Girls: Start Strength Training with Bridging Exercises

Although there are several leg exercises women can use to build strength, gain muscle and tone, the two I most strongly recommend are the Two-Legged Bridge and Single-Leg Bridge. Bridge exercises not only test your core strength, they also work your glutes, hamstrings, adductors and hip flexor muscles. All of these muscles must be engaged to keep you from moving. Bridge exercises are easy to learn, and you don't need expensive equipment. If you have a busy schedule and can't always make it to the gym, you can perform them anywhere.

If you are beginning a strength program for the first time, or if it's been a while since you exercised, the Two-Legged and Single-Leg Bridge are great starting points. Bridging works to build up your strength so you can easily support yourself bending over. Make them a good progression before trying more advanced exercises, where incorrect form could lead to extreme soreness or injury.

Perform these at least two or three times a week for three sets of eight to ten repetitions.

Two-Legged Bridge

  • Lie down on back with hands at sides and palms flat
  • Bend knees so feet are flat on floor and in line with knees
  • Pull stomach in toward spine; this will stabilize the spine and work the abdominal muscles
  • Tighten glutes
  • Slowly raise hips until they are completely off ground; body should form a straight line from knees to hips to shoulders
  • During the exercise, hips should not sag or slump; maintain straight-line position
  • Slowly come back to starting position and relax

To increase difficulty:

  • Raise toes and keep heels on ground while knees are in bent position and hips are raised
  • Hold up position for slow count of eight to 10 before returning to starting position
  • Keep stomach in and glutes tight while slowly returning to starting position
Watch NFL RB Willis McGahee perform the Two-Legged Glute Bridge.

Single Leg Bridge

Progress to this more difficult variation. Perform bridge with one leg held up in the air and the other leg bent.

  • Lie down on back with hands at sides and palms flat
  • Bend knees so feet are flat on floor and in line with knees
  • Pull stomach in toward spine; this will stabilize the spine and work the abdominal muscles
  • Tighten glutes
  • Raise one leg as high as possible; bottom of foot should face sky; keep raised leg as straight as possible
  • Slowly raise hips until they are completely off ground; body should form straight line from knees to hips to shoulders
  • Hips should not sag or slump; maintain straight-line position
  • Slowly come back to starting position and relax
  • Switch legs

To increase difficulty:

  • Add resistance by raising toes and keeping heels on ground
  • Place box, book or ball under bent leg

Watch the Cal State baseball team perform Single-Leg Glute Bridges.

Topics: GLUTES | CORE | EXERCISE | HEELS | STABILIZE | STOMACH | SPINE

Raymond Tucker Raymond Tucker - Raymond Tucker, CSCS, a Level 1 Track Coach certified by the United States Track and Field Association and Level 1 FMS certified by Functional Movement Systems, holds a doctorate in...
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