The glute bridge is a simple bodyweight exercise, perfect for beginners who want to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings for a firm and toned butt. You can do the glute bridge alone or as part of a lower body workout routine. If the glute bridge is too easy or boring for you, there are variations to make it more challenging.
Method 1 of 3: Perfect the glute bridge
Step 1. Lie on your back
Get into the starting position for the glute bridge by lying on the floor with your legs extended and your arms at your sides. It is advisable to use an exercise or yoga mat for cushioning and stability.
- Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. The spine should rest on the ground in a natural arched position.
- Keep your back in a neutral posture and your shoulders back. Take a few slow, deep breaths to connect with your breathing and focus.
Step 2. Exhale and contract the middle of the body
When doing the glute bridge, you should lift and extend from the hips, not the spine. Exhale fully, flattening your stomach and tightening your abdominal muscles.
As you exhale, keep your spine neutral and contract your abdominal muscles
Step 3. Lift your hips toward the ceiling
As you contract your mid-body, step firmly and flex your glutes to lift your hips off the floor until they are in line with your thighs.
In the correct position, the body will form a straight diagonal line from the knees to the shoulders. You should feel a stretch in the hip flexor muscles at the top of your thighs
Step 4. Hold for a second or two
Keep your shoulders back fixed on the floor. Focus on keeping your back neutral; Arching your lower back can cause strain or injury. All work must originate from the glutes and hamstrings.
You only need to hold the glute bridge for a moment before slowly lowering yourself back to the starting position. Lower your body with control, doing the same movement in reverse as when you have risen
Step 5. Do two sets of ten reps
If you do the glute bridge without problems, do two sets of ten repetitions two or three times a week. As you build strength in your glutes and hamstrings, you can add more reps or advance to one of the glute bridge variations.
Method 2 of 3: Do Glute Bridge Variations
Step 1. Perform a one-legged glute bridge
With the single leg variation, you will only have one foot on the ground, while the other will extend upward. Raise your leg before raising your hips on the glute bridge.
As with any single leg exercise, do both sides to maintain muscle balance. If you do two sets of 10 reps, do one with your right leg raised and then another with your left leg raised
Step 2. Elevate your feet to increase range of motion
If you have access to a bench, box, or other elevated surface, lie on the floor with your feet resting on top of it. When you do the bridge you will have to go higher, which will add a greater challenge to the exercise.
- Make sure the surface is stable and at the proper distance so that you can get a full extension. You should be able to rest your feet safely on the surface, so you will usually start by sitting so that your knees are almost at a right angle.
- With a raised bridge, keep your spine straight. You may have a greater tendency to arch your lower back than when you were not raising your feet.
- If you want to make the exercise even more challenging, rest your feet on a stability ball. This adds an element of balance that will work your glutes, hips, and mid-body more.
Step 3. Add a barbell or weight plate to build glute strength
The glute bridge uses your own body weight for resistance. By adding weight to your hips, you increase that resistance, making the exercise more difficult. Rest the bar or weight plate on your hips to start, holding each side with your palms facing the floor. As you build strength, add more weight.
If you are relatively new to this exercise, start with the weightless bar or a lighter disk and gradually increase the weight. Ask a friend to help you when you start to use weight or if you are using a significant amount of weight
Step 4. Use resistance bands to increase the difficulty
Resistance bands can make exercise more challenging without the need for plates and bars. You can purchase a set of resistance bands online or purchase them at a local sporting goods store for a relatively low price.
To work your glutes, wrap the resistance band around your hips and hold it with your hands pressed against the floor as you lift yourself up
Step 5. Stretch your chest with a tabletop bridge
With a regular glute bridge and most variations, the shoulders and head are kept on the ground, with the arms at the sides. For a tabletop bridge, raise your hips from the starting position and then straighten your arms so that your upper body resembles a table.
You can do this exercise like the regular bridge, going up and down for 10 reps, or you can try holding the position for 30 seconds to a minute while breathing deeply
Method 3 of 3: Supplement with Other Glute and Hamstring Exercises
Step 1. Move to an inverted plank
You may know how to do the plank exercise, where you are on your stomach. The same basic exercise is done on the inverted plank, except that you are on your back with your back towards the floor.
- To get into position, sit on the floor with your legs extended in front and your feet together. Place your palms on the floor behind you and your fingertips pointing toward your feet.
- As you exhale, press into the floor with your heels and palms as you raise your hips with the same movement as the glute bridge. Keep your legs extended.
- The back should be in a neutral position and the shoulders back so that the shoulder blades are tucked in next to the spine. Contract the middle of the body. The body should draw a straight line from the shoulders to the ankles. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute, and then slowly lower your hips to return to the starting position.
Step 2. Work your entire lower body when squatting
Basic squats increase body strength and are a nice addition along with the glute bridge to a lower body workout routine. In addition to the basic squat, you can also do any kind of variations.
- When squatting, keep your feet hip-width apart and contract your mid-body and glutes to lower your hips.
- Keep your knees directly above your ankles so that your shins are at a 90-degree angle to the ground.
Step 3. Focus on your hamstrings with the GHR (Glute Ham Raise)
The GHR is a basic bodyweight exercise that you can do alone or with a partner to build more strength in your hamstrings and glutes.
- Begin the exercise in a kneeling position with your toes on the floor. You can ask a friend to hold your ankles to keep your feet stable. If you are doing the exercise on your own, you can place your feet under a bed or sofa.
- Cross your arms across your chest and keep your torso in a straight line with your knees. Slowly lower your torso to the ground and lean forward. Even though you must contract your glutes and mid-body, your hamstrings are in charge of doing the work.
- Stretch your arms as you go down placing your hands on the ground. Use your arms to push yourself back in a slow, controlled motion to allow your hips to flex back to the starting vertical position to complete and repeat the exercise. Do two sets of ten repetitions of this exercise.
Step 4. Use dynamic stretches to strengthen your hamstrings
Get into position for this stretch by lying on your back with your legs extended and your feet flexed with your heels flat on the floor. Raise one leg at a 90-degree angle, then bend your knee so that it is also at a 90-degree angle.
- Hold the back of the raised leg. Stretch your leg up, then lower it back to the starting position in a slow, controlled movement.
- Do a slow set of 10 reps of this exercise, then switch and repeat with the other leg.
Step 5. Cool down with the child's posture
The child's pose is a yoga pose that gently stretches the back, midsection, and lower body. Perform it as a relaxing end to any lower body workout. To perform this pose, begin by kneeling on a mat or mat.
- The instep of the feet should be flat on the floor. Lower your hips back until your glutes are resting on your heels as you lean forward with your arms extended in front of you.
- Bend your legs and actively stretch your arms, pressing your fingertips into the mat. You can rest your forehead on the ground if it makes you comfortable.
- Stay in Child Pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths. You can stay in this position longer if you want to end your exercise with a little meditation, simply focusing on your breathing.
This exercise can be done effectively with a very small range of motion. If you've experienced lower back problems, you can raise your buttocks just a few inches off the floor and slowly work your way up, adding inches to the lift, as your body allows
- If you're just starting out in fitness, talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program, even if you're just doing simple bodyweight exercises. This is especially important if you have a recent or chronic injury to your legs or back.
- Do not attempt any variation of the glute bridge until you have mastered the basic version and are strong enough to complete multiple reps perfectly.