Bridge exercises use your body weight and mechanics to strengthen and tone your hamstrings. These great all-around exercises also work your buttocks, hips, thighs and core. To see results, do hamstring bridge exercises at least two times per week. The bridge exercises are an effective tool for people with knee or hip injuries. They strengthen the hamstrings without putting the additional stress of weights on the joints. If you do have an injury, however, discuss your workout program with your doctor before starting any new exercise.
Standard Hamstring Bridge
This is accessible to beginners and effective for individuals of all fitness levels. The standard bridge also establishes the foundation for more challenging bridges.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet resting on the floor. Keep your knees and feet hip-width apart throughout the exercise. Keep your toes facing forward and your ankles directly below your knees. Stretch your arms straight beside your torso with palms facing downward. Press through your heels and lift your hips off the mat. Contract your hamstrings and squeeze your buttocks together. Pause at the top of the bridge position for 20 to 40 seconds. Release your hips back to the floor.
Hamstring Bridge with Pulse
By pulsing your hips while in bridge position, you repeatedly contract and release your hamstring and buttock muscles. Enter the standard hamstring bridge position. At the top of the bridge, pulse your hips by squeezing and releasing your buttocks. Do 10 to 20 pulses per set. Then release your hips back to the floor.
One-Legged Hamstring Bridge
This isolates the muscles of the supporting leg and produces a more intense workout. Enter the standard hamstring bridge position. At the top, lift one leg until the bottom of your foot is pointing toward the ceiling. Keep your raised leg straight in the air and immobile throughout the exercise. Lower your hips for two counts. Then raise your hips for two counts. Upon completing your set, lower your leg and then your hips back to the floor. Repeat this exercise on each leg five to 10 times per set.
One-Legged Hamstring Bridge with Leg Lift
This engages your supporting hamstring to stabilize your hips while pushing them up. Enter the standard hamstring bridge position. At the top, lift one leg until the bottom of your foot is pointing toward the ceiling. Keep your hips steady and immobile at the top of the bridge throughout the exercise. Keep your raised leg straight as you lower it toward the mat, pause for one count, then raise it up toward the ceiling. Repeat this exercise on each leg five to 10 times per set.
Hamstring Bridge with Stability Ball
This trains your hamstrings to stabilize your hips while in an unstable position. Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet resting on the ball. Lift your hips off the mat as you would in the standard hamstring bridge. Pause at the top of the bridge for one count. Lower your hips toward the floor, but do not let them touch. Press your hips back to the top of the bridge. Repeat this exercise five to 10 times per set.