Put the "Glute" Back Into Your Glute Bridge
Glute bridges are a fantastic exercise. They are a great movement to utilize when teaching the hip hinge, they are a great exercise to strengthen hip extension, and they are relatively gentle, making them appropriate for most beginners.
However, if performed incorrectly, it can be incredibly difficult to achieve any of the benefits listed above. Incorrect execution can also cause discomfort in the lower back, which is the opposite intent of this exercise! Listed below are some of the most common mistakes I see in gym-goers/new clients when attempting the bridge.
1. Hyper-extension of the Lumbar Spine (lower back)
2. Pushing Through Your Toes
3. Rising of the Chest
3. Feet Too Close (or too far) From the Body
4. Going Way Too Fast
Now, while all of these tendencies can cause temporary discomfort, they are pretty easy to fix with a few simple cues and alterations in the starting position. Listed below are some simple tips that can help improve the performance of this exercise, and ultimately put the “glute” back into your glute bridge.
Get Your Back Flat
Beginning in a relaxed or slightly arched position sets you up to bridge into a more exaggerated position that you’re already in. Before you even lift your hips off of the ground, try to flatten your back onto the ground. You will feel your center light up, also known as an abdominal brace, and it will get you in a good position to push your hips off the floor using the back of your legs, NOT your lower back.
2. Push Through Your Heels
Now IT IS is possible to perform the bridge on your toes, but if you are a beginner or having trouble “feeling it” where you’re supposed to, I advise pushing through the heels.This makes it much easier to engage the glutes and hamstrings, and it can help eliminate feeling pressure in the knees.
3. Keep Your Chest Heavy
When you lift your hips up, try not to lift your chest with the movement. Imagine that your sternum is anchored to the ground, and only lift the hips as high as the GLUTES can SQUEEZE. Higher is not better in the bridge, so there is no need to the entire back up like a gymnast. Keep that back flat and keep the work in the hips.
4. Get Your Feet in an Optimal Position
Feet too close to your hips can make it feel nearly impossible to lift the hips off the ground. Feet too far from the body can light the hamstrings up and make it harder to maintain a good starting position. Find that “spot” where you can comfortably lie the feet flat, but be able to lift your toes off of the floor.
5. Slow Down
This may seem entirely too simple, but it is very important to establish control of any movement, especially if it is new to you or your client. “Going through the motions” and trying to speed through the exercise because you know it burns is an easy way to fall out of a proper position and lose control of the exercise. Take your time and ensure that you’re feeling the bridge where you’re supposed to be feeling it. Think about all of the points listed above as you slowly move through the exercise. If things don’t feel right, re-access, re-approach, and move with intent!
While this exercise can seem simple, it still needs to be approached with precision, control, and intent to be performed properly! Use these tips the next time you add bridges into your workout. They are great to use as a warm up, a primer for bigger compound movements, or even as a finished on lower body days.