If this is you, the glute bridge exercise delivers. Some of the variations will require a minimal amount of equipment, like resistance bands and medicine balls, but they're also not necessary.
We guarantee you can find a glute bridge variation that's right for you. We won't go into too much detail here, as we'll list all of them below.
However, it's important to know that this isn't just a single exercise. In fact, you can use the glute bridge back-to-back to hit opposing muscles or alter intensity levels for almost any age or fitness level. For example, you can start with a bodyweight bridge exercise for your warm-up and then incorporate a single leg glute bridge into your routine.
Even with the variations, the bridge exercise may be too easy for some trainees. But that doesn't mean it has no use. Rather, its purpose just shifts.
Instead of an exercise for building and strengthening muscles, the bridge exercise for glutes can be used in a dynamic warm-up to fire the glutes. In fact, many of the strongest guys and girls on the planet will use bridge variations as part of a dynamic warm-up.
Hip extension is one of the most fundamental movement patterns you can perform. In addition, it's one of the most important for performance and quality of life.
If you were to examine most lower body exercises and break down the biomechanics, you would see that hip extension is performed.
In addition, basic movements such as jumping and sit-to-stand require hip extension.
This is why having the strength and skills to be competent in this movement pattern is so important. The glute bridge exercise is a great way to get there, which is why it's even a favorite exercise in many physical therapy routines.
The basic bridge exercise is primarily a hip extension movement pattern. This means the bridging exercise targets your posterior chain muscles while improving your core and spinal stabilization and stability.
Here's a look at the glute bridge muscles worked.
Your glutes contain 3 different muscles, which are sometimes just referred to as the butt muscles. These muscles include:
Strong glutes are vital for performance and quality of life.
The hamstrings also contain three different muscles and sit on the posterior upper leg. These three muscles cross both the hips and knees, resulting in two roles, which include being the primary flexor of the knee and aiding in hip extension.
Hamstring muscles are especially important to strengthen as hamstring injuries are fairly common. In addition, they play a major role in walking and running as they extend the hip when it is planted. As a result, it pulls the body forward.
The erector spinae is a name for a group of back muscles. While generally attributed to the lower back, these muscles start at the spine's base and travel up the back while branching out into "fingers."
The effect is a muscular corset that provides stability to the entire core.
During bridge exercises, the erector spinae helps to keep the torso in a straight line and prevents sagging. This makes it a great erector spinae exercise.
The core muscles, which in addition to the abdominal muscles actually include the erector spinae, work to keep the torso tight during the bridging exercise. Having strong core stability is vital for performance and protecting the spine.
So now that you know how awesome the basic move is, we're going to show you some of the awesome variations. The basic form for each variation is similar to the simple glute bridge exercise.
Therefore, after explaining the benefits of each variation, we'll only go over the parts of the exercise that make the movement different, along with any special tips that may help. In other words, we won't tell you to "lie on your back" for every one.
Ready to build muscle? Let's get started!
A very simple variation, it's actually almost exactly like the basic bridge. However, in the starting position on the ground, you place a sturdy object under your feet. You can put your feet on anything sturdy from a plyo box to a bench to a kitchen chair. From here, you perform the exercise in the same way.
The elevated bridge simply results in a larger range of motion, meaning more stress on the body. Keep in mind you can combine this with many of the variations below.
There's going to come a time when the basic glute bridge exercise is just too easy. While you could still use it as part of a dynamic warm-up, it won't be a terribly effective exercise to add strength and muscle if you continue to use only body weight.
To fix this, you can simply add a load to the movement, making it a weighted bridge exercise. You can easily increase the intensity by placing some weight on your hips.
When you use a load, place it directly on your hip joints. For this reason, dumbbells or kettlebells tend to work better as the apparatus is smaller. Trust us, a dumbbell glute bridge will have your posterior chain burning!
Having said that, the beauty of this move is its versatility. So if you're at home and don't have any weights, grab a heavy book or another heavy object, and bridge away!
During the basic bridge exercise instructions, we mentioned some cues you can use to further activate the hamstrings. This is another one you'll love adding to a leg workout!
Getting up on your heels is a slight variation you can do to instantly increase the activation of your posterior chain. It's a simple and quick way to change the stimulus.
Everything is done exactly the same, except you're on your heels rather than having your feet flat on the ground. You then drive your heels downward while pulling toward you.
Resistance bands can be extremely useful for the hip bridge, as using one is an easy method to apply a load to different angles.
Hip abduction occurs when the thigh moves away from the body, and external rotation occurs when the thigh rotates outward. The movements are similar in terms of muscles used, and there are a lot of crossovers.
Regardless, both movement patterns are very important for overall hip health.
For this variation, you'll need to squeeze a medicine ball instead of stretching a resistance band, which will strengthen your hip internal rotators and hip adductors.
Different gyms will have various size balls and weights, but the general idea remains the same. You place a medicine ball in between your thighs so that you need to squeeze it to keep it from falling.
Performing the glute bridge exercise with one leg straight can instantly change the total muscle activation of this exercise. Because only one foot is on the ground, the body is significantly less stable.
Generally, two feet on the ground provide a wide, stable base to support the lower body. With this exercise, one leg must work extra hard to keep the body from falling.
The single-leg bridge requires the stabilizer muscles to activate to a greater extent. This can include the abductors, abductors, and gluteus medius. Further, you'll improve core stability to keep the core straight.
These muscles, specifically the gluteus medius, are extremely important for balance and proper gait as the glute medius is one of the primary muscles responsible for the balance on one leg.
Ready to progressive overload this move? Turn it into weighted glute bridges using a single leg at a time.
The marching glute bridge is intense. To perform the glute bridge march, you will follow the original hip bridge exercise directions, getting into the basic bridge position. This means you're on the ground with your hips extended.
This is the starting position for the bridge march. While maintaining full hip extension, begin to march.
Pick one leg off the ground while keeping your knees bent. Pull the leg up toward your head as if you were marching. Lower it, repeating with the other leg. Continue this marching movement for the prescribed reps. These are intense as you must keep your core engaged and muscles activated the entire time.
When you perform these, have the mindset that the slower you go, the better your results. This means you will slowly lower your legs and raise them. You can also play with pausing in various positions just to keep it interesting.
The barbell glute bridge is the most advanced form of the bridge. While its form is easy (it's done just like the basic version), you place a loaded barbell across your hips. This differs from a loaded glute bridge exercise because you can use significantly more weight.
When you set up the barbell, just make sure it lays in your hip crease and is centered. This is a great variation for improving muscular strength.
When looking at the intensity of your bridge workout, it can be difficult to place it in the best spot. For beginner lifters, it may be one of the harder exercises and should be performed at the beginning of a session.
For others, it may be extremely easy and should be done toward the end or as a finisher. Let your lifting experience dictate where you place this exercise.
The glute bridges exercise is a great tool to have, whoever you are and whatever your ability is. It's simple, effective, and can be done anywhere. Combined with the numerous ways to alter it, it is an efficient tool for building muscle.
The glute bridge increases your hip extension while strengthening your glutes and hamstrings, which is what everyone needs for aesthetics, performance, and injury prevention. Whether you use it as a glute activation exercise or to build lower body strength, the glute bridge will improve your backside.
If you're still not sure, try glute bridges exercise in your next fitness routine. Hold the bridge position for as long as possible, and you'll be a believer! Hello, posterior chain hypertrophy!
Comments will be approved before showing up.
November 29, 2023
November 28, 2023
November 28, 2023
At SFS we strive to equip you with the tools and knowledge needed for your fitness journey. Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases, killer workouts, actionable fitness content and more. As our motto goes - "You don't have to get ready if you stay #alwaysready!"