Official Website of Sarah E. Rippel, BS, CPT, FMS

-Hip Bridge Variations-


Boy, oh boy, do I have something good for y’all today!  This tasty little tidbit of exercise goodness is yet another variation on the basic Hip Bridge.  Many of you already know that bridges are great for the glutes!  The bridging motion can serve to “turn on” the glutes, thereby calming down the typically-tight hip flexors.  I do recommend that most people stretch the hamstrings prior to performing bridges of any sort.  Once you have mastered the plain ol’ 2-legged version, you can progress to more advanced variations, such as the two below.

The first is the not-so-exciting Single Leg Bridge with the knee held in towards the chest and arms pressed into the floor.  Keeping the knee held in towards the chest helps eliminate “false” hip extension from the lower back, thus keeping the emphasis on the glutes.  Pressing the arms into the floor activates the thoracic extensors and creates stability throughout the posterior chain’s extensor system.

The second progression is where things begin to get interesting!  This variation uses a band, which recruits the thoracic extensors more than simply pressing the arms into the floor does. The result? Better reactive neuromuscular stabilization and glute recruitment…and more burn! 😀

Note, I am keeping my leg relatively straight, as I am able to perform hip extension without recruiting the low back.  If you find this hard to do, you may bend the knee and bring it closer to the chest, as in the first video!

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15 responses

  1. bravofitness

    Nice to see you recovered from your down weekend. 🙂

    These feel oh so good in the buttisimo. I had a quick flash of doing bootstrappers in relation to that warm feeling that develops in the posterior!

    March 10, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    • LOL!!!!
      The band makes them extra-fun!
      I’m feeling better…today it’s just a persistent sinus headache! Could be worse!
      What the hey are bootstrappers? I’m assuming they are an evil military drill? Do I wanna know? Do my clients wanna know? I’ll give YOU credit…that way they won’t get mad at me if it’s something I feel they deserve to do!!!!!! 😀

      March 10, 2009 at 1:33 pm

      • bravofitness

        EVIL I TELLS YA! Begin by squatting down and balancing yourself ‘high’ on your toes and get into the right positioning by leaning forward and putting your hands on the ground a little in front of your shoulders. Almost like on starting blocks for sprinting except both feet are together and you are basically on your toes. Make sure to keep the toes pointed forward with heels off the ground, and knees are close together. Keep your weight distributed about 60-70% front, 30-40% rear(front imbalance) between your feet and your hands with your glutes and hams sitting on your heels.
        All you do for a rep is, from the start position, straighten your legs and stop when your heels touch the ground while maintaining balance on your hands. The hand positioning might vary due to structural, I do them on my “finger tips”, and flat palms aren’t necessary, but the same general placement works. From there bring your rear back down until you touch your heels, and that’s one! I think this is called a few names all over the place, but Bootstrapper is what I was told.

        This is supposed to be great for the quads, but the hamstrings take a nice hit too and can exploit flexibilty issues there. I think they are similar to your inchworm at the midpoint(?) if I remember. 🙂

        March 10, 2009 at 2:38 pm

        • AWESOME! 😀
          I can most definitely see how they fry the quads and work to stretch the hammies! I’ll have to fiddle with these!!!!!!!!!

          March 10, 2009 at 2:59 pm

          • bravofitness

            If you want to be particularly evil, do a goblet squat/Swing(KB or DB)/Bootstrapper superset, in that order. Moohahaha! 🙂

            March 10, 2009 at 8:50 pm

            • Oh wow!
              That IS evil!!!!!!!!!!
              Who can I test this out on first? 😀
              Goblet squats are awesome! I’d kinda forgotten about them! I love the fact that they can help someone who doesn’t squat the best perform a better squat!

              March 11, 2009 at 10:14 am

  2. Tonya

    Glad you are feeling better. Being sick is not fun.

    How would you know if your lower back is taking over in bridging exercises?

    March 10, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    • Hey T!

      Great question! It can be tricky to know when this is happening. Case in point, I have one particular client who will hyperextend her low back while doing any sort of 2-legged bridge exercise. She also has a hard time “connecting” with her core, and her butt doesn’t want to work. What’s the remedy? Stretching her tight low back prior to doing bridges, and having her do them with a single leg, keeping the knee in towards the chest. A common contributor to coming up into hyperextension is an anteriorly-tilted pelvis (which can go hand in hand with tight lower back). For any bridge exercise, brace the abs by pulling the belly button to the floor, which will posteriorly tilt the pelvis, then push through the heels to raise the hips off the floor. When in doubt, don’t come up as far as you’d like. When you do ANY standard bridge, there should be a straight line formed from your knee to your shoulder. There are all sorts of progressions/regressions. For example, in Pilates they teach several “levels” of bridging, the first one being just a slight hip raise off the floor (I remember in my Pilates cert, being taught to “curl” the hips off the floor, and with the progressions thereafter, there was a “wave” analogy as the hips were lifted and each vertebra came off the floor).

      You are very much in tune with how it feels to “brace” the abs…this, combined with an emphasis on a steady, controlled glute contraction, makes for the perfect bridge! If you’re still wondering, take a picture for me in the “top” position and i’ll take a gander.

      March 10, 2009 at 2:58 pm

  3. JMJ

    Sarah states it much more eloquently than I do. That’s why she’s such a stud. To combat the lower back getting too involved, I always tell my clients to clinch their butt checks together during the concentric phase of the bridge. And 9 times out of 10, they are going too high.

    March 10, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    • 😀
      Why, thank you, Jason!
      You just made me remember years and years ago, I was told to “imagine squeezing a quarter” between my butt cheeks while doing deadlifts! It works!

      March 11, 2009 at 10:12 am

  4. DDRdiva

    OMG, Bootstrappers! Here is where I first saw them:
    http://www.trainforstrength.com/ex-2.shtml
    He suggests 4 sets of 25. I remember trying them in a hotel room while I was traveling, and thinking at first “this is easy peasy, no problemo..” and then around rep 10, an incredible BURN raced through my thighs! By number 15, I was ready to keel over.

    March 10, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    • I am gonna DIE when I first attempt these!!!!!!!

      March 11, 2009 at 10:11 am

  5. Oh boy! That second one’s a keeper!

    March 11, 2009 at 9:31 am

    • HECK YES!!!! 🙂

      March 11, 2009 at 10:09 am

  6. bravofitness

    Awesome! 🙂

    March 12, 2009 at 1:37 pm

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