How to Do Single Leg Bridges: Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

The single leg bridge exercise is a great way to isolate and strengthen the hip extensors (glutes and hamstrings). Because it doesn't require equipment, this exercise fits into a lower body strength workout performed at the gym, at home, or even while traveling.

Also Known As: Unilateral bridge, single leg glute bridge

Targets: Glutes and hamstrings

Level: Beginner

How to Do the Single Leg Bridge

0:29

Watch Now: Single Leg Bridge Exercise for Butt and Core

Lie on your back with your hands by your sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor (under your knees). Lift one foot, extending the leg fully so it is roughly 45 degrees to the floor. This is the starting position.

  1. Raise your hips, tightening your abdominals and buttock muscles to support the lift, until your shoulders and knees are in a straight line. Squeeze your core at the same time, as if trying to pull your belly button back toward your spine.
  2. Hold this position for a count of one or two.
  3. Lower the hips to the floor slowly and with control to return to the starting position. The one leg remains extended, ready to do another repetition of this exercise.

Once you complete single leg bridges with one leg elevated and extended, perform this exercise with the other leg to avoid creating a muscle imbalance.

Benefits of a Single Leg Bridge

This exercise targets the hip extensors. This includes the three gluteal muscles (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus) and the hamstrings. Do it correctly and you'll even find that it is a powerful core strengthener.

The single leg bridge makes the list of the best butt exercises for athletes, especially those involved in explosive linear movements (soccer, football, etc.). It can also be used as a strength test, helping to assess whether athletes are at risk of a hamstring injury.

If you spend prolonged periods in a sitting position, this can cause your piriformis muscle to tighten, potentially leading to back pain. Strengthening the glutes—the gluteus medius, specifically—may reduce or resolve this pain.

In everyday life, strong hip extensors make it easier to walk, run, and jump. For people with hip osteoarthritis, strengthening the hip extensors can potentially improve mobility and physical function.

Other Variations of the Single Leg Bridge

The single leg bridge can be performed in different ways to match your level of fitness and your goals.

Two-Leg Bridge for Beginners

If you can't hold this position, begin with the basic bridge exercise to build strength and then progress to the one-leg bridge. In the basic bridge, you keep both feet on the ground while performing the hip lift. This exercise is a common rehabilitation exercise for spinal and core stabilization.

Bridge exercise

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Longer Hold

Instead of holding for a count of one or two when the hips are in a raised position, try to keep them elevated for a longer period of time. This places even more tension on the hip extensors while further engaging the core. Work up to 30-second holds before returning to the starting position.

Bridge March

The bridge march is a variation that starts as a two-leg bridge and ends with one leg supporting your lower body weight. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and arms folded across your chest. Your toes are slightly off the floor, placing the weight on your heels.

Next, raise your hips until your shoulders and knees are in a straight line. Lift the right leg until the lower leg is parallel to the floor. Hold for a count of one, then return the right foot to the floor. Keeping the hips raised, lift the left leg. Alternate legs for the remainder of the exercise.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors to prevent an injury and to get the most out of this exercise.

Arching Back

As you raise your hips, don't allow your back to arch. The lift needs to come from your glutes and not from the muscles in your back.

Sagging or Rotating Hips

Keep a straight line from your knee to your shoulders. The hips should not sag or be rotated.

To ensure your hips are level and flat, place your hands on your hips and check. If your hips drop, return the raised leg to the floor and do a double leg bridge until you become stronger.

Safety and Precautions

The bridge and its variations are often used in physical therapy. However, if you have any injuries to your neck, back, or ankle, talk to your doctor or therapist first to see if this exercise is appropriate for you.

Since this exercise is performed in a supine position, it may also be one to avoid during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. This is because the uterus presses on the vein that returns the blood to the heart in this position, causing your blood pressure to decrease.

New exercisers may want to perform one set of five to 10 reps to get used to this exercise and learn how to perform it with good form. As your strength increases, work your way up to three sets of eight to 12 reps.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

Was this page helpful?
7 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. Freckleton G, Cook J, Pizzari T. The predictive validity of a single leg bridge test for hamstring injuries in Australian Rules Football Players. British J Sports Med. 2014;48(8):675-6. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-093541

  2. Tobey K, Mike J. Single-leg glute bridge. Strength Cond J. 2018;40(2):110-4. doi:10.1519/SSC.0000000000000323

  3. Mondal M, Sarkar , Alam S, et al. Prevalence of piriformis tightness in healthy sedentary individuals: a cross-sectional study. Int J Health Sci Res. 2017;7(7):134-42.

  4. Ekinci S, Parlak A. Piriformis syndrome: a case with non-discogenic sciatalgia. Turk Neurosurg. 2014;24(1):117-9. doi:10.5137/1019.5149.JTN.7904-13.0

  5. Hall M, Wrigley T, Kasza J, et al. Cross-sectional association between muscle strength and self-reported physical function in 195 hip osteoarthritis patients. Seminars Arthr Rheumatism. 2017;46(4):387-94. doi:10.1016/j.semarthrit.2016.08.004

  6. Garcia-Vaquero M, Moreside J, Brontons-Gil E, Peco-Gonzalez N, Vera-Garcia F. Trunk muscle activation during stabilization exercises with single and double leg support. J Electromyog Kinesiol. 2012;22(3):398-406. doi:10.1016/j.jelekin.2012.02.017

  7. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Exercise during pregnancy: Frequently asked questions. Updated July 2019.