The glute bridge exercise is a versatile, challenging, and effective exercise. It’s an excellent addition to any workout routine, regardless of your age or fitness level. This workout move targets the back of your legs, or posterior chain. The prime movers in your posterior chain include your hamstrings and glutes.

These powerful muscles span your backside and are responsible for producing the majority of the power that your lower body generates. Because they are so powerful, they require a lot of energy to operate. In other words, you burn a hefty dose of calories when you include them in aerobic exercises such as running and biking. This may appeal to those that aspire to achieve fitness goals like gaining strength, losing weight, or trimming up.

Strengthening your posterior chain plays a role in increasing your lower back strength and core stability. When performing correctly with good form, the glute bridge can help improve the vitality of muscles surrounding your spinal column, which improves your posture.

This move requires no equipment and very little space. All you need is a space to lie down. It’s also a low-impact move, making it ideal for those with knee or hip discomfort.

Legs pointed outward

This variation of the traditional glute bridge is a great way to target the outside of your thighs and glutes.

Equipment needed: No equipment needed. Yoga mat optional to minimize back discomfort.

Muscles worked: This variation primarily targets your iliotibial tract and vastus lateralis.

Image source: Model is <a href="http://www.activebodycreativemind.com/">Amy Crandall</a>

  1. Start flat on your back with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle and feet placed flat on the ground.
  2. Make sure your toes are turned outward at 45-degree angles and your knees are facing in the same direction as your toes.
  3. Drive down through your feet and push your hips up. You should feel this variation fatiguing the outer portion of your thighs.
  4. Make sure you keep your knees over your toes throughout the entire movement. Don’t let them move forward over the toes.
  5. In a controlled motion, let your hips sink back down toward the ground. This completes 1 repetition.
  6. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions, or 3 rounds of a 30-second hold.

Legs pointed forward

Pointing your legs straight forward and keeping your knees close together helps target the inside of your thighs and the glute muscles along your midline.

Equipment needed: No equipment needed. Yoga mat optional to minimize back discomfort.

Muscles worked: This variation primarily targets your adductor longus, gracilis, adductor magnus, and sartorius.

Image source: Model is <a href="http://www.activebodycreativemind.com/">Amy Crandall</a>

  1. Start flat on your back with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle and feet placed flat on the ground.
  2. Make sure your toes are pointed straight forward and your thighs are parallel to each other.
  3. Drive down through your feet and push your hips up. You should feel this variation fatiguing the inside of your thighs.
  4. Make sure you keep your knees over your toes throughout the entire movement.
  5. In a controlled motion, let your hips sink back down towards the ground. This completes 1 repetition.
  6. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions, or 3 rounds of a 30-second hold.

Press through the heels

Focusing on pressing through your heels as you elevate your hips will isolate your glute muscles and hamstring muscles the most, versus pressing down through your toes.

Equipment needed: No equipment needed. Yoga mat optional to minimize back discomfort.

Muscles worked: This variation primarily targets your biceps femoris, semitendinosis, gracilis, gluteus maximus, and gluteus medius.

Image source: Model is <a href="http://www.activebodycreativemind.com/">Amy Crandall</a>

  1. Start flat on your back with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle and feet placed flat on the ground.
  2. Drive your weight downward through your heels and elevate your hips.
  3. You should feel this variation fatiguing the back of your legs and glutes.
  4. To make sure you are targeting the posterior portion of your thighs, bring your toes off of the ground as you drive up.
  5. In a controlled motion, let your hips sink back down toward the ground. This completes 1 repetition.
  6. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions, or 3 rounds of a 30-second hold.

Press through the toes

Driving your weight down through your toes will force your quadricep muscles to do more work. It’s a good idea to alternate driving your weight through your heels and toes, so that the anterior and posterior portions of your thighs both get exhausted.

Equipment needed: No equipment needed. Yoga mat optional to minimize back discomfort.

Muscles worked: This variation primarily targets your rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medius, and sartorius.

Image source: Model is <a href="http://www.activebodycreativemind.com/">Amy Crandall</a>

  1. Start flat on your back with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle and feet placed flat on the ground.
  2. Lift your heels, drive your weight downward through your toes, and elevate your hips.
  3. To make sure you are targeting the posterior portion of your thighs, bring your toes off of the ground as you drive up.
  4. In a controlled motion, let your hips sink back down toward the ground. This completes 1 repetition.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions, or 3 rounds of a 30-second hold.

One-legged glute bridge

Altering the glute bridge so that you’re only working one leg at a time is a great way to work on the individual strength of each leg and your core stability.

Equipment needed: No equipment needed. Yoga mat optional to minimize back discomfort.

Muscles worked: Depending on how you place your feet, this move can target any desired muscle of the thigh or glute.

Image source: Model is <a href="http://www.activebodycreativemind.com/">Amy Crandall</a>

  1. Start flat on your back with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle and feet placed flat on the ground. Raise 1 leg off the ground straight up in the air.
  2. Drive your weight downward through the leg on the floor.
  3. Work to keep your hips squared. You should feel this variation fatiguing your entire thigh and buttocks.
  4. In a controlled motion, let your hips sink back down toward the ground. This completes 1 repetition.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions, or 3 rounds of a 30-second hold.

Take it to the next level

You can elevate the difficulty of any glute bridge variation by simply placing a weight on your hips. This will help you work on your glute and hamstring strength as well as tone them up.

  1. Start flat on your back with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Rest your weight firmly against your pelvic bones, holding it in place.
  3. Adjust the weight and reps as necessary if it’s too challenging to press your hips upward.

Quick pointers for all glute bridge variations

If you’re new to the glute bridge, here are some additional pointers:

  • Begin the movement flat on your back with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle and feet flat on the ground.
  • Keep your core stabilized and engaged, clenching your abdominal muscles.
  • Drive your weight down through your feet in order to elevate your hips.
  • At the top of the movement, your shoulders, hips, and knees should be in a straight line.
  • You can either hold this top position for a given period of time, or you can perform back-to-back repetitions of elevating your hips.
  • Be sure to keep your back and core tight throughout the entire movement.
  • Focus on squeezing your buttocks and keeping your knees and toes in the same line.
  • If you feel your form suffering, take a break and recuperate so that you can regain your strength and perform it correctly.

The takeaway

The quickest route to boredom with your fitness routine is to do the same thing every day.

Adding a twist to a basic exercise move like the glute bridge is a great way to engage different muscles and keep your brain and body guessing. You can expect to feel some soreness in new spots on your body, as you are using new muscles to perform these variations.