12 Best Glute Bridge Alternatives To Train Your Glutes


Glute Bridge Alternatives

Glute Bridges are an excellent exercise for activating the glutes and building posterior chain strength. They’re a bodyweight movement that can be beginner-friendly and easily incorporated into both warm-ups and workouts.

However, sometimes you may want an alternative for Glute Bridges.

Maybe you need something a bit more challenging to work your posterior chain or maybe you’re just looking to change up your routine.

Whatever the reason, you’re in the right place. I’m about to share with you 12 of my favorite alternative exercises for Glute Bridges.

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Alternatives for Glute Bridges

I’ve tried to make this list of alternatives as diverse as possible. There are exercises that use a barbell, dumbbells and even no equipment at all. Hopefully, no matter what equipment you have or what your lifting experience is – one of these alternatives can serve as a replacement for Glute Bridges.


Single Leg Glute Bridge


Single Leg Glute Bridge (1)

Equipment Needed

  • None

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Start by laying on your back on the ground.
  • Bend both knees to about a 90 degree angle and place both feet flat on the floor.
  • Now, extend one leg straight out, still keeping both knees side by side.
  • Begin the rep by driving your hips up into the air. Try to attain a straight line from the ankle through the knees and hips.
  • Squeeze the glute at the top of the rep and then lower back down to the starting position.
  • Continue until all reps are completed and then switch sides.

Coaching Points

As you raise the hips up, try to drive the knee slightly forward (the leg with the foot on the ground). This can help with getting a strong glute contraction and a full extension of the hips.

Keep both knees side by side during the whole movement. Some athletes will tend to lift the straight leg higher in the air or let it trail lower.


Romanian Deadlift (RDL)


Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

Equipment Needed

  • Barbell
  • Weight Plates (Bumper or Iron)

Muscles Worked

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Erectors (Low Back)

How To

  • Address the bar with feet shoulder-width apart, and toes straight ahead.
  • Use a pronated grip about a thumb length from the start of the knurling.
  • Now, with a good flat back, pick the bar up to a standing position.
  • From here, put a slight bend in the knees and ‘set the back’ by squeezing the shoulder blades and engaging the lats.
  • Brace the core and hinge forward by pushing the hips back.
  • The bar should almost drag right down the legs, across the knees and straight down the shins. The whole foot should stay flat on the ground, but the weight should be on the mid-foot to heel.
  • Maintain the neutral spine position throughout the descent and once you feel a good stretch in the hamstrings, drive the hips forward (hip extension) and return to the starting position.

Coaching Points

The ‘depth’ that each person gets doing Romanian Deadlifts will be different and absolutely solely dependent upon hamstring flexibility.

Do NOT try to ‘reach’ the barbell toward the ground because you believe the plates should touch the floor. If you have tight hamstrings you may be doing well to get the bar to mid-shin.

Trying to reach the bar to the floor will result in the lifter losing their neutral spine and rounding their back.


Dumbbell RDL


Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbells (Kettlebells can also be used in place of dumbbells)

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • With the two dumbbells or kettlebells at your feet, you should hinge at the waist and bend at the knee, keeping a nice flat back, and lift the dumbbells off the ground.
  • Standing nice and tall, squeeze the shoulder blades back and create tension in the abdomen.
  • Keeping a neutral spine, fixing the eyes forward (DO NOT CRANE THE NECK BACK).
  • Initiate the movement by pushing the hips back, hinging at the waist, and keeping a slight bend in the knee.
  • The eccentric movement will continue until the dumbbells are about 3/4 down your shins.
  • Once the dumbbells are about 3/4 of the way down your shins, start to extend the hips, keeping tension in the abdomen and keeping the upper back nice and tight, straightening the knees until you return to standing in the starting position.

Coaching Points

During Dumbbell RDLs, it is important for the lifter to maintain a neutral spine, maintaining tension in the abdomen and upper back. Remember to breathe in and hold the breath during eccentric (lowering the weight) and breathe out as you perform the concentric movement (bringing the weight back up).


Single Leg Dumbbell RDL


Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbell

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • Keep a neutral spine, take in a deep breath, hinging at the waist and slightly bending the knee, and grab the dumbbell.
  • Standing nice and tall, squeeze the shoulder blades back and create tension in the abdomen.
  • On the opposite side of the arm holding the dumbbell will be the up leg.
  • For example, if you are holding the dumbbell in your right hand, your left leg will be off the ground and hinging backward.
  • Keeping a neutral spine, fixing the eyes forward (DO NOT CRANE THE NECK BACK).
  • Initiate the movement by lifting one foot off the ground, bending the off-leg knee slightly, pushing the hips back, hinging at the waist, and keeping a slight bend in the knee.
  • Create and maintain tension in the arch of the foot and imagine squeezing the floor with your toes. This will help maintain balance and engage the small musculature of the foot and shin.
  • The eccentric movement will continue until the dumbbell is about 3/4 down your shins. Keep the dumbbell in front of the down leg. Do not let the weight drift over the midline.
  • For example, if you are holding the dumbbell in your right hand, keep the dumbbell right in front of the right shin.
  • Once the dumbbell is about 3/4 of the way down your shins, start to extend the hips, keeping tension in the abdomen and keeping the upper back nice and tight, straightening the knees until you return to standing in the starting position.
  • Squeeze the glutes in the last 1/4 upward movement to maintain engagement and help with balance.

Coaching Points

Do not let the weight drift over the midline when doing Single Leg RDLs. You will train for more structural stability if you keep the dumbbell in front of the down leg.

Maintain the arch of the foot. When performing single-leg movements, it is very important to maintain balance to yield all the benefits of single-leg exercises.

It is important for the lifter to maintain a neutral spine, maintaining tension in the abdomen and upper back.


Kettlebell Swing


Kettlebell Swing

Equipment Needed

  • Kettlebell (you can also use a dumbbell by grabbing the end of it)

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • Approach the kettlebell with a stance slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Take a deep breath, slightly bend the knees, hinge at the waist, and squeeze the kettlebell with both hands.
  • Maintain a neutral spine, eyes focused on something just in front of you.
  • Initiate the movement by pulling the dumbbell off the ground and into the “power position”.
  • The power position is where the hips are flexed (loaded), knees are slightly bent, and you are now going to drive the kettlebell forward.
  • Extend the hips and knees, driving the kettlebell forward.
  • The kettlebell will drift from the hip extension to about shoulder height but should not go any higher.
  • Gravity will bring the kettlebell back down.
  • Actively “pull” the kettlebell back to the power position. You should never feel loose or out of control as you swing.
  • As you pull the kettlebell and prepare for the next rep, remember to keep a tight abdomen and upper back.
  • This movement is fast and works on rapid force development via hip and knee extension.

Coaching Points

The Kettlebell Swing is a great movement to train rapid hip extension and flexion. Remember to always keep a neutral spine (DO NOT ROUND YOUR BACK).

Choosing the proper kettlebell weight is important. Heavier is not always better. Because of the rapid nature of the kettlebell swing, the emphasis should be on velocity, speed, and power.


Hyperextensions


Hyperextensions

Equipment Needed

  • Glute-Ham Raise Machine

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • First, you are going to want to get the glute-ham raise machine adjusted to the correct length.
  • I recommend adjusting the machine so that your hip crease is at the end of the padding of the machine.
  • Locking your feet in, facing the ground, keep a neutral spine by focusing your eyes on the floor below.
  • Take in a deep breath, brace the abdomen, and keep your hands on the handles until you are ready to perform the eccentric movement.
  • Once ready, take your hands off the handles, extend your body, keep your arms at your side, and control your body down until your torso is about perpendicular to the floor.
  • Pause for 1 second in the bottom of the position to maintain stiffness in the muscles before coming back up.
  • After 1 second of the isometric hold, pull yourself back parallel to the floor, engaging the glutes, hamstrings, and low back, while also keeping stiffness in the abdomen and upper back.

Coaching Points

It is important for the lifter to maintain a neutral spine when doing Hyperextensions, maintaining tension in the abdomen and upper back. Remember to breathe in and hold the breath during eccentric (lowering your body) and breathe out as you perform the concentric movement (bringing your body back up).


Glute Ham Raise


Equipment Needed

  • Glute-Ham Raise Machine

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • First, you are going to want to get the glute-ham raise machine adjusted to the correct length.
  • I recommend adjusting the machine so that your hip crease is at the end of the padding of the machine.
  • Locking your feet in, facing the ground, keep a neutral spine by focusing your eyes on the floor below.
  • Take in a deep breath, brace the abdomen, and keep your hands on the handles until you are ready to perform the eccentric movement.
  • Once ready, take your hands off the handles, extend your body, keep your arms at your side, and control your body down until your torso is about perpendicular to the floor.
  • Pause for 1 second in the bottom of the position to maintain stiffness in the muscles before coming back up.
  • After 1 second of the isometric hold, pull yourself back parallel to the floor, engaging the glutes, hamstrings, and low back, while also keeping stiffness in the abdomen and upper back.
  • At this point, you have completed a hyperextension.
  • From this position, you are going to keep the toes flexed up toward the shin, pull with the hamstrings, and extend the glutes until your torso is perpendicular to the ceiling.
  • Slowly lower your body back down to the parallel to the floor position to prepare for the next repetition.

Coaching Points

One of the common mistakes I’ve seen with Glute Ham Raises is athletes will pull with the hamstrings and not engage the glutes.

What this looks like is the athlete leaves their hips behind and they don’t quite get to perpendicular because they didn’t extend the hips and engage the glutes.


Reverse Hyper


Equipment Needed

  • Reverse Hyper or Glute Ham Machine

How To

  • Grab the handles of the Reverse Hyper Machine and lay your torso across the platform.
  • Set up your legs/feet with the resistance (will differ depending upon the machine)
  • Keeping your legs straight, raise them up until they are parallel to the floor.
  • Squeeze the glutes at the top and then lower the legs back down under control.
  • Repeat until all reps are completed.

Coaching Points

There are specific Reverse Hyper machines. These machines allow you to add weight and lift the legs with added resistance.

If you don’t have access to a Reverse Hyper machine, you can use a regular Glute Ham Machine to do Reverse Hypers. To add resistance, you can hold a medicine ball in between your feet.


Banded Good Mornings


Equipment Needed

  • None

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Stand on a resistance band and pull it up over the head and across the back of the shoulders.
  • Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, hands holding and securing the band in place.
  • Put a slight bend in the knee and pull the shoulder blades back.
  • Now, hinge at the hips by pushing the hips back and bending at the waist. Push your knees out slightly as you descend.
  • Keep the back slightly arched throughout the movement.
  • Continue the hinge until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings.
  • Stand back up tall and push the hips forward to the starting position.
  • Repeat until all reps are completed.

Coaching Points

Banded Good Mornings can serve as a warm-up movement or as a strength-building exercise, usually as part of a circuit.

Listen to your body. Depending on your hamstring (and sometimes glute or low back) flexibility, you may be able to lower down quite far or not very much at all. The key is to move just to the edge of your range of motion. Don’t try to force anything.


Stability Ball Leg Curl


Stability Ball Leg Curl (1)

Equipment Needed

  • Stability ball (Diameter is based on height but a 65 cm diameter should be good)

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • Lie down on your back and almost fully extend your legs.
  • Place your heels on the ball.
  • Drive your elbows into the floor and keep your abdomen tight. Drive your heels into the ball.
  • Drive your hips to the ceiling and engage your glutes.
  • Keeping your core nice and tight, pull the ball under your butt as much as possible.
  • At the top of this movement, keep the glutes engaged and core tight.
  • Engaging the hamstrings, roll the ball back until your body is almost fully straight.

Coaching Points

Make sure the stability ball is properly inflated when doing Stability Ball Leg Curls. If it is not, the muscles we are training will not engage fully.

Remember to always squeeze with the glutes and actively engage the hamstrings. Do not round the back and push your belly to the sky. Keep the anterior core locked in throughout the movement.


Floor Slider Leg Curl


Equipment Needed

  • Furniture Sliders (Big enough to fit the heel of your foot on)

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • Lie down on your back and bend your knees at about 90 degrees.
  • Place the sliders under the heels of your feet.
  • Drive your elbows into the floor and keep your abdomen tight.
  • Drive your hips to the ceiling and engage your glutes.
  • Keeping your core nice and tight, slowly slide your heels away from your body until your knees are almost fully extended.
  • At the end range of this movement, your body should be straight, hips up, and core engaged.
  • Engaging the hamstrings, pull your heels back to the starting position and squeeze the glutes to resume the starting position.

Coaching Points

One of the most important points about this movement is the surface you are sliding on and the type of slider you’re using. I personally like these Super Sliders with a hard plastic bottom. They are big enough for even large feet and I’ve had the most luck with them on multiple surfaces. (They’re also super cheap)

The furniture slide should freely move with little resistance, I would say carpet is ideal if available. If there is resistance, this may affect your technique and coordination.

Remember to always squeeze with the glutes and actively engage the hamstrings. Do not round the back and push your belly to the sky. Keep the anterior core locked in throughout Floor Slider Leg Curls.


Supermans


Equipment Needed

  • None

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Lay on your stomach with arms stretched out overhead.
  • Contract the low back and glutes and raise the chest, arms and legs (thighs) off the ground.
  • Squeeze and hold for a one count and then lower back down to the ground.
  • Repeat until all reps are completed.

Coaching Points

Take your time and don’t rush through the movement. Squeeze the top of each rep and lower yourself back to the ground under control. Too often I see athletes just quickly go through the motions with Supermans – focus on each rep to get the max benefit.

Final Thoughts

Glute Bridges are an amazing exercise for engaging and developing the glutes. However, there may be times when you need an alternative for Glute Bridges.

Hopefully, this list has helped you figure out a different movement that you can use as a substitute.

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Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

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