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The barbell glute bridge is a great way to fire up those glute muscles to increase strength and add some size.
While it can be done as a bodyweight exercise, by adding resistance in the way of a barbell you can increase tension on your muscles for an even better workout.
Recommended Reading – 8 Best Glute Exercises At Home With Resistance Bands
In this article we’ll be taking a deep dive into this great exercise to learn more about the benefits, the barbell glute bridge muscles worked and some different glute bridge variations.
Is The Barbell Glute Bridge The Same As A Hip Thrust
This is a common question, and the answer is no, the glute bridge is not the same as a hip thrust.
The main difference between these exercises is that when doing a glute bridge you start by lying on the ground whereas the starting position of a hip thrust requires you to rest your upper back on something like a weight bench.
There is a greater range of motion when doing hip thrust exercises compared to the glute bridge which makes it slightly better for glute activation.
However, because the hip thrust doesn’t offer any support to your lower back this can put stress on your hip flexors and may not be suitable if you suffer from lower back pain.
The hip thrust also works the muscles a little differently as there is more quad activation with slightly less recruitment of your gluteal muscles.
Barbell Glute Bridge Muscles Worked
The muscles worked when performing a barbell glute bridge are the hip extensors.
These comprise of your gluteus maximus (the largest of your glute muscles) and your hamstrings which form part of your posterior chain.
Secondary muscles that are recruited are the quads and transverse abdominis.
These help to provide stability when you’re in the bridge position.
Let’s look at each of these muscles to see how they engage when doing the exercise.
The primary movement in the barbell glute bridge is hip extension.
As you lift your hips towards the ceiling, your gluteus maximus is responsible for this movement.
In the top position of the glute bridge, your hips may move slightly beyond neutral, creating a hyperextension of the hip joint. This further activates your glute max.
As you raise your hips towards the ceiling your hamstrings contract to assist in extending the hip joint.
The hamstrings also play a role in stabilizing the movement, especially when you’re in the top position.
They help control the descent of your hips back down to the floor.
While the prime movers are the quads and hamstrings, the quads play a supporting role in extending the knee as you lift your hips.
They help to maintain proper alignment of your knee joints and stop them from caving inwards.
The transverse abdominis (TA) is a deep set abdominal muscle which provides core stability to support the movement.
It helps to brace your core and provides stability to your spine so that you don’t excessively arch your lower back.
To work all of the above muscles properly you need to make sure the form is correct.
Do this by pushing through your heels as you raise your hips up to create a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
Here are some other tips to help you get it right:
- Keep your chin tucked in – When you get tired it’s common to lose form but keeping your chin tucked will help you maintain the correct position and will help stop you from arching your lower back.
- Brace yourself against the barbell – Keep your wrists straight and lock out your arms to help keep the barbell in the crease of your hips. This helps to make sure that your lower body does all the work.
- Hyperextend your hips – at the top of the movement push your hips as high as you can for increased tension on your glutes.
- Lower the weight slowly – As you return to the starting position, use control to lower the weight. Briefly allow your glutes to touch the floor before exploding back up.
- Start with body weight only – By doing it without any weight you can practice the above tips and really focus on good form. As your glute strength improves you can then introduce a barbell and start doing a weighted glute bridge.
Tight hip flexors could prevent you doing a glute bridge with proper form, so you’ll want to work on that first to improve your flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.
As mentioned, it’s a good idea to start out by doing it as a bodyweight exercise before incorporating any weight.
Besides Working The Glutes, What Are Other Benefits Of Glute Bridges
So we already know that the glute bridge is one of the best exercises to work your glutes making them stronger and more shapely, but what else happens when you regularly do this exercise as part of your booty workout routine.
You’ll Notice Improvements To Your Posture
When you work the muscles of your glutes this will make them stronger which is going to help with better support of your spine and pelvis.
This can improve your posture and can even get rid of low back and hip pain.
They Can Improve Strength To Your Knee Joints
Many people thing of lunges and squats to improve their knee joint strength.
However, regular glute bridges can help with proper alignment of your knees.
At the top of the movement, you’ll be recruiting your quads which will make them stronger.
As your quads are connected to your kneecap, this helps with alignment and decreases knee pain.
Helps To Loosen Up Tight Hip Flexors
The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, and this means it needs to move through a wide range of motion to function properly.
If you have a desk job and spend large parts of your day sitting, this can make your hip flexors and joints become very tight.
Regular bridge exercises can improve the flexibility of these muscles and allow for better mobility of your joints.
Improves the Strength Of Your Lower Back
Your glutes are one of the primary muscle groups that help to support your lower back and spine.
So, by doing glute bridges often you can improve the strength of your back muscles and even make everyday things like lifting heavy objects much easier.
Your Butt Muscles Will Look Better
As we know, the glute bridge works your gluteus maximus which is the largest of the glute muscles.
The other two muscles are the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.
As the glute max is the biggest, it contributes most to the shape and size of your butt.
This means regular glute bridges can help to tone and lift the area making the glutes rounder and firmer.
Some Glute Bridge Alternatives To Keep Your Training Varied
If you’re interested in some different variations of a regular barbell glute bridge, why not give some of these a go. They’ll all work your glute muscles to varying degrees.
Hip Thrust: A similar movement to the glute bridge but you start with your upper back resting on the edge of a bench thereby increasing your range of motion. This is a good option if you want more quad recruitment.
Kas Glute Bridge: this exercise is the same as a hip thrust but with a smaller range of motion where you stop just before your knees begin to track backwards.
Single Leg Glute Bridge: In this variation you would raise one leg straight up in the air allowing you to work each side independently. This is ideal if you want to address any muscle imbalances.
Swiss Ball Glute Bridge: Instead of resting your feet on the floor as with a regular glute bridge, you place them on an exercise ball. This helps to work more of your core muscles as they have to work hard to help stabilize you throughout the exercise.
Elevated Glute bridge: By placing your feet on an elevated surface you can increase the range of motion and work your glutes more intensely.
Banded Glute Bridge: When placing a resistance band around the top of your knees you can increase the resistance and work more of your glute medius.
How Heavy Should You Go When Doing A Glute Bridge
The most important thing to focus on before adding weight is execution.
It’s really important to get the form right as this ensures you’ll be working your glute muscles properly with injury much less likely.
When you’ve perfected the form and your glutes start to get stronger, consider incorporating the weight of a barbell.
A standard Olympic barbell typically weighs around 45lbs (20kg).
Remember, the length of the barbell, which is 7ft, will add an element of instability to the exercise and you’ll need to practice keeping the bar in place as you lift your hips.
Progress slowly and only move to a heavier weight when you’ve become accustomed to lifting the barbell.
Is the Glute Bridge Better Than A Squat
To increase the strength and mass of your hip extensor muscles studies have shown that both the weighted glute bridge and barbell squat elicit similar results.
However, when it comes to increasing mass of the glutes and quads, the barbell squat has been shown to be far superior as the exercise results in greater muscle hypertrophy.
This means that if your goal is to increase the size and strength of your glute max, the barbell squat is better than the glute bridge.
However, it’s important to remember that the squat is a far more technical exercise, especially when resistance is added.
The squat will also put more stress on your lower back when compared to the glute bridge.
This does mean that your overall goal and ability should determine which one is better for you.
Weak glutes can contribute to a host of problems ranging from poor posture, low back pain, and reduced hip mobility.
You don’t need to lift huge amounts of weight to strengthen your glutes but by starting out with the body weight glute bridge and then introducing a barbell will really fire up your glute muscles helping to improve their size, overall body composition and you can expect to enjoy the benefits mentioned in this article.