How to Do the Single Leg Bridge

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

single leg bridge annotated

Ben Goldstein / Verywell 

Also Known As: Unilateral bridge

Targets: Gluteus maximus, hamstrings

Level: Beginner

The single leg bridge exercise is a great way to isolate and strengthen the gluteus (butt) muscles and hamstrings (back of the upper leg). If you do this exercise correctly, you will also find that it is a very powerful core strengthening technique. Add this exercise to your regular workout routine to wake up and tone your buttocks.


Athletes need strong butt muscles for running and jumping. The single leg bridge makes the list of the best butt exercises for athletes. It's considered to be a good toning exercise to sculpt your buttocks. Even if you're not competing, everyone could use more glute activation to counter time spent sitting. In order to hold the pelvis level throughout the exercise, you need to contract both the abdominal and lower back muscles. This will help stabilize your spine. Use this exercise for a unique twist on the traditional core and abdominal strengthening exercises.


Watch Now: Single Leg Bridge Exercise for Butt and Core

Step-by-Step Instructions

Lay on your back with your hands by your sides, your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Make sure your feet are under your knees.

  1. Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles.
  2. Raise your hips up to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
  3. Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine.
  4. Slowly raise and extend one leg while keeping your pelvis raised and level.
  5. Hold.
  6. Return to the starting position with knees bent.
  7. Perform the lift with the other leg.

Common Mistakes

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

Arching Back

As you raise the hip, do not allow your back to arch. The lift comes from your glutes and not from your back muscles.

Sagging or Rotating Hips

You should have a straight line from your knee to your shoulders. Your 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 sag or drop, place the leg back on the floor and do a double leg bridge until you become stronger.

Modifications and Variations

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

Need a Modification?

The goal is to maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your extended leg and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. You may need to begin by holding this bridge position for a few seconds and switching sides. It's better to hold the correct position for a shorter time than to go longer in the incorrect position.

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 same move. It is considered to be a basic rehabilitation exercise for spinal and core stabilization.

Up for a Challenge?

Besides lifting and holding the bridge position for up to 30 seconds, many exercise routines have you hold it only briefly and do eight to 12 repetitions per leg and multiple sets.

The bridge march is another variation. From the standard double leg bridge, you move one leg toward your chest, return it to the floor, then bend the other leg toward your chest.

Lastly, consider lifting with one leg only. Leave one foot firmly planted on the ground and keep the other leg lifted. Do several reps, then switch sides.

Safety and Precautions

The bridge and its variations are often used in physical therapy, but if you have any injuries to your neck, back, or ankle, you should talk to your doctor or therapist to see if this exercise is appropriate for you. This exercise is in a supine position and may be one to avoid during the second and third trimester of pregnancy.

Try It Out

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

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Article Sources
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  1. Lehecka BJ, Edwards M, Haverkamp R, et al. Building A Better Gluteal Bridge: Electromyographic Analysis Of Hip Muscle Activity During Modified Single-leg Bridges. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2017;12(4):543-549.