By Nora Tobin
As you can imagine, a strong, toned rear has major benefits! Aside from making any bikini or pair of jeans look fabulous, strong glutes play a vital role in sports performance, injury prevention and day to day body function. One of my favorite ways to strengthen those muscles is the always reliable bridge.
Here are five reasons to add bridges to your workout every day:
1. Reduce knee and back pain.
The posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) tend to get neglected. Whether it's daily activities or high-intensity workouts, the quadriceps usually takeover and do most of the work. Unfortunately, this pattern results in tight IT bands, which can lead to knee and back pain because the dominance of one muscle over another can lead to injury. Luckily, bridges full engage that posterior chain, evening out muscle use.
2. Improve athletic performance.
Strong glutes are a key factor when it comes to producing power. Power is what aids all athletic movements. Strengthening the glutes will helps you sprint faster, jump higher and be more explosive on the court or field.
3. Your clothes will fit better.
A high, toned, rounded rear looks great in any situation, and the stronger your glutes, the better their shape will be. Bridges — especially weighted bridges — give you major definition. Don't be afraid to lift heavier weight if you're doing a weighted version of the move ... it'll just give you better tone and a firmer backside!
4. Strengthen your core.
The bridge exercise activates all the core muscles, including the transverse abdominous (flattens your core), rectus abdominous (six pack!) and obliques (hourglass figure). Performing any variation of a bridge works these muscles deeply, tightening everything up in one easy move.
5. Improve your posture.
Bridge builds strength in the glutes and erector spinae, which help you maintain proper posture when you're sitting or standing for an extended period of time. The move also strengthens the core which always helps with posture.
Convinced? Here are five bridge variations to tone and strengthen the glutes.
For a full workout, perform the entire routine three times.
Single Leg Bridge
Lay flat on your back with knees bent hip width and hands by your sides. Bring right knee into your chest and keep it in place. Keep foot on the floor and knee bent. Engage glutes and lift hips up as high as possible. Form a straight line from head to knees when you lift. Hold at the highest point for 2-3 seconds and lower back down to the floor. Perform 20 reps on each side.
Lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet hip width. Hold a weight on your hips and keep it in place using your hands to stabilize it the entire time. Engage the glutes to lift the hips up as high as possible (make sure the lift is coming from your glutes and not your low back by keeping back straight and core engaged). Return back to center and repeat the movement. Perform 10 reps.
Lie flat on your back with right foot on a stable bench or box. Bring left knee into your chest and hold in place the entire time. Lift the hips up as high as possible, pressing the right foot into the bench to lift. Return back to the floor and repeat the movement. Perform 10 reps each side.
Lay flat on your back with feet and knees glued together the entire time. Engage the glutes and inner thighs as you lift hips up. Hold at the top for 2-3 seconds and then lower back down. Do not let the legs come apart. Perform 20 reps.
Lie on your back with knees bent, hands pressed into the mat and feet hip-width apart. Lift hips up as high as possible. Lower the hips an inch then lift the hips an inch. Continue this small range of motion for 30 reps.