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Master the Glute Bridge to Hip Thrust Progression

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

The glute bridge is such a foundational exercise that I see so many people perform incorrectly, leading to low back pain, improper movement patterns & NO results. In this article, I am going to walk you through how perform proper form of your glute bridge, hip thrust and progressions from both of these exercises. Whether you're new to strength training or be at it for years, we're going to walk through the foundational level glute bridge to a hip thrust and all the progressions in between.

Weighted single leg band hip thrust

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, form refreshers every now and then are always supportive in ensuring you muscles are coming together to produce movement with proper form to avoid injuries & to produce the results you're looking for!

In this article, you'll find tutorials linked throughout to support your learning of specific progressions as well as full video recaps of each section.

Mastering the Glute Bridge

Let's go over how to properly perform the glute bridge and some progressions you can add to your workout. To set up your glute bridge, you're going to lie flat with your back on the ground and your knees bent in a tent shape position with the heels close to the glutes.

Grasp the hips (thumb on top and 4 fingers on the back) and rotate them down and slightly up so you can get a nice flat low back on the ground as you contract the core. Being able to keep the contracted and the low back flat on the ground is a foundational movement within the glute bridge and several other supine (on your back) exercises. This is called the abdominal brace.

When you come up into your bridge by pressing up through the heels, you want a nice straight line between the shoulders and the quadriceps. Ensure to not hyperextend the back beyond this (imaginary) line and form arch in the back & collapse the neck. When coming down, have your low back, nice and flat on the floor as when you started.

Resistance Band Glute Bridge For your next progression, you're going to add in a resistance band. The foundation of the glute bridge does not change when adding the resistance band. Your low back is nice and flat on the floor in between reps and when you come up, you're in that straight line.

Resistance Band Glute Bridge Abduction

The next progression is going to be adding an abduction with the legs at the top of your bridge. Keep that same straight light at the top and this time before coming down, you're going to press the legs away from one another against that resistance band, while keeping the feet on the floor.

Dumbbell Glute Bridge

Next you're going to work on adding a dumbbell. You will load the dumbbell horizontally over the hips and hold it (lightly) in place as you perform the exercise. Same thing, low back comes all the way nice and flat, and you're gonna press up through the heels to the top of that glute bridge and back down nice and slow.

Dumbbell Glute Bridge with Resistance Band

Then you can go ahead and add a dumbbell plus the band. Feel free to add that abduction at the top as well.

The key to your glute bridge is to perform them slow and controlled. Pausing for a brief moment at the top and the bottom of your rep. When working with compound exercises like this, you want to ensure you are pausing at the top of each movement and demonstrating full control of the exercise.

Single Leg Glute Bridge

Now for your next progression, the single leg glute bridge, you're going to start with body weight & progress in the same way as we did for the standard glute bridge. Same foundation rules apply, except now you're only pressing through one single leg. As before, you're going to progress with a resistance band, before adding that dumbbell,

I would actually recommend to do a single leg banded hip thrust, which we are going to into the hip thrust later in this article!

Here's a quick recap and tutorial for the exercises we've learned so far!

Elevated Glute Bridges

Once you’ve mastered your glute bridge, progressions & single leg floor glute bridges, you're ready to tackle some elevation. You'll need to find your closest elevated, study surface such as a bench, couch, chair or even a lower surface to start, such as an ottoman or an adjustable step up for your elevated glute bridges.

When you press up to the bridge from your elevated position, you want to make sure that you are not staying high and tight in the neck and overextending this bridge just as you wouldn't on the floor. Same rules apply. You want to make sure that that back is coming nice and flat to the ground.

Pressing up into your bridge, is going to look a little bit different from this elevated position. You are already elevated, so you want to be extra careful of not over extending and collapsing the neck.

Elevated Glute Bridge with Abduction

Even when you progress and add that band with the abduction at the top, the shoulders are staying nice and in line with the hips. When you're in the elevated position, instead of using a bench chair or a couch, you can start from a lower elevated position, such as an ottoman or a step up, and still get in your elevated glute bridge with that band abduction at the top.

Single Leg Elevated Glute Bridge

Your next progression is the single leg elevated glute bridge. You're really isolating one side glute here at a time with that resistance band and your elevation. Remember, slow and controlled and maintain that form, even with the elevation and your progressions.

Here's a quick recap and tutorial for the elevated glute bridge exercises!

Hip Thrust

The Hip Thrust can be a versatile exercise once mastered and nailing your form in the Glute Bridge (& progressions) is essential before jumping into the hip thrust.

The key muscle groups targeted in the hip thrust are glutes, hamstrings & core. Follow those same fundamentals of keeping the core engaged, back flat & head and neck in neutral spine as you would in your glute bridge.

Start by lining up the bottom of the shoulder blades to a bench couch or chair and have the legs bent out in front of you in a tabletop position. Stabilize in this position with the hips in line with the knees and the feet firmly planted.

Begin to sink the glutes down while maintaining a flat back, then once the glutes are hovering above the ground, press up through the heels back to your tabletop position. This movement should look as though you have 2 arrows shooting directly down through each side hip, then shooting back straight up. You can keep your hands at the crux of the hips, if that helps with your movement patterns. Maintain the same position with the shoulder blades throughout the exercise. Perform a few of these body weight only to get that form down.

Banded Hip Thrust

Then you're going to add a resistance band and perform the exercise in the exact same manner. Don't let the band throw you off. You still want to sink the glutes down towards the floor, but not touching. Keep a flat back & press up through the heels into that tabletop position.

Banded Hip Thrust with Abduction

Next you can add your abduction at the top, just like we did with the glute bridge progression.

Single Leg Banded Hip Thrust Next, we're going into the single leg hip thrust with the resistance band. The leg that is not doing with work is going to act as a pendulum while with the opposite leg will power through that stabilized foot. Isolating one leg at a time will be much more challenging as one leg is powering all the bodyweight + resistance. The pendulum leg should stay straight out in front of you throughout the exercise.

Weighted Hip Thrust

Next up, you're ready for some weight. We're gonna add that dumbbell directly over the hips so it replaces the hands and follows that exact same motion of the glutes coming down and pressing into that tabletop position.

Single Leg Weighted Hip Thrust

You guessed it. Next, we're loading up for a single leg weighted hip thrust. You're going to shift the dumbbell to the same side leg that is going to be powering through this movement. The opposite leg will still act as the pendulum, staying out in front of you

Once you've mastered those, before you know it, you're ready for the barbell.

Barbell Hip Thrust

By now you have already been practicing this same movement with bands & dumbbells, Everything stays the same, even with the barbell. Always start with the barbell only first first. It may feel light to start, but you want to gain comfortability with the bar before adding on additional weight. This can even be for your first set, performing high repetitions to get the hang of it and then adding weight all times moving forward once ready.

Here's a quick recap and tutorial for the hip thrust exercises!

There you have it- your full progression from glue bridge to barbell hip thrust! Where are you in your progression and what's your next exercise to practice? Comment below!

For more in-depth tutorials of each of these exercises, subscribe to my YouTube channel where I am always adding new exercises and progressions to add into your routine!

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Comment below with any questions on these exercises! Happy training!


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