The Glute Bridge Exercise Explained + 6 Variations To try

The glute bridge is a fantastic exercise to help combat our often weak glute and core muscles as it works our gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and transverse abdominis. 

This guide will look at the fundamentals of a glute bridge, how to do it properly, its benefits, and six different variations you can try out in your strength training sessions.

A person doing a glute bridge.

How To Do A Glute Bridge 

Here are the step-by-step instructions to perform a basic glute bridge:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor at hip-width apart and your arms by your sides.  
  2. Squeeze your glutes, engage your core and lift your hips up toward the ceiling as far as you can without arching your back. You want your body to be in a straight line from knees to shoulders. 
  3. Continue to squeeze your glutes and hold this bridge position for a second or two.
  4. Slowly lower your hips down to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

Benefits of The Glute Bridge

Adding glute bridges into your strength training workouts provides a lot of benefits, including: 

  • Building stability in the core 
  • Improving strength in the glutes, which aids in increased athletic performance and ease in performing day-to-day activities
  • Helps reduce lower back pain and the risk of injury 
  • Activates the glutes, muscles that are usually “sleepy” and under-stimulated

6 Glute Bridge Variations 

As with most exercises, there are a great number of variations to the glute bridge. The variations increase difficulty, slightly adjust the muscles used, and, most importantly, spice up your training.

For most of our glute bridge variations, you can count repetitions or perform the exercises in an isometric manner that is time-based.

An isometric exercise is, essentially, a static hold.

Instead of counting repetitions by extending and flexing joints, you contract your muscles and stay in the same position. These exercises are especially beneficial for those coming off of an injury who want to gain strength but limit any specific joint movement. 

Try holding the position for anywhere between 20-60 seconds for 3 reps.

Ready? Let’s check out our six favorite variations:

#1: Glute Bridge (On Heels)

Instead of placing your feet flat on the floor, you can put just your heels on the floor for any of the glute bridge variations we will show you today.

This will give a bit of a boost to the muscle activation you will feel in your glutes and hamstrings.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, heels on the floor at about hip-width apart, and your arms by your sides.  
  2. Squeeze your glutes, engage your core and lift your hips up toward the ceiling as far as you can without arching your back. You want your body to be in a straight line from knees to shoulders. 
  3. Continue to squeeze your glutes and hold this bridge position for a second or two.
  4. Slowly lower your hips down to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

#2: Resistance Band Glute Bridge

For this glute bridge variation, you will need a mini resistance band. Mini bands come in a variety of resistance weights, so choose one that you will be able to perform the glute bridge with without faltering on proper form and technique. 

The added challenge with the resistance band glute bridge is that you will now need to work your gluteus medius as well as your gluteus Maximus.

The mini band will try to push your knees inward, and you must constantly push against the mini band’s resistance to keep your knees in position. 

  1. Place a mini resistance band just above your knees. 
  2. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, heels about 6 inches from your glutes, and your arms by your sides.  
  3. Squeeze your glutes, engage your core and lift your hips up toward the ceiling as far as you can without arching your back. You want your body to be in a straight line from knees to shoulders. 
  4. Continue to squeeze your glutes and hold this bridge position for two seconds.
  5. Slowly lower your hips down to the starting position. 
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

#3: Weighted Glute Bridge 

For the weighted glute bridge, you will need a dumbbell or kettlebell to add resistance. This variation will increase the difficulty as you must extend your hips with added weight.

This variation is excellent if your focus is on gaining strength.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Hold a dumbbell between your hands and position it in the center of your hips.
  3. Squeeze your glutes, engage your core and lift your hips up toward the ceiling as far as you can without arching your back. You want your body to be in a straight line from knees to shoulders.
  4. Continue to squeeze your glutes and hold this bridge position for a second or two.
  5. Slowly lower your hips down to the starting position. 
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

#4: Single-Leg Glute Bridge 

Now we are really dialing up the difficulty with this unilateral exercise and suspending one of our legs in the air as we perform this glute bridge variation.

A unilateral exercise is when you work just one side at a time, which is excellent for fixing muscle imbalances, as the other side can’t help out by overcompensating for the weaker side.

It is also a great way to work your stability, as you need to work harder to keep your body aligned and not lose your balance. 

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor (or up on your heels), hip-width apart, and arms at your sides.
  2. Lift your left leg and extend it, so it is parallel to your right thigh. 
  3. Engage your core and lift your hips up off the ground, aligning with your right knee. 
  4. Hold this position for a second or two, activating your glutes and keeping your hips aligned.
  5. Lower your hips to the starting position. 
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps. 
  7. Repeat on the other side.

#5: Glute Bridge March 

Now for a twist on our single-leg glute bridge. 

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor (or up on your heels) hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  2. Squeeze your glutes, engage your core and lift your hips up toward the ceiling as far as you can without arching your back. You want your body to be in a straight line from knees to shoulders.
  3. Keeping your knee bent, lift your left leg off the floor until the lower half of your left leg is parallel to the floor. 
  4. Bring your left foot back to its starting position.
  5. Do the same movement with your right leg.
  6. Continue “marching” for the desired number of reps or amount of time. 

#6: Bodyweight Hip Thrust

The slight difference between a hip thrust and a glute bridge is the position of the exercise. The movement, however, is very similar.

We will look at the bodyweight version of this exercise, but it’s important to note that hip thrusts are a great exercise to add weight to, such as a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell, just like we did in our weighted glute bridge. 

The position of a hip thrust uses a bench or plyo box, where you will place your upper back. Performing the movement from this position will also increase hip flexion and make it a bit more of a challenge because you have a longer way to go when extending your hips. 

  1. Place the bench or plyo box behind you. 
  2. Sit on the floor and place your upper back or the center of your shoulder blades against the bench or plyo box. 
  3. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor at hip-width apart. 
  4. Squeeze your glutes, engage your core and lift your hips up toward the ceiling until your hips are fully extended. Make sure your neck is relaxed and does not strain with the movement. Let your gaze move naturally with the hip extension.
  5. Continue to squeeze your glutes and hold this bridge position for a second or two.
  6. Slowly lower your hips down to the starting position. 
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

There you have it! Six great glute bridge variations to work into your strength training routine! 

The Glute Bridge Exercise Explained + 6 Variations To try 1

For more exercise guides with step-by-step instructions and animated gifs and videos, check out our:

Planks Variations 

Squat Variations 

Lunge Variations

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Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community she is known for her ear to ear smile even under the toughest race conditions. She loves sharing her knowledge and experience with everyone and has a great desire to motivate others to hit the trails alongside her. Run for fun!

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