7 Glute Bridge Exercises That’ll Work All The Muscles In Your Butt

There’s nothing wrong with sticking to a standard glute bridge as a way to work your lower body. But if you’re looking to mix things up — or want to hit a whole new set of muscles — that’s when you might want to try one of the many variations of glute bridge exercises that exist.

A standard glute bridge is a bodyweight exercise where you lie on your back, bend your knees, and lift your hips off the floor, explains Dr. Tessa Spencer, PharmD, CNC, CPT, a certified personal trainer. You’ll often do these in butt workouts as it effectively targets the glutes, though it also strengthens your hamstrings and core muscles. It’s important to have lower body strength, but a strong booty is equally key since it helps prevent injury and improve your overall functional strength.

According to Emily Skye, a trainer and owner of the virtual fitness program Emily Skye FIT, a glute bridge is also helpful for keeping your posture balanced. “It works the muscles at the front of the hips, for an all-round stronger pelvic region,” she tells Bustle, noting that this in turn keeps the rest of your body in alignment. The move is also known as a stabilization exercise as it activates the stability muscles in your spine, which results in an improved posture in everyday movements.

A classic glute bridge — or any of its variations — can be done every day as part of your pre-workout warmup, Skye says. Hop down on a mat and do a few reps to stretch your hips and light up the lower half of your body before cardio or other lower-body exercises. You can also do them as part of a strength training routine (perhaps on butt day). Skye recommends doing glute bridges three to four days a week to see the most benefit. Here, trainers break down seven different glute bridge exercises to help you get started.

1. Single-Leg Glute Bridge

According to Skye, this power move is great for the posterior chain, aka the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. An added tip? “If bridges give you a cramp in your hamstrings, try raising your toes off the ground and using just the heels of your feet to keep you stable,” she says.

– Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor about hip distance apart.

– Pull one leg up to your chest and hold it in place with both hands. Or, extend one leg straight off the ground.

– Brace your abs, squeeze your glutes, and push through your planted heel to lift your hips into the air.

– Hold the bridge for a moment before slowly lowering back down.

– Raise and lower for 40 seconds per side.

2. Resistance Band Glute Bridge Abduction

By adding an abduction, or sideways movement, with a resistance band, Skye says this exercise will effectively target all the glute muscles at once.

– Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor about hip-distance apart.

– Add a resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees.

– Activate your core, squeeze your glutes, and push through your heels to lift your hips into the air.

– At the top of the bridge, widen your knees out to the side, pushing against the resistance of the band.

– Bring your knees back together, lower your hips back down.

– Raise and lower for 40 seconds.

3. Frog Pumps

Effectively activate your booty muscles with this variation. “Frog pumps take your hamstrings and lower back out of the equation to make your gluteus maximus and minimus do all the work — a great way to activate sleeping muscles,” Skye says.

– Lie on your back, arms by your sides with palms facing down. Hands can be tucked in under the sides of your butt.

– Bring the soles of your feet together and shuffle them as close to your hips as possible.

– Let your knees open out to the sides.

– Engage your core and squeeze your glutes as you push against the sides of your feet to lift your hips into the air.

– Hold for a moment at the top of the pump, then lower your hips back down.

– Your core and glutes should remain activated throughout.

– Raise and lower for 40 seconds.

4. Slide Bridge

According to Kate Hamm, a fitness and yoga instructor and owner of AnamBliss, this bridge exercise activates the hamstrings and improves hip stabilization. “Maintaining an even pelvis strengthens the gluteus minimus and medius for more stable hips that can aid in walking and running,” she tells Bustle.

– Begin in a traditional bridge position, lying on the ground on your back with your knees bent.

– Have socks on, or slide a towel under one foot to use as a glider.

– Place your hands on your ASIS, aka the boney points of the front of the hips.

– Press into your feet and lift your hips up off the ground.

– Slide one foot away from your body, keeping your ASIS even. (You may notice that the moving leg wants to dip down.)

– Press your heel into the ground and pull your foot back in.

– Repeat 10 to 20 times on one leg, then switch feet.

– For a challenge, try sliding both feet out and back in at the same time.

5. Long Bridge Variation

This glute bridge exercise involves a different foot placement, which works to activate your hamstrings more than your glutes. If you have tight hammies or back pain, Hamm says this move can help loosen things up.

Begin in a traditional bridge position, lying on the ground on your back with your knees bent.

– Move your feet away from your body until your knees are about 6 to 8 inches off the ground.

– If it feels better, flex your feet so just your heels are on the ground.

– Press into your feet to lift your hips up off the ground.

– You’ll feel it in the hamstrings.

– Lower the hips down to the ground.

Repeat 10 to 20 times.

– For a challenge, reach your hands up in the air to increase instability, or try a single-leg variation.

6. Elevated Glute Bridge

According to Weilin Wu, PT, a personal trainer with Blink Fitness, an elevated glute bridge increases the distance your hips have to travel, which can help you better target your posterior chain.

– Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on top of an elevated surface, like a step, bench, exercise ball, or couch.

– Rest your arms by your sides.

– Squeeze your glutes and abs as you lift your hips toward the ceiling.

– Raise your hips as high as you can go without arching your back. (You don’t want to put too much pressure on your neck.)

– Squeeze glutes as tightly as you can in the top position

– Slowly lower your hips down to the floor, engaging your abs and glutes as you go.

– Do two sets of 12 reps, with a one-second pause at the bottom.

7. Glute Bridge Hold

Exercises that require you to hold yourself steady for an extended period of time are a great way to keep your core, spine, and body well-supported, Spencer says. “They also help create balance in your day-to-day activities and prevent injury.”

– Lie back on the floor, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the ground hip-width apart.

– Your arms can rest at your sides or cross at the chest.

– Drive up through your heels to lift your glutes off the ground.

– Lift your hips as high as possible, squeezing the glutes at the top.

– Keep your belly button drawn in so you don’t hyper-extend your back.

– Make sure your knees remain in line with your hips and ankles.

– Keep squeezing your glutes and hold at the top for at least 30 seconds.

– Lower back down.

– Do three sets of 10 reps.

– For a challenge, try a single-leg glute hold.

Studies referenced:

Choi, K. (2016). The effects of performing a one-legged bridge with hip abduction and use of a sling on trunk and lower extremity muscle activation in healthy adults. J Phys Ther Sci. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5080190/

Huxel Bliven, KC 2013. Core stability training for injury prevention. Sports health. https://doi.org/10.1177/1941738113481200.

Yoon, JO 2018. Effect of modified bridge exercise on trunk muscle activity in healthy adults: a cross sectional study. Brazilian journal of physical therapy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjpt.2017.09.005

Sources:

Emily Skye, trainer

Kate Hamm, fitness and yoga instructor

Weilin Wu, PT, personal trainer

Dr. Tessa Spencer, PharmD, CNC, CPT, certified personal trainer

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