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Glute bridge exercises – 4 variations demonstrated

Sports physio Maryke Louw demonstrates glute bridge exercises, including the following glute bridge variations: double-leg glute bridge, offset glute bridge, marching glute bridge, and single-leg glute bridge. She also explains the benefits of glute bridges as well as glute bridge progressions once you have mastered the basic stuff. Remember, if you need help with an injury, you're welcome to consult one of our physios online via video call.


Learn how to do a glute bridge and what benefits they offer.

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Glute bridge benefits

 

The glute bridge is a compound exercise that strengthens your:

  • Back muscles (erector spinae and multifidus)

  • Stomach muscles (rectus abdominus and obliques)

  • Gluteal or buttock muscles (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus)

  • Hamstrings (back of thigh muscles).


The glute bridge strengthens the muscles in your back, glutes, hamstrings and core.

 

It can also help to actively stretch your hip flexor muscles (over the front of your hips):

  • Iliopsoas

  • Rectus femoris (one of the quadricep muscles).


Glute bridge mistakes

 

❌ Lifting too high (over-arching your back):

  • Overworks your back muscles and reduces your glute activation

  • Can cause back pain

  • Can strain your neck

👍How to fix it:

  • Focus on driving the movement by squeezing your buttock muscles rather than using your back.

  • Contracting your stomach muscles at the same time also helps – it’s impossible to over-arch your back with your stomach muscles contracted.



 ❌ Letting your hip drop when you lift a leg or do single-leg bridge exercises:

  • Can cause your back to strain

  • Means that you’re not strong enough to control the rotational force when supported on one leg

👍How to fix it:

  • Choose a slightly easier version of the bridge to work on first

  • Or concentrate on really tightening your glutes and core before lifting the leg and on keeping them contracted as you lift

  • Pressing your elbows and upper arms into the floor while doing the exercise activates your posterior chain (latissimus dorsi and glutes), which can increase your control



How many bridges should I do?

 

This will depend on whether you’re doing them as isometric bridges (where you hold the position for several seconds before resting) or simply lift up and down several times before resting (isotonic bridges).

 

Isometric bridges:

  • Start with short holds and more repetitions, e.g. 10-second holds x 10 repetitions.

  • Build up to longer holds and fewer repetitions, e.g. 30-second holds x 4 repetitions.

  • Rest between the repetitions for at least as long as you hold each contraction.

 

Isotonic bridges:

  • Do sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

  • Do 3 sets.

  • Rest 1 to 2 minutes between sets.

 

When you can easily perform the suggested dose with good form, it’s time to progress and make them a bit harder.



Glute bridge progressions (how to make them harder)

 

You can make each type of bridge harder by:

  • Placing a weight across your pelvis (works all the muscles harder)

  • Pulling an exercise band apart with your thighs while bridging (works glute med harder)

  • Holding the position for longer when doing isometric bridges

  • Doing more repetitions or sets

  • Or moving on to the next type of bridge in the list below.

 

Glute bridge variations

 

You can easily make the exercise harder or easier without the need for fancy equipment by adapting your glute bridge position. I've listed the progressions in order of increasing difficulty.

 

Make sure you master each type properly before moving on to the next.

 

1. Double-leg glute bridge

This is a good one to start with to learn proper bridging technique.


Double leg glute bridge


Instructions:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent 90 degrees.

  2. Tighten your tummy muscles.

  3. Squeeze with your glutes (not your back muscles) to lift up your hips – just to where they naturally stop.

  4. Come back down slowly.


Top tips:

  • Place your feet on a low step to work your glutes through a larger range of motion and/or if your hips don't want to go up very far.

  • If your hamstrings cramp, place your feet closer to your bum.

 

2. Offset glute bridge

This type of bridge allows you to work one leg slightly harder than the other. It helps to build the strength needed for single-leg bridges.


The offset bridge helps you build strength to move on to the single leg bridge.


Instructions:

  1. Lie with both knees bent to about 90 degrees. Then slide one foot slightly further away from your bum so that leg is a bit straighter.

  2. Tighten your stomach muscles and then squeeze your glutes to lift up into the bridge position. The leg that is more bent (foot closer to your bum) should be doing most of the work.

  3. Your hips must stay level.

  4. Pause for a moment at the top.

  5. Come back down slowly.

  6. Complete a full set with one leg closer to your bum.

  7. Rest for 60 seconds.

  8. Then repeat with the other foot closer to your bum.

  9. Do 3 sets on each leg (6 in total).


Top tip: If you find that your hips do dip to one side, don't come down right away; correct the position before you come down.

 

3. Marching glute bridge

Marching bridges help you to develop control, so you’re able to keep you back and pelvis stable when switching from double to single-leg support.


Marching glute bridge


Instructions:

  1. Go into the elevated double-leg glute bridge position (see instructions above).

  2. Check that you're squeezing your core and glutes.

  3. Lift one leg up, ensuring that your hips stay level and don't dip lower.

  4. Pause for a moment.

  5. Bring the leg down slowly.

  6. Repeat with the other leg.

  7. Do 10 to 16 repetitions (alternating legs).

  8. Rest 1 minute.

  9. Do 3 sets.


Top tips:

  • Press with your elbows into the floor for better stability.

  • Again, if your hips tilt or dip while a leg is lifted up, correct your form before bringing the leg down.

  • Take a brief rest between reps if you find that you're losing your form towards the end of a set.


4. Single-leg glute bridge

Doing glute bridges on one leg at a time ensures that you work each leg equally hard. It also requires good strength and control in your core muscles.


Single leg glute bridge


Instructions:

  1. Lie with your knees bent to 90 degrees and feet flat on the mat.

  2. Lift one leg towards you so that the thigh is tucked against your stomach.

  3. Tighten your stomach muscles and squeeze your glutes to lift you up.

  4. Keep your hips level, correcting your position if necessary before coming down.

  5. Complete a full set on one leg before switching legs.

  6. Rest 30 to 60 seconds between sets.


Top tips:

  • Press with your elbows into the floor for better stability.

  • If your hamstrings cramp, stretch them for a bit before continuing. It can also help to move your feet closer to your bum.


How we can help


Need help with an injury? You’re welcome to consult one of the team at SIP online via video call for an assessment of your injury and a tailored treatment plan.

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Maryke Louw

About the Author

Maryke Louw is a chartered physiotherapist with more than 20 years' experience and a Master’s Degree in Sports Injury Management. Follow her on LinkedIn and ResearchGate.



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