The Glute Bridge is one of my go-to exercises for pregnant and postpartum mamas. Keeping the glutes strong in pregnancy is helpful for warding off hip and low back pain, supporting your growing belly, and setting you up for a most comfortable postpartum recovery.
The glutes have a big job. They are a big muscle group and important for helping stabilize your entire body through all of the physical changes in pregnancy. For some, glute bridges help strengthen the mind-muscle connection, which is why they often appear in postpartum rehab programs. If your pelvis is tilted anteriorly (belly pulled forward, lower back arch), your glutes and hammies are in a lengthened position, and you probably aren’t using them 100%.
Performing a glute bridge can help you get a better sense of how it feels to use your glutes during a simple movement before progressing to something more complex, like a heavy squat or deadlift. If at any point in your pregnancy you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or breathing is impaired, swap out a glute bridge for another exercise, like a hip thrust.
How to Perform a Bodyweight Glute Bridge
Step One: Start by lying on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor about hip-width distance apart, and spine in a neutral position. Make sure your feet are placed firmly on the floor, as you will be driving through your heels to rise. If it feels more comfortable to you, placing a bit of extra support under your head is an option too.
Step Two: Inhale at the bottom of your bridge, and exhale to engage your belly and rise. On the exhale, I want you to think about drawing your hip bones together. Your belly draws in and up as you extend your hips up. Core activation will protect your lumbar spine (lower back).
*Note on “engaging your core” – To engage your core properly, inhale and fill your abdomen with air. Think of your 360 umbrella breath, breathing into your hands, side ribs, and back. We want to avoid chest breathing, which we often see when our shoulders rise towards our ears. Release the air and pull your belly button in and up. Your rib cage will go down, your hip bones will pull in towards one another, and your belly button will actually move up!
Step Three: Drive your feet into the ground and extend your hips by squeeze your glutes. Lift your hips until your body is in a straight line from your knees, to your hips, to your shoulders. Hold for a second or two at the top, squeezing your glutes.
Step Four: Reverse the motion to descend slowly in one fluid motion.
The goal is for your body to work as one unit, core nice and strong, spine neutral, and glutes doing the work!
Glute Bridge Progressions
Below are some of my favorite glute bridge progressions. As you travel down the list, the exercise gets a bit more challenging.
*Note: Further along in pregnancy a glute bridge may become less comfortable. We can sub for a hinge, hip thrust, or deadlift (hip dominant movement).
- Bodyweight Glute Bridge
- Band-Resisted Glute Bridge (miniband just above knees)
- Dumbbell Glute Bridge – if this feels comfortable.
- 1.5 Rep Glute Bridge
- Single Leg Glute Bridge w/ Dumbbell
- Feet Elevated Glute Bridge
- Single-Leg Foot Elevated Glute Bridge
What are some of your favorite glute bridge options? Let me know with a comment below 🙂