So let’s talk about weak glutes…Not good, guys. Nobody likes a flat, squishy butt and a lot of knee, hip and lower back injuries can be attributed to having weak glutes and hamstrings. But that all can be fixed and one of the most effective exercises you can bring into your training is the Barbell Glute Bridge. This exercise will not only help you be on your way to thicker & stronger glutes, but it will also help improve your deadlift and squat as well.
Golden Rule #1 – Alignment Is Everything
If your lower back hurts when training with this exercise it’s because your set-up is sloppy. The Glute Bridge is much more than just laying under the barbell and thrusting your hips into the air.
Believe it or not, when setting up for the exercise you need to compact your entire body as much as you can, similar to when getting into position for a bench press and by this I mean you need to tightly pack your shoulders and flex your entire core.
It’s also important to make sure the heels of your feet are close to your glutes as well.
Now, if done correctly, your body should feel so tight and compact that when you do finally push the barbell off the floor you can focus all your energy into thrusting your hips and your shoulders and feet will stay in place and not “slide” forward or back.
Golden Rule #2 – THE NEED FOR SPEED
The Barbell Glute Bridge is an explosive movement meant for pushing HEAVY weight which is the reason why it can help improve your squat and deadlift as well. This is because the Glute Bridge heavily relies on you being able to effectively activate your glutes and hamstrings together to maximize the power in your hip thrust which is the same as getting off the ground on a deadlift and out of the “hole” on a squat.
But don’t just go “up and down” without control. Always make a conscious effort to flex and squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement as hard as you can while hyperextending your hips. In fact, the biggest mistake I see with this exercise is when people go “too heavy” and are not able to lock-out at the top of the movement.
Half reps have no place here, so just don’t do them!
Golden Rule #3 – Pay Attention To Your Feet & Breathing
Trust me, as you start lifting heavier and heavier weight your feet are going to slide forward every 3 – 4 reps. Not by much…but enough to start to transfer the load from your glutes to more hamstrings and lower back which will start to become troublesome as you increase the weight.
So as you continue to train with the Barbell Glute Bridge, always keep a bit of focus on where your feet are and if it feels like they’re starting to slide forward just stop and “reset” by bringing your heels back closer to your glutes.
Also, just like any big compound lift, you should be taking IN a breath and holding it to help brace your core on every rep and don’t release that breath until the rep is over. Personally, I reset my breath on every rep when training with this exercise, especially when moving big weight.
Bonus Tip: NEVER USE A BAR PAD
Some of you are going to be upset about this, but you need to hear me out. Using a pad when doing this exercise places the barbell more over your HIPS instead of over the meat of your thighs. In fact, most people will actually place the barbell DIRECTLY on their hips BECAUSE they are using the pad for cushion. NO! THIS IS WRONG!
To execute proper form you need to do all the previous mentioned rules and before you are about to push the weight off the floor you need to lock out your arms and push the barbell into your thighs as hard as you can. If the barbell is loose, it WILL hurt. But if you are keeping it in place by locking out your arms there will be no pain.
HOWEVER, just like when you learned to squat properly with no bar pad and your traps got a little sore at first from the weight, you may experience the same thing here. But as you continue to train with the Glute Bridge, soon you will be pushing big weight with no pad and no pain!