The humble glute bridge is a part of every postpartum recovery program. And with good reason. When performed correctly, glute bridges are a fantastic tool to address your glute strength and pattern hip hinge movements. They’re simple. And they happen on the floor. And lets be real, sometimes exercising while laying down is just perfect.
But. You don’t want to get stuck here. While many folks are assigned the glute bridge at some point, they don’t necessarily progress beyond it. Don’t let that be you! One of the cool things about the glute bridge is it helps you pattern and progress to higher level hinge hinge exercises like squats, deadlifts and kettlebell swings. And those are where the big strength gains happen.
Here are a few some tips, tricks, and glute bridge progressions to help you maximize the gains from this exercise as you continue to get stronger:
1. Use your breath.
Learn to use your breath to stabilize your core. This will help offload your back and hip flexors and make it more likely your glutes will do the heavy lifting.
Use an audible exhale (like blowing out candles) paired with gentle pelvic floor contraction to help kick on your core. Exhale and squeeze your booty as you raise your hips off the ground, inhale to lower.
If you need a tutorial on how to breathe in coordination with exercise, please take advantage of The No B.S. Guide to a Stronger, Drier Pregnancy and Postpartum. It contains the fundamental breath coordination lessons I teach all my 1:1 clients.
2 Focus on recruiting the right muscles.
The glute bridge is a GLUTE exercise. If you feel like you’re using more of your hamstrings or hip flexors, you have some fine-tuning available.
If you’re primarily feeling work in your hamstrings (the back of your legs):
Try pulling your heels towards your butt. The further your heels are from your butt, the more hamstrings you’ll use.
If you’re primarily feeling the work in your hip flexors (the front of your hips down to upper thighs):
As you exhale and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips, drive your heels into the ground. This will back the whole backside of your body more active. If you need an extra kick, with your arms long by your side, press your palms into the floor at the same time.
3. Glute bridge progressions
Recruit your side butt:
Add a miniband just above your knees. As you perform your reps, maintain outward pressure against the band.
Reduce your base of stability:
Add a march. Exhale to lift your hips. Inhale to reset. Strong audible exhale to lift one knee to 90 degrees, while squeezing the opposite glute to help maintain pelvic stability.
Increase your time under tension
Exhale to lift your hips, inhale half-way down, exhale back to the top, inhale all the way down. That’s one rep.
Change the range of motion:
Elevate you’re your heels onto a bench or couch. You can perform any glute bridge variation in this position: 2 legs, single-leg, or marching (as demonstrated below).
When I assign these exercises, it’s usually in sets of 3 for 8-12 reps.
How do you know when to move on? You should be able to easily do 12-15 reps, while breathing, while in control of your movement.
If you are having to grind these out OR if you feel your abdominal wall pooching upwards rather than contracting like a corset during the hardest parts of the exercise, you’re at a progression that is too hard. Go back one step.
Did you try them? Let me know!
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Contact me if you have questions about exercise or pelvic health pertaining to pregnancy or postpartum. I also offer personal training services and consultations to folks locally (Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland) and online.