At first, the humble glute bridge looks pretty basic, and many of us choose to forgo this simple exercise in favour of more complicated, “flashier” moves. Runners who opt not to do them are missing out, because despite their simplicity, they’re some of the best moves to stretch your hips, activate and strengthen your glutes and core and prevent or alleviate lower back pain. Check out these variations on the classic hip bridge, and add them into your strength-training routine to reap the benefits.
Glute bridge hold
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted firmly on the ground, hip-width apart. Your heels should be just close enough to your butt that you can graze them with your fingertips when your arms are extended. Contract your lower abs (imagine you’re pulling your belly button toward your spine), squeeze your glutes, and drive your hips into the air until you form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds, then rest. Repeat three to four times. To make it more challenging, cross your arms over your chest, or extend them straight into the air in front of you. Alternatively, you could place your feet on an unstable surface, like an upside-down bosu ball, to decrease stability and make it more difficult.
Single-leg glute bridge
Begin in the same position as the regular glute bridge, only this time, extend one leg straight out, keeping it in line with the leg that’s still planted on the ground. Squeeze your abs and glutes and drive your hips into the air, trying not to let them to drop to one side. Pause briefly at the top, then lower back down to the starting position.
Banded glute bridge
Perform a regular glute bridge, only this time wrap an exercise band around your thighs. As you’re doing your bridges, try not to let the band draw your knees inward (this will work your gluteus medius muscles).
Elevated glute bridge
Perform this move the same way you do a regular glute bridge, only this time place your feet on an elevated surface, like a step, bench or exercise ball. The higher the surface, the harder the challenge. You can also do this variation one leg at a time.
Side abduction glute bridge
Start in your usual starting position, only this time put your feet together. Squeeze your abs and glutes and lift your hips into the air. Once you’re in the top position, squeeze the sides of your glutes to push your knees outward, then return to the centre. Lower back down and repeat. You can make this harder by placing a resistance band around your knees.
Straight leg glute bridge
With your feet elevated, place your weight in your heels with your toes pointing upward. Extend your legs out straight, tighten your abs and glutes and drive your hips into the air. Slowly lower back down until you’re back in the starting position. This will also target your hamstrings.
Bridge and curl
Place sliders, two small towels (if you’re on a hard surface) or two thick pieces of paper under your heels. Lie on your back with your legs extended straight out and your arms on the ground beside you. Squeeze your abs and glutes and pull your feet toward your butt while you drive your hips into the air. Slowly lower back down to the starting position, sliding your feet back out until your legs are extended.