How to Do the Bridge Exercise: Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Also Known As: Hip raise, glute bridge

Targets: Glutes, abs, and hamstrings

Equipment Needed: Mat, if desired

Level: Beginner

The bridge exercise strengthens your glutes (butt) and hamstrings (back of the thigh) while enhancing core stability. It's easy to add into a strength training workout, can be used as a warm-up, and is even a good rehab exercise for improving core and spinal stabilization.

Basic Bridge Exercise
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

How to Do the Bridge Exercise


Watch Now: The Basic Bridge Exercise for a Better Butt

Find an open space on the floor and lie on your back, using a mat if you have one. Rest your hands at your sides, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor, beneath your knees.

  1. Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles by pushing your low back into the ground.
  2. Raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  3. Squeeze your core and pull your belly button back toward your spine.
  4. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Lower the hips to return to the starting position.

Benefits of the Bridge Exercise

If you're looking for a move to add to your strength routine that works your core and butt, the basic bridge is a great place to start. This exercise also helps strengthen the erector spinae, which runs the length of your back from your neck to your tailbone.

A basic bridge stretches the stabilizers of the posterior chain, including your hip abductors, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings. As antagonist stabilizers for the bridge move, the rectus abdominis, obliques, and quadriceps get a workout as they maintain stability.

Like many full-body and core stretching exercises the therapeutic effects of bridge exercises can be enhanced by the use of workout sandbags, especially in the case of more rarely used muscles.

Your power and strength will generally improve as these muscle groups get stronger. A strong core will also improve your posture and can help ease lower back pain. In fact, as long as you have good form, bridge exercises are generally safe for people with chronic back problems and can even aid in pain management.

Other Variations of the Bridge Exercise

There are a few different ways to do a bridge exercise, depending on your fitness level and exercise goals.

Elevated Feet

If you'd prefer to do the basic bridge with some support under your feet, try the elevated bridge. For this variation, you'll need an inflatable exercise ball.

  1. Begin in the starting position for the basic bridge with the exercise ball at your feet.
  2. Place your heels on the top of the ball.
  3. Raise your pelvis as you would in the basic bridge.
  4. Keep your core engaged throughout the movement.

We've tried, tested, and reviewed the best exercise balls. If you're in the market for an exercise ball, explore which option may be best for you.

Straightened Legs

Another version is the straight-legged bridge. While performing the bridge with straight legs rather than bent knees is usually a challenge, adding in an exercise ball to support your legs can actually make it a bit easier.

Remember to keep your abdomen engaged and your arms at your sides to support your weight and prevent back strain.

Single-Leg Bridge

If you want to take the basic bridge up a level, try the single-leg bridge—either with or without an exercise ball. This option better activates your trunk muscles.

  1. Begin in the starting position for a basic bridge.
  2. Raise your left leg as you raise your pelvis up.
  3. Hold, then lower your hips back down to the floor, keeping the leg raised.
  4. Switch to the right side.

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Single-Leg Bridge Exercise With Lowered Leg

This exercise adds even more intensity to the single-leg bridge by incorporating leg movement while the pelvis is in the raised position.

  1. Begin in the starting position for a basic bridge.
  2. Raise your left leg as you raise your pelvis up.
  3. Lower the left leg until it's almost touching the floor, while keeping the pelvis in the raised position.
  4. Lift the leg back up and hold before lowering your hips back down to the floor.
  5. Switch to the right side.

Bridge March

If you're getting bored with the basic move and have mastered the single-leg bridge, try the bridge march next.

  1. Begin in the starting position for a basic bridge.
  2. As you raise your pelvis up, lift your left leg, bringing your knee close to your core.
  3. Lower your left leg back down, then raise your right leg, bringing your knee to your abs.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these postural issues when performing a basic bridge.

Raising Your Hips Too High

Avoid raising your hips too high, as hyperextending your lower back can lead to strain. Keeping your abdominals engaged will ensure you don't arch your back excessively.

Allowing the Hips to Sag

If you find your hips are dropping as you try to hold the bridge position, lower your pelvis back down to the floor. When you're first starting out, you may need to hold the bridge position for only a few seconds at a time until you build up strength.

Safety and Precautions

If you have certain health conditions or injuries or are recovering from illness or surgery, you may need to avoid exercises that work your core, knees, lower back, or glutes until you've healed. It's best to avoid bridge exercises if you:

  • Are in the final stages of pregnancy, have just delivered, or have a condition known as diastasis recti
  • Are healing from surgery or an injury involving your back, abdomen, pelvis, hip joints, knees, or ankles
  • Have an abdominal hernia or another condition related to the muscles and tissue in your abdomen

Check with your doctor before you start a workout or add moves like bridges to your current routine. Stop if you feel pain in your lower back or hips. While you may experience a burning sensation with first starting a new exercise, doing a bridge should not hurt.

If you're new to exercise, begin with 10 reps. As you get stronger, aim to work up to three sets of 25 reps. When doing a more difficult modification, two sets of 15 reps each can help you work the muscles harder without damaging them.

Try It Out

Try the basic bridge with other strength training exercises such as:

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Yoon JO, Kang MH, Kim JS, Oh JS. Effect of modified bridge exercise on trunk muscle activity in healthy adults: a cross sectional studyBraz J Phys Ther. 2018;22(2):161-167. doi:10.1016/j.bjpt.2017.09.005

  2. Yoon JO, Kang MH, Kim JS, Oh JS. Effect of modified bridge exercise on trunk muscle activity in healthy adults: a cross sectional study. Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy. 2018;22(2):161-167. doi:10.1016%2Fj.bjpt.2017.09.005

  3. Santos MS, Behm DG, Barbado D, DeSantana JM, Da Silva-Grigoletto ME. Core endurance relationships with athletic and functional performance in inactive people. Front Physiol. 2019;10. doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.01490

  4. Chang WD, Lin HY, Lai PT. Core strength training for patients with chronic low back painJ Phys Ther Sci. 2015;27(3):619-622. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.619

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.