If you’ve been following me for the last year, then you already know that I’m a big believer in isolating and strengthening the lower back, especially before performing a major compound lift. It’s why I perform Back Extensions every workout, and most recently wrote an article about it. But there other exercises that you can perform that not only workout the lower back, but have other benefits as well.
The Glute Bridge
The Glute Bridge, is another Posterior Chain focused exercise, one in which the the Gluteus Maximus, Medius and Minimus. These three heads make up the support system for your hips in terms of movement and especially flexibility. Here are few of the benefits of performing the Glute Bridge every day.
- No More Back Pain. Are you someone whose job requires sitting for most of the day, if not all? That’s a common cause for back pain in most people. When you sit down for extended periods of time, you’re weakening your glutes. Doing so causes the muscles to pull on the lower back. In fact, when I twisted my lower back in 2011 while on the job, the Glute Bridge is one of the exercises my physical therapist prescribed for me to do at home.
- A Stronger Core. Much like I discussed in my article on Back Extensions, most lifters, regardless of their goals, tend to just train the muscles they see, not understanding the importance of the muscles in the rear. This is can absolutely lead to muscle imbalances, potentially leading to an injury. Remember that your core is not just your abs, and that training your lower back can help to improve your posture, as well as overall body strength and get rid of imbalances. And by the way, if you keep tight during the exercise, you will in fact train your abs as well.
- Improvement In Squat And Deadlift Performance. I recently ran a poll regarding this subject on my Instagram account. Most of my participants voted that they felt Glute Bridges did help their Squat and Deadlift performance. It’s easy to see why. Not only do Squats and Deadlifts, rely on a warmed up and strengthen Posterior Chain for maximum performance, but the Glute Bridge, much like the Squat and Deadlift is essentially another Hip Hinge variation and they all go hand in hand. Strong glutes make for strong hips, making for a far more powerful lift.
How To Perform The Glute Bridge
There are many variations of this exercise, but for now we will only look at the most basic variation. One recommendation I’d make to anyone getting ready to perform this move is make sure your hip flexors are loosened up. As mentioned earlier, most of you ready this probably sit all day, so going into this cold could lead to pain in that area.
You should foam roll your entire body, especially your hip flexors, and follow that up with the static hip flexor stretch for three sets at ten seconds each.
- Lie down flat on your back, your hands in front of your shoulders, your knees bent around 45 degrees.
- Inhale, then raise your hips until they are mid line with your femurs as you exhale. This is to be done in a controlled manor. Never push through your feet, although it might be tempting the first few times. When your hips are mid line with your femurs, hold at the top for a few seconds.
- Slowly bring your hips back down. This is one rep. Continue this for up to 12 reps if possible and repeat for two more sets.
- Perform these everyday. If you sit all day long it’s imperative that you keep you lower back strong to avoid back pain. Performing this move everyday will ensure that your glutes are as strong as your hamstrings, which also play a part in lower back health.
- Once you master this basic bridge there are other variations you should attempt, placing your feet on either a medicine ball or a platform depending on what you have available to you. You can also test your flexibility by trying the Wrestler’s Bridge, a bridge some lifters rely on to improve their Bench Press arch. You can also continue to perform this basic move and just add weight via a kettlebell, a dumbell or especially a barbell. Some gyms, such as mine, might also have a Glute Bridge machine. If your gym is one of them you might want to give it a test drive today.
- I personally know some powerlifters who chose to incorporate this move into their routines as an accessory movement. That’s totally fine. But my preference would be make the Glute Bridge the first exercise you perform before hitting anything else. This will ensure that your back is fresh while performing the movement, as well as warming the area up before performing a major lift, ensuring that you’re less likely to get hurt because your lower back was tight.
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