The Basic Bridge Exercise for a Better Butt

Build Core Stability With the Bridge

basic bridge exercise
Photo: Ben Goldstein / Model: Melissa Castro Schmidt

The bridge exercise is a great way to isolate and strengthen the gluteus (butt) muscles and hamstrings (back of the thigh). If you do this exercise correctly, you also will find that it is a good core stability and strength exercise that targets the abdominal muscles as well as the muscles of lower back and hip. It's also known as the hip raise.

The bridge exercise is considered a basic rehab exercise to improve core and spinal stabilization. It's considered to be a safe exercise for those with back issues. If you sit all day, as many people do with a sedentary job, waking up your posterior chain can help with posture. It's a good warm-up exercise as well.


Watch Now: The Basic Bridge Exercise for a Better Butt

Muscles Worked

The target muscle is the erector spinae, which runs the length of your back from neck to tailbone. But this exercise also stretches and works the stabilizers of the posterior chain, including the hip abductors, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings. The antagonist stabilizers for the bridge are the rectus abdominis and the obliques. Even the quadriceps will be involved to maintain stability.

What You Need

You will want to do this exercise on a mat rather than a hard surface. There is no equipment required for the bridge, although as you progress you can add an exercise band, dumbbell, or exercise ball to increase the difficulty.

How to Do the Bridge Exercise

  1. Lie on your back with your hands by your sides, your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Make sure your feet are under your knees.
  3. Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles.
  4. Raise your hips up to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
  5. Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine.
  6. If your hips sag or drop, lower yourself back on the floor.
  7. The goal is to maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your knees and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. You may need to begin by holding the bridge position for a few seconds as you build your strength. It's better to hold the correct position for a shorter time than to go longer in the incorrect position.
  8. Aim for 10 repetitions and two sets.

Tips for the Bridge

  • Avoid raising your hips too high as that could hyperextend your lower back. If you keep your abdominals engaged, you shouldn't arch your back excessively.
  • If you have knee discomfort or difficulty bending your knee at 90 degrees, you can place your feet farther away to begin the bridge.
  • If you can't raise your hips more than a little at first, that is still good. Simply raise them a few inches to activate the muscles. As you continue to do the bridge, you will gain more strength and be able to lift further.

Progression and Variations

If you find the basic bridge exercise too easy, you may want to move up to these variations:

  • One-leg bridge exercise.
  • Weighted bridge holding a dumbbell or padded weight across your hips.
  • Banded bridge using an exercise band held in each hand and crossing over your hips to provide resistance.
  • Elevated bridge: Place your feet on a medicine ball or an exercise ball.
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