When it comes to studying, training or anything else involving the glutes, Bret Contreras is the most knowledgeable resource around. He truly is The Glute Guy. As Contreras’s previous studies have shown, the Glute Bridge, Hip Thrust and Pull Through are the best muscular exercises for the glutes.
These are great exercises that should be in most, if not all, programs. While they should be a staple, they still must vary some to provide the most benefit, so it is necessary to use them as main and accessory lifts. With this in mind, here are some Glute Bridge variations that can be used as accessory movements in programs for postural work and glute activation.
Core Engaged Glute Bridge
Core engaged protocol involves wrapping a band around a pole and pulling it taut over your body with outstretched arms. To do this, you must recruit your core muscles more than you normally would without the added tension. Once the band is pulled into the proper position, perform a Glute Bridge and hold at the top in an isometric position. From there, breathe in and out for the prescribed number of breaths. This exercise promotes improved glute and core muscle recruitment.
Shoulder-Elevated Hip Thrust with a Pull-Through
From interning with Cressey Sports Performance, I believe a 12-inch elevation feels best when performing any Shoulder-Elevated Hip Thrust. Due to how this exercise must be performed, the difference in boxes used should be 12 inches, the one under the shoulders 12 inches higher than the one under the feet. Alternatives to this setup would involve using a belt squat machine.
This move is a combination of the Hip Thrust and a Pull-Through. To perform it, place a band under your hips and anchor it down. If it is necessary to use a cable machine, pull a cable to the same area while facing the machine. From there, thrust you hips up and either hold as an isometric or perform it for reps. Holding it as an isometric promotes focusing on shoulder position due to the pull of the bands. Make sure your shoulders are set back and down throughout the movement. This adds load to the upper body for what is mainly a lower-body movement. Using this as an accessory exercise is a great way to provide extra glute activation and posture improvement.
Anti-Rotation Shoulder-Elevated Hip Thrust
The last variation adds a Paloff Press element to the Hip Thrust. When you use a cable or a band and pull it from the side, you must resist flexing and rotating your hips. This can be performed by pulling the band or cable from a height equal to or lower than your body.
Thrust your hips normally while holding a cable or band anywhere between your chest and navel right above the body. At the top, either perform a complete isometric hold or perform a Paloff Press while holding the Hip Thrust. Throughout the hold, keep your shoulders back and down for good posture. It’s best to perform this as an isometric Hip Thrust.
Add these Glute Bridge variations throughout your programming to improve glute activation, posture and core strength. They also add upper-body elements to lower-body movements. Have fun with these moves, and feel free to follow me on Instagram and Twitter to see more exercises you can add to your regimen.
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