7 Glute Bridges That'll Wake Up Your Butt and Core

May 31 2023 - 1:25pm

Want to strengthen your butt, hamstrings, and back, all while working on your core stability [1]? You can do it all in one fell swoop, thanks to the glute-strengthening wonder known as the bridge. You've likely seen this exercise in everything from Pilates workouts [2] and yoga classes to strength workouts and physical therapy routines [3] — that's because it's a beginner-friendly move that just about anyone can benefit from. Doing glute bridges is a great way to build deep core strength and wake up inactive or dormant butt muscles [4] (when they become weak or dysfunctional due to prolonged sitting and tight hip flexors), per the National Academy of Sports Medicine [5] (NASM).

You don't need any equipment to do glute bridges, but you do need some tips to properly activate your glutes while you're banging out reps. Here's an intro to the glute bridge exercise, plus several variations to try. They'll help turn this traditional exercise up a notch or adjust the target to different muscles so you can make the most of this winning move.

Traditional Glute Bridge Exercise

Before you try any variations, it's key to master the traditional glute bridge exercise. To make sure you're properly activating your glutes in the bridge exercise, the American Council on Exercise [7] recommends thinking about first finding a posterior pelvic tilt before you lift your hips. To find a posterior pelvic tilt, think about moving your belly button toward your chin, and your butt toward your heels — similar to the "tuck" motion that's cued in barre or Pilates.

Marching Bridge

By holding the top of a glute bridge and marching your feet, you increase the demand placed on your core, which is helping to keep you from tilting or tipping over. This bridge exercise variation also asks your bottom leg to hold more weight, which challenges the hamstring and glutes on that side.

Single-Leg Bridge

Once glute marches feel easy, you can try single-leg glute bridges, which research shows [9] are great for activating all three glute muscles as well as your hip stabilizers and core. If this feels too challenging, you can also keep your lifted leg bent with the knee at about 90 degrees.

Bridge With Yoga Block

Whether you use a pillow, Pilates ball [10], yoga block, or Pilates ring [11] between your knees, this bridge exercise variation engages your inner thighs and helps you connect to your deep core.

Elevated Bridge

Doing the bridge exercise with your feet elevated puts more emphasis on your hamstrings. You can do this with your feet on a step or plyometric box — or to make it even harder, by placing your feet on an exercise ball, as shown.

Straight-Leg Bridge Hold With Stability Ball

Like the previous bridge exercise variation, this one also challenges your hamstrings more than a feet-on-the-floor glute bridge. Doing this exercise on an exercise ball increases the balance and stability challenge, but you can also do it with your heels on a chair, step, or plyometric box.

Bridge Pose (aka Half-Wheel Pose)

Bridge Pose in yoga is a variation of the bridge exercise, though it's less of a strength move and more of a stretch for the front of your body — namely your chest and hips. While the goal of other bridges is to form a straight line with your body and keep your core engaged, this move is about opening up, so you can allow your back to arch.

Source URL