Bridge Exercises: Benefits, How To Do It & Variations
If you find you’re spending a lot of time sitting at the moment, the bridge exercise, or glute bridge, can help to keep your lower body active.
This movement works the posterior chain (the muscles on the back of your body). It is common in lower body workouts and a powerful glute activation exercise.
Glute bridges, or other glute-focused exercises, can be done at any time — try them when you wake up in the morning, during a lunch break, or at the end of the day.
Having tight hips or underactive glutes can make it hard to engage the correct muscles during a workout, so doing regular activation exercises can help you recruit your glutes correctly while you train.
- What is a bridge exercise
- How to do a bridge exercise
- Bridge exercise benefits
- Bridge exercise variations
Find out more about bridge exercises, some easy variations and their benefits for the lower body. Not only will strong glutes help to improve your performance in other exercises, they will also support your entire body in your everyday activities.
What is a bridge exercise?
A bridge exercise isolates and strengthens your gluteus (butt) muscles — the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus — and hamstrings, which are the main muscles that make up the posterior chain.
It is done by lying on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground and at a comfortable distance from your butt. The glute bridge requires no equipment and can be done while lying on a fitness or yoga mat, or a towel.
A glute bridge is simple enough to be completed at any age or fitness level, yet it’s challenging enough that you will feel the benefits well after you’ve finished your workout.
How to do a bridge exercise
Focus on engaging your glutes, rather than pushing your hips up high — doing this can cause lower back pain as you extend through the lumbar spine, and cause potential injury.
Squeeze your core and glutes the whole time and drive through your heels to raise your hips up with each repetition. Using a resistance band around your knees can help you to keep your knees pushed out and trigger glute activation.
- Start by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat. Bend your knees and position your feet firmly on the mat, ensuring that they are hip-width apart and your spine is in a neutral position. Allow your arms to rest by your sides on the mat. This is your starting position.
- Press your heels into the mat, activate your glutes and raise your pelvis off the floor until your body forms one straight line from chin to knee, resting on your shoulders.
- Inhale. Lower your pelvis to return to the starting position.
Bridge exercise benefits
The bridge exercise is the perfect addition to an at-home workout as it requires no equipment and minimal space. It’s a good exercise for hip mobility and strengthening the lower back, and as it’s low-impact, it is great for anyone who has knee or hip concerns.
As the glutes make up one of the largest muscle groups in your body, naturally they are going to use a lot of energy to train. This makes the glute bridge an effective exercise for women who have any fitness goals, like to lose fat or gain strength.
These muscles are also really important as you use them every day — doing everything from going for a walk, to bearing the load of a heavy laundry basket, or taking out the trash! The glute bridge can also help to increase core stability and improve your lower back and hip strength, which can then have a positive effect on your postural health.
Bridge exercise variations
By slightly repositioning your body, you can create a number of different glute-bridge variations, like the single-leg glute bridge, side bridge and pelvic tilt to bridge, to target and emphasise different muscle groups. Add weight with a barbell or dumbbells resting on your hips, or a resistance band around your knees to activate your glutes more during these exercises.
It’s important that you perfect your technique before attempting any glute bridge variations so that you can get the most out of the exercise and prevent injury.
Glute bridge and hamstring curl
- Begin lying face up on a yoga mat with your feet resting on top of a fitball and arms resting by your sides – ensuring that your spine is in a neutral position. This is your starting position.
- Gently draw your ribs to your hips to engage your core. Push your heels into the fitball to lift your hips until you are resting on your upper back, ensuring that your glutes initiate the movement. While keeping core engaged and hips elevated, bend your knees to roll the fitball in towards you. You should feel tension in your hamstrings as you do this.
- Inhale and extend your legs before returning to the starting position.
Glute bridge extension
- Begin lying face up on a yoga mat with your knees bent, feet hip-width apart and your arms resting by your sides – ensuring that your spine is in a neutral position. This is your starting position.
- Inhale and brace your core. Exhale and push your heels into the mat to lift your hips until you are resting on your upper back, creating a straight line from shoulder to knee. Ensuring that your glutes initiate the movement. While keeping your core engaged and hips elevated, straighten one of your legs. You should feel tension in your glutes and hamstrings as you do this.
- Inhale and bend your knee before returning to the starting position.
Build your lower body strength with bridge exercises and variations
Although the glutes are a big muscle group, it doesn't mean you have to train them intensely to get a good workout. Low-impact exercises like glute bridges are still a fantastic way to strengthen your glutes and other muscles groups all at the same time
If you enjoy this type of exercise, mat pilates is a gentler way to keep active at home to improve your core strength and stability. It’s also great cross-training for almost any sport as it helps to build your resilience to injury.
Have you tried the bridge exercise or variations in your workout yet? Let us know in the comments!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.