The bridge exercise is a great way to isolate and strengthen the gluteus (butt) muscles and hamstrings (back of the upper leg).
If you do this exercise correctly, you also will find that it is a good core stability and strengthening exercise that targets the abdominal muscles as well as the muscles of lower back and hip. Finally, the bridge exercise is considered a basic rehab exercise to improve core and spinal stabilization.
- Lay on your back with your hands by your sides, your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Make sure you line up your feet are under your knees and in line with your sit bones.
- Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles, and take a breath in to begin.
- Visualize lifting your bottom starting with your sacrum and lifting one vertebrae at a time.
- Raise your hips up to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders, exhale as you lift.
- Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine, to stabilize your spine.
- If your hips sag or drop, lower yourself back on the floor — slowly and carefully
- The goal is to maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your knees and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
- You may need to begin by holding the bridge position for a few seconds as you build your strength.
- It’s better to hold the correct position for a shorter time than to go longer in the incorrect position.
As you progress you can perform several variations of the bridge:
- Try clasping your hands together beneath your buttocks for an additional challenge, this will stretch your chest muscles.
- Rise up on your toes and extend 1 leg parallel to the floor or up towards the ceiling.
- Lift 1 of your feet and extend the leg parallel to the floor. Hold for 5 breaths and switch to the other leg.
- Lift a foot and extend your leg toward the ceiling. Clasp your hands under your buttocks and let your leg drift out to the side then back to center.
These are all options for progress and variety. It’s important to plan your exercise according to your personal goals and personal needs. If you have a job or lifestyle where you sit a lot, your gluteus and hip flexors may be weak — and your body is only as strong as your weakest link.
Your Exercise Challenge:
- See how many your can do — safely!
- Goal is to move slowly, hold for 20-30 seconds without moving or pain
- If you can do that — try a set of 5-10 reps, evaluate & report!