On the surface, spending most of the day sitting still doesn’t seem to put any stress on the body. But the truth is that inactivity takes a heavy toll. It can particularly affect the glutes, causing muscle weakness or imbalance.
If you want to show some love in your butt muscles, bridge exercises can be especially effective. “Bridge exercises work the hamstrings, lower back, core, and buttocks,” he says. Megan Morey, Personal trainer and yoga instructor. These exercises can also be beneficial for anyone who wants to strengthen their lower back or increase hip mobility.
“If you are a runner, bridge exercise is great to include in your training program because it will increase the strength of your butt muscles, which means more power in your running stride. The strong adhesives also help support your back while you run,” Morey says.
Obviously, there are many reasons why bridge exercises are beneficial. But how do you do them? Here, personal trainers share the best way to try them out safely as well as offer different forms.
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How to do the bridge exercise
Below, personal trainer, yoga and Pilates teacher, and health coach Bernadette Hensel He shares the steps on how to properly do the basic bridge exercise:
1. Lie on a mat with your legs bent and feet hip-width apart.
2. Look at the ceiling and place your hands flat on the mat next to your hips.
3. Tighten the abdominal muscles and raise the hips while pressing the glutes. Avoid excessive back extension and don’t let the knees collapse.
4. Do 15 to 30 reps, depending on your fitness level.
Watch a video on how to do the bridge exercise below:
(scroll to continue reading)
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Bridge exercise variations
The basic bridge exercise can be its own exercise; Morey recommends doing three to four sets, resting between sets. You can also combine some of the differences, like the ones below:
1. Bridge exercises with yoga block
To really make sure your core and inner thighs are occupied the whole time, Henzsel says to grab a yoga block and place it between your knees. The abdominal and thigh muscles must be activated to keep the mass in place, or else it will fall off.
2. Lifting the bridge by foot
Morey says another way to alternate the standard bridge exercise is to raise your feet on an elevated surface, such as a couch or chair. This is another way to activate the muscles of the buttocks, thighs, and abdomen. When doing the raised bridge exercise, make sure your weight is still in your heels. This will help keep your body stable.
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3. Weighted bridge exercises
If standard bridge exercise isn’t a challenge for you, both experts recommend gaining weight. Put the weight on your hips and move through the exercise as usual. Weight adds resistance, making movement more difficult.
4. One-leg bridge exercise
Another way to make the standard bridge exercise more difficult, Morey says, is to raise one leg in the air while moving through it. This forces the nucleus to engage more. Don’t forget to switch sides, and raise your other leg, to keep the exercise even.
5. Straight leg bridge exercise
“performance [with] Morey says that straight legs rather than bent knees present a greater challenge. To do this, lie on your back with your legs straight in front of you, hip-width apart. Then raise your hips. You’ll find that the hamstrings and core have to work harder than if the legs were bent at the knees. If straight legs are too difficult, you can bend your knees slightly to do an exercise located between the standard bridge and the straight leg bridge.
“Bridge exercise can really help with standing and everyday movement, and it can help strengthen your torso and back,” Morey says. While everyone can try bridge exercises, Henzel and Morey say pregnant women in their second trimester or later should skip it. Anyone with pain in the back, abdomen, hip joints, knees, or ankles should avoid bridge exercises.
Overall, bridge exercises are a great way to help undo the damage that sitting all day can cause. (Although it’s still important to move your body in other ways, too.) Doing them regularly keeps your abs, buttocks, thighs, and hamstrings strong. The best part? It can be done anywhere without equipment. That’s a lot of perks from a single exercise move!
Next, see what 12 coaches say is their favorite exercise for weight loss.
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