Strength (Video) - The Glute Bridge With an Exercise Ball

Strength (Video) - The Glute Bridge With an Exercise Ball

Dick Moss

The Glute Bridge (aka Hip Lift) does a great job of strengthening the gluteus maximus muscles in a functional way.

These muscles are help to drive the legs backwards behind the body in the running stride. They are also used in squat-type movements such as climbing stairs, rising from and lunge and walking up hills. In addition, strong glutes are needed to maintain the hamstring muscles and a strong, healthy back.

Here's how to perform the Glute Bridge.

See instructional video, with Tony Scott and Dave Harris, below:


Sit on an exercise ball and lean backwards, inching the feet forward until the shoulders are resting on the ball. Cross the arms and keep the feet shoulder-width apart.


• Drop the butt then lift upwards until the body is parallel to the ground.
• Focus on squeezing the glutes when lifting - particularly near the top of the movement.
• Hold for the count of three, then descend and repeat.
• The abs should be slightly contracted during the movement, although not completely. It should be similar to the amount of contraction you'd feel when running. A coaching cue is to draw the navel slightly in towards the spine.
• Perform eight reps, followed by two one-legged lifts per leg (see below).

Coaching Points

• With the feel flat on the floor, push upward from the heels, and make sure the pelvis remains level as it rises - that is, neither the left or right side of the pelvis should drop lower than the other. You must push evenly with both glutes to accomplish this.
• Make the sure the hips extend full - that is, the butt should lift until the body is parallel to the ground.
• Knees must remain straight - they should not buckle inward or outward.
• Feet must point directly forward and should not point outward or inward.


• The hips don't extend fully.
• The pelvis is drops to one side as the hips lift.
• The knees buckle inward or outward during the lift.
• Feet point outward in an attempt to get a more stable base with the feet. This makes the exercise easier and reduces the load on the glutes, hips and abs.

Indicators Of Muscle Weakness
This exercise can help you identify muscle weakness and imbalances. For example:

• If the hips lift unevenly, the glutes on the lower side are usually weaker.
• If athletes pushing with their toes, instead of their heels, they are quad-dominant, and it means their glues and hams (posterior chain) aren't firing correctly.

You can use the following variations to change the intensity of the exercise.

1. One Legged Glute Bridge:After eight reps, do two one-legged bridges on each leg (total of four more). This exercise is more difficult - it will demonstrate any muscle imbalances/weaknesses between the legs. For example, one leg is often stronger and can perform this lift more easily than the other. The movement is the same, but spread the arms outward for greater balance, straighten one leg, and lift and lower using only the other leg.

2. Theraband Variation:You can place a Theraband around the thighs. In order to keep the legs in a straight, aligned position, the hips must be activated in order to push the knees outwards against the pull of the Theraband. The load on the hips and glutes is greater with this variation.

3. Variation Without an Exercise Ball:If you don't have an exercise ball, you can perform this exercise with the shoulders the floor. The goal is to lift the hips until the body is in a straight line.

References: From a workshop with Tony Scott (RMT & Certified Flexibility Therapist--formerly with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Blue Jays), of Newmarket, Ontario, and Dave Harris, (BSc in Kinesiology), Personal Trainer/Strength and Conditioning Coach, Aurora, Ontario.


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