Glute bridges are one of the best, low-impact ways to sculpt your backside. But your glutes aren't the only muscle responsible for making your posterior chain (the muscles along the back of your body) strong and sexy; your hamstrings are essential as well.
"This exercise is extra effective because it's a closed kinetic chain move," says Holly Perkins, CSCS, personal trainer and creator of The GLUTES Project. "This means that you are strengthening the muscle against a fixed surface. You recruit more muscles and get an incredible contraction, making it hard to cheat."
Plus, the at-home-friendly exercise is a great way to balance out your glutes and hamstrings, she says. After all, in your quest for stronger glutes, it's easy to accidentally neglect your hamstrings. This exercise, however, strengthens both to help prevent and reverse muscle imbalances.
Once you've mastered proper bridge form, give this move a go during your next lower-body workout.
How to Do the Glute Bridge With Hamstring Curl
- Lie on the floor face-up with a pair of sliders, towel or two pieces of paper beneath each of your feet. If you're on carpet, wearing socks can also work. Brace your core.
- Press into your heels and squeeze your glutes to raise your hips toward the ceiling, arms at your sides.
- With your heels on the towel, glide your feet out away from your body as far as possible while, keeping your hips raised and back in neutral.
- Pause, then reverse the motion by pulling the heels against the floor toward your glutes.
"Be sure to maintain a neutral arch in your lower back, without overarching or flattening your lumbar [lower] spine," Perkins says.
Foot placement can make a difference, too. "I find using sliders works best when you place your heel in the middle, leaving your toes hanging off just a bit," she says. "This centers your load in the middle of the slider and makes the movement a bit more natural."
Work Up to It With the Glute Bridge to Single-Hamstring Curl
If you can't quite get this variation down, don't worry; it's not easy! It's meant to challenge your lower-body strength, stability and endurance.
"Even if you're in great shape, this kind of move is very challenging," Perkins says. "Before each rep, take a moment to reposition your hips, pelvis and back so they are in great alignment and stable. Reseting in between each rep can really help reduce any lower back problems as a result of this move."
To build your way up to this advanced exercise, try start with a simpler variation. "The double straight-leg version [above] is more advanced," she says. "But the single-leg version [below] is best for people just learning."
Glute Bridge With Single-Leg Hamstring Curl
- Instead of extending both legs at the same time, extend your right leg, then draw it back.
- Repeat with the left leg.
- Continue alternating legs with each rep.