WANT TO TONE UP YOUR BUTT AND GET IT MORE FIRM, ROUND AND FULL?
Glute bridges are a great beginner exercise to strengthen your core, low back and glutes (aka your butt, short for the gluteus muscles). Not only do these exercises tone, but also build fuller and more rounded butt appearance. There are many modifications to challenge those with even the strongest ‘buns of steel’, including my favorite squats, lunges and deadlifts. Let’s take a closer look at the following topics along with many videos to help guide you:
- Proper technique
- Common mistakes
- Variations to the exercise
- Advanced movements
- How to build them into your exercise
- Gluteus maximus (aka your booty) are important for every movement that requires your hip to extend past your body (ie. climbing stairs)
- Core (rectus abdominus, transversus, obliques, low back stabilizers, gluteus minimus and medius)
- Hamstring – Slight stabilization involvement (biceps femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus)
- Laying on your back with a neutral or flat spine (not arched) and eyes looking straight up
- Feet parallel or slightly turned out (knees follow the width of your feet)
- Feet 2-4 inches away from your bottom (without changing the position of your spine)
- Hands on your hips or on the floor beside you for more stability
- Inhale as you engage your core (if you don’t know what this means, try laughing or coughing with your hands on your abdomen and feel it tense up)
- Exhale as you raise your hips up. Make a straight line from knees to hips to shoulders (your weight should be in your heels and back remains stable)
- Hold for 3 seconds and squeeze your glutes as if there was a $100 bill between your cheeks and slight extend the hips higher (with a stable back and core)
- Continue to contract your glutes as you slowly lower your hips
- As you reach the floor, don’t rest. Lift straight back up for another repetition.
- Arched back – It’s easy to lose your form as you raise your hips and especially at the very top of the hip extension. Make sure your core and glutes are always engaged to keep your spine flat and avoid low back injuries.
- Overusing hamstring muscles – Keep your weight pressing into your heels and keep your glutes engaged.
- Adding weights too soon – If your glutes and stabilizing muscles aren’t ready for added weights, you can really injury your back. Take slow progressions and get some initial training with a personal trainer.
Variations of the Basic Glute Bridge
It’s always a good idea to try different variations to your glute bridge stance, weights and movement patterns so that you continue to challenge yourself and avoid boredom. Here’s a video outlining the exercises below with my good friend Molly Galbraith, owner of Girls Gone Strong.
1. With adduction and abduction – To make the basic glute bridge more challenging and to start strengthening weak areas, try using a ball or band. Placing a ball between the knees will help to strenghten your adductors (inner thigh muscles) if you find your knees are falling wider than your feet during the glute bridge. If the opposite is happening (your knees are coming together), then try putting a band around the outsides of the knees to really activate your abductors (outer thigh muscles).
2. Marching Glute Bridge – Once you are in a stable glute bridge position, try alternating legs off the ground (without rocking the hips). Start in your elevated position with your hips up high, then slowly remove 1 leg up to 90˚, hold for 3 seconds, then place it back down and change legs.
3. Single leg bridges – These are similar to alternating single leg bridges, but now you and performing several repetitions on the same leg, making it more challenging.
4. Feet on an unstable surface (ie. ball, TRX) – Using an unstable surface while performing a basic body weight glute bridge is harder than you think. Putting your feet on a physio ball or TRX will immediately show you any of your core and glutes instabilities (be careful you don’t fall over the first time). Use your hands on the floor to help balance you. If you want an added challenge, try doing it single legged, but always practice good technique.
5. Hip thrusters – By definition, hip thrusters are glute bridges with surface elevated shoulder. You can perform all the same variations to hip thrusters as glute bridges with only your body weight.
Advanced Hip Hinge Movements
I won’t be able to do a thorough job on the advanced modifications, so if you want more information go to The Glute Guy– Bret Contreras. Here are some exercises and videos:
1. Barbell Weighted Hip Thrust – Bret Contreras
2. Kettle Bell Swing – Neghar Foononi
3. Standing Hip Band Thrusters – Bret Contreras
4. Cable Pull Throughs – Toni Gentlecore
5. Deadlift – Neghar Foononi – This is one of my favorites and I’ll be writing a whole article on this exercise soon.
Incorporating Glute Bridges into your Routine
- Slowly progressing into more difficult exercises.
- Practice the basic glute bridge with proper form before loading with weights
- Use the basic glute bridge as a warm up for more advanced exercises