Let's think about, no matter our age - 8 to 80 - we are most likely in a seated position for a good portion of our day. You may be sitting behind the wheel, seated at a desk, or on a couch, and this has an impact on our bodies. Overtime, our bodies adapt to all of the sitting and our glutes become underactive. This can lead to back pain and tightness, muscular compensations, and injury. The best way to reduce these risks is to work to strengthen those underactive glute muscles.
The Glute Bridge A great exercise to strengthen the glutes (the glute max specifically) is the classic glute bridge.
Not only does this exercise activate your glutes, but it will also help you build core stability as you keep your abs tight throughout the movement. Your hamstrings assist in the hip extension, and you can activate the gluteus medius by adding a resistance band just above the knee.
The glute bridge is simple to perform, easy to progress, and requires no equipment.
How to Perform the Glute Bridge
Lay down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Your feet should be hip-width apart with your toes pointed straight ahead, and your heels should be about 6-8 inches away from your glutes. Place your arms by your sides with your palms turned up toward the ceiling.
Squeeze your glutes and your abs as you start to lift your hips toward the ceiling.
Raise your hips as high as you can go without arching your back. The goal is to raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from your knee to your hip and to your shoulder.
Squeeze the glutes as tightly as you can in the top position while you hold for two seconds.
Slowly lower the hips down to the floor, keeping tension in the glutes and abs as you lower down.
You should feel your glutes the most during this exercise. If you feel your hamstrings working the most, try moving your feet back, closer to your glutes. If you feel the muscles in your low back working the most, return to the starting position and reposition your back so that your hips are tucked under, and your abs are engaged. When you raise your hips up, try to maintain a neutral core position to avoid arching the low back.
Kick It Up A Notch One example of how we progress a glute bridge is by working up to a single-leg bridge. This will still challenge the glutes while adding additional challenges for the core as we will work to stabilize the trunk.
Benefits of the Bridge Glute bridges are great exercises for building our core stability and glute strength. By increasing our glute activation and strengthening the glutes, not only will our form get better in other exercises (like squats, deadlifts, walking, etc.), but we may also gain the added benefit of reduced low back pain in our everyday life.