Single Leg, Bench, Variations that Work [Video]

Glute bridges are the basic exercise we’ve all seen, maybe thanks to yoga, maybe from an unfortunate trip to the physical therapist, but then we assume it’s too basic to KEEP DOING.

Bzzzz wrong!!

I’m not sure why we think basic is bad, but in this case it’s one of the best exercises runners can be doing to keep from having knee pain, IT Band pain or a host of other injuries.

I know it’s not as sexy as the squat, but listen you get to lay on the ground and get results. I mean that sounds like a great pre or post run moment to me.

What Does the Glute Bridge Do?

Glute bridge benefits are extensive, but specifically when it comes to running:

  • Hip flexors get shorter from sitting which makes them tight, which pulls your pelvis forward. That leads to poor posture and weird running form.
  • Activates all your core stabilizer muscles, those deep muscles for good form while running
  • Activates your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, which can mean less knee pain because you hold your form better, also helps you run faster with that powerful muscle
  • Can help with lower back pain while running
  • Great at the end of an abs workout to release any low back pain from tightening the core

Try adding bridges in to your dynamic warm up or do a set during any strength training workout.

What is the glute bridge?

The key with any movement is to perform it correctly. So before we move in to any variations, let’s make sure you are correctly working through the range of motion and stability of the basics.

Also known as a hip bridge, this movement is simple, which doesn’t mean easy! It’s going to engage your butt muscles, your hips, your lower back muscles (your entire torso), which is what makes it such an all star movement.

  • Lying on your back with feet on the floor.
  • Reach your hands down so your heels touch your finger tips.
  • Pressing your full foot in to the floor
  • Raise your hips in to a straight line with your head
  • Make sure your core is engaged
  • Make sure that neither side is dropped
  • Make sure you aren’t over extending and arching your back
  • Make sure you aren’t letting your hips drop down towards the ground

As Physical Therapists often remind us, we are working on controlled movements to recruit the right muscles.

This is a stellar glute activation movement!

Start by simply holding that bridge for 30 seconds. Work up to holding for 1 minute. Then start working up to raising and lowering while maintaining a good position.

You may NOT feel your glute muscles burning right away. But you want to pay attention to if you feel like your hamstrings or quads are taking over and trying to do the majority of the work.

Glute Bridge Variations

Per usual I like to make sure you know the why to help you stick with it. Now that we have that in place, which types of glute bridges are going to maximize results.

The truth is all of them work, but I love adding in variety because it helps me to feel it in different ways. In fact, the glute bridge march really fires up my core and is often part of my normal dynamic warm up now.

In the following video, I’ve demonstrated a variety of bridge exercises for you.

You’ll see in this video that you can take the bridge to a variety of levels depending on where you are currently.

A few glute bridge exercises I love, these allow you to progress over time:

  • Small marching bridge (really feel the core)
  • Big marching bridge (really practicing pelvis stabilization)
  • Single-leg bridge (more easily identifys imbalances or weakness on one side)
  • Glute bridge on the stability ball or bench

If in doing these you notice one side is weaker, continue doing reps on both sides, but add a few more to the weak side. This will ensure you continue building strength, but give the weaker side a big more work.

The core stability created from these moves makes them ideal as part of your dynamic warm upnot just a stand alone workout routine.

What about the glute bridge vs hip thrust?

One of the reasons, I tend to stick to the glute bridge is that I find people can do it more correctly and thus engage the appropriate muscles.

With the hip thrust, I see people doing all kinds of things that are going to hurt their lower back or just aren’t actually activating anything because they’re focused on hitting a certain weight.

Here’s a great video on how to do it correctly.

When done right you are getting a definite booty building strength workout from those thrusters, while the glute bridge is doing to work on stabilizers and propel our runs…it may not be helping you to add a lot of muscle for that rounded bum.

Additionally since it only requires bodyweight to hold a bridged position, it’s less intimidating and you’re more likely to do it.

Barbell Hip Bridge

That being said, I’m also a fan of a weighted bridge, which I didn’t include in the video.

You can simply hold a weight (or barbell) on your pelvis, while engaging the core and glutes to raise up to a standard bridge and then slowly lower down.

Again, you need to really pay attention to not letting one side drop.

Looking for more hip and glute work?

How often do you include hip bridges in your workouts?

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