There’s nothing more powerful than a set of well-toned glutes. Sure, a fit and firm butt looks amazing, but it’s more than just an aesthetic asset. It can help you during your workouts (and in life) as well.
“The glutes are not only one of the strongest muscles groups in the body, but also quite literally your seat of athletic power, generating explosive force during everything from sprinting and jumping to squatting, lifting, and climbing,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Beachbody’s fitness and nutrition content manager.
They’re also among the most neglected, thanks to hours a day spent sitting on them rather than putting them to work. “The result is weak glutes and tight hip flexors, a combination that torpedoes performance and sets the stage for low back pain,” Thieme says.
So if you want to get a toned booty, the glute bridge exercise can help get you there. It’s a floor-based exercise that can help firm and sculpt all of the buttocks muscles. It opens tight hips too, possibly preventing injury. “Plus, it will help you fill out a pair of jeans in all the right ways,” says Thieme.
Here’s how to master the glute bridge exercise as well as a few challenging progressions, that will help you create a buff, round booty that’ll make Queen Bey proud.
Celebrate the Basic, Effective Bridge Exercise
How to do it: Lie on your back, arms down by your sides. Bend your knees and plant your feet flat on the floor. Pull in through your navel to brace your core muscles and then squeeze your glutes to press your hips up so your body forms a straight line — no arching — from knees to shoulders. Warns Thieme, “Keep your head on the floor and eyes focused on the ceiling.” Hold the position for a beat, and then lift and lower and repeat 12 times.
Try lifting one leg at a time in Bridge Pose for an added challenge. (See photo above.) Want to kick it up a notch? Keep one foot elevated and perpendicular to the floor; then lift and lower hips. “The added instability will instantly make the move more challenging,” says Thieme.
Glute Bridge Reach Exercise
The glute bridge reach is a total body exercise that boosts mobility and coordination while building strength. “The reach boosts the challenge to your core, builds mobility through your chest, shoulders, and upper back, opens your hips, and increases your time under tension, which is the key to maximizing muscle growth,” says Thieme.
How to do it: Do a traditional bridge and imagine a huge clock looking down at you. Each time you raise your hips, you’ll reach for a different point on the clock in front of you, alternating hands and then feet.
During your first rep, reach up with your left hand and touch 10 o’clock. (Lower your hips in between reps.) During your second repetition, touch 2 o’clock with your right hand. During your next four reps, touch 11 o’clock with your left hand, 1 o’clock with your right hand, 5 o’clock with your right heel, and 7 o’clock with your left heel. Repeat that sequence one more time (for 12 reps total) to complete a set.
Foot-Elevation Bridge Exercise
“This variation brings the hamstrings more into play — especially if you place only your heels on the bench,” says Thieme.
How to do it: Perform a bridge, but place your feet up on a bench (or the edge of a chair) instead of the floor, knees bent. Alternatively, you can place just the balls of your feet on the edge of the bench to increase activation in your calves. The safe, effective bridge exercise is definitely here to stay!