How Many Glute Bridges Should I Do For Solid Gains?

As a UESCA-Certified Running Coach and Personal Trainer, I work with a lot of runners and endurance athletes looking to supplement their training mileage with strength training.

I am a huge advocate of strength training for endurance athletes, and, of course, everyday individuals looking to be fit and strong. One of the most common weaknesses that I see in runners especially, but also people who sit most of the day for work, is weak glutes.

The glutes are powerful hip extensor muscles, but many fast runners, high mileage marathon runners, or otherwise “in shape“ individuals lack adequate glute strength.

Glute bridges can be a great exercise to strengthen the glutes. 

When planning your workout sessions you may wonder, how many glute bridges should I do to activate my glutes or build muscle in my glutes?

In this guide, we will discuss how to do glute bridges for leg workouts, variations to add to your lower-body workouts, and ultimately answer your question, how many glute bridges should I do for my fitness level?

Let’s dive in!

A person doing a glute bridge.

How Do You Do Glute Bridges?

Before we look at how many glute bridge reps you should do based on your fitness goals, let’s cover how to perform glute bridges.

The glute bridge exercise is a classic bodyweight glute exercise.

It involves lying on your back as if you were going to perform abdominal crunches and then squeezing your glutes and pressing through your heels to lift your hips up off the floor.

Here are the steps to perform a glute bridge:

How To Perform A Glute Bridge

  1. Lie on your back. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor hip-width apart as if preparing to do abdominal crunches. 
  2. Cross your arms over your chest. If you need extra stability, you can place your arms at your sides on the floor next to your hips. Keep your spine neutral and your head on the floor. Engage your abs so that you are pelvis and lower back are not arching up off of the floor.
  3. Engage your glutes as you press through your heels to lift your hips up until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulder blades.
  4. Pause at the top position for 2-3 seconds, flexing your glute muscles.
  5. Slowly lower your butt back without fully touching down before pressing back up into the next glute bridge rep. Beginners can rest in between each rep with a full touchdown, but if you are trying to do glute bridges to increase muscular endurance in your butt muscles, do not fully allow your hips to rest on the floor in between reps.

Variations of Glute Bridges

There are several ways to modify glute bridges as you get stronger.

It’s not particularly easy to add weight to glute bridges, but you can put a weight plate or dumbbells on your upper thighs just below the hip crease (but hold onto them because they won’t stay put!).

You can also elevate your feet up onto a step or short box. This will give you a greater range of motion to work your glutes.

#1: Single-Leg Bridges

The simplest way to advance bodyweight glute bridges is to perform single-leg glute bridges.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, one foot flat on the floor, and one up in the air.
  2. Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up all the way until they are in line with your body from your knees to your head.
  3. Hold and squeeze for one breath then slowly lower.
  4. Repeat 15 times and then switch sides.

One of my favorite ways to progress glute bridges for advanced athletes is to do single-leg glute bridges with the one stabilizing foot on a medicine ball rather than the floor.

Because the medicine ball wants to roll, you have to engage your glutes and core muscles even more to stabilize the hips as you press your hips up and lower back down.

#2: Frog Bridges

The glute bridge is indeed an effective exercise for the gluteus maximus, but it does little to specifically activate the gluteus medius and minimus

This bodyweight glutes exercise targets all three major muscles of the glutes and the position (albeit somewhat awkward at first) makes it easier to help activate your glutes.

Here are the steps for performing this bodyweight glute bridge exercise:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor as if you were going to do a standard glute bridge or abdominal crunch. Place just your upper arm on the ground, with your elbows bent and arms straight up into the air.
  2. Then, drop your knees out to the sides and rotate your lower legs, ankles, and feet so that you place the soles of your feet together. Essentially, your legs should be in the butterfly stretch position as if you are going to stretch your groin. Beginners should start with their feet further away from the crotch. If you have better hip mobility, you can bring your heels in closer to your groin.
  3. Keeping your knees opened wide apart, contract your glutes to lift your hips off of the floor, using your elbows for support (and a little lift assistance if you have weak glutes).
  4. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can in the top position for 3-5 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower back down before beginning the next rep.

If you are feeling the exercise more in your hips than in your glutes, try bringing your feet further away from your crotch.

A single leg glute bridge.

How Many Glute Bridges Should I Do For Solid Gains?

When structuring a strength training workout, the number of reps of an exercise that you do is only one part of the programming of the exercise into the workout.

The other components of training volume to consider are the number of sets and the weight that you are lifting, also known as the load.

With glute bridge workouts, this is a little more difficult since glute bridges are typically performed as a bodyweight exercise and most advanced athletes aren’t able to load the glute bridge with enough weight to necessarily reach the normal recommendations for strength and hypertrophy.

In these cases, progressing to barbell hip thrusts tends to be a better route for strengthening the glutes or increasing muscle mass if you find that even single-leg glute bridges with a reasonable weight plate or dumbbell are not challenging enough to reach the recommended loads based on your training goal.

Based on the average guidelines from the American Council on Exercise (ACE)1How Many Reps Should You Be Doing? (n.d.). Www.acefitness.org. https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/5867/how-many-reps-should-you-be-doing/ and the National Strength and Conditioning Association,2Sands, W., Wurth, J., & Hewit, J. (2012). The National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) BASICS OF STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING MANUAL. https://www.nsca.com/contentassets/116c55d64e1343d2b264e05aaf158a91/basics_of_strength_and_conditioning_manual.pdf the following are some recommendations for how many glute bridge reps to do based on your training goal and fitness level:

A person doing a glute bridge.

How Many Glute Bridges Should I Do As A Beginner?

A good starting place for beginners is two sets of 10-12 reps of glute bridges.

Build up to three sets. Once you can do 10 to 12 reps, you can progress to single-leg glute bridges.3Iversen, V. M., Norum, M., Schoenfeld, B. J., & Fimland, M. S. (2021). No Time to Lift? Designing Time-Efficient Training Programs for Strength and Hypertrophy: A Narrative Review. Sports Medicine51(10). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-021-01490-1

How Many Glute Bridges Should I Do To Increase Strength?

If your goal is to increase strength with glute bridges, add a weight that corresponds to at least 85% of your 1RM, or a weight that you could manage for just 4 to 6 reps with proper form.

Aim for 4 to 6 sets with at least 90 seconds of rest in between sets.4de Salles, B. F., Simão, R., Miranda, F., Novaes, J. da S., Lemos, A., & Willardson, J. M. (2009). Rest interval between sets in strength training. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.)39(9), 765–777.

A person doing a glute bridge.

How Many Glute Bridges Should I Do To Build Muscle?

If you are doing glute bridges to build muscle, do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps.5Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2018). Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise51(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0000000000001764

Use enough weight that you can manage all of your reps but that you feel fatigued by the last 1-2 reps of every set.

Here again, you will likely need to add external weight on top of your thighs and/or perform single-leg glute bridges to make the exercise challenging enough that you are reaching fatigue by the end of the recommended rep range for hypertrophy.

How Many Glute Bridges Should I Do For Muscular Endurance?

To increase muscular endurance, perform at least three sets of at least 15-20 reps with no more than 60 seconds of rest in between each set.

If you are mostly interested in how many glute bridges you should do to build muscle, check out our muscle-building guide here.

A hip thrust.

References

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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