Fitness doesn’t have to be complicated, and sometimes it’s the simplest of moves that can be the most effective. We spoke to David Diaz, owner of Fitness Together Edgewater located outside of Denver, about one of his favorite simple moves — the hip bridge — an exercise found in workout routines for the beginner all the way to the advanced.
"The hip bridge is a great exercise to strengthen the glutes, including the muscles around the hips, abductors and hamstrings. Doing the hip bridge helps you develop those stabilizing muscles that will assist you in skiing, walking on ice and having better overall body control and balance,” said Diaz.
He walked us through how to properly perform the move …
How to do a hip bridge
Put out a mat. Then lie down in a supine position on your back on the mat. Bend your knees at 45 degrees and plant your feet firmly on the ground about hip-width apart. Tuck your chin to your chest and slowly lift your hips forward and off the mat while squeezing your glutes. Keep lifting until your spine is straight and your hips are in line with your knees, making sure your shoulders are holding your weight (not your neck or head). Exhale...
Depending on your fitness level, you could perform anywhere from 5 to 20 repetitions. Diaz says doing three sets of 12 is a great general guideline to begin.
Ways to advance the hip bridge
The hip bridge is a fundamental move and can be the basis for more advanced exercises, he says. First off, you could add a pulsing repetition at the top of the hip bridge or hold for a longer amount of time at the highest point, to add more of an isometric challenge.
Next up, you could add a resistance band around your knees to increase the challenge. Or you could try elevating your heels onto a bench or some sort of platform, which will create a more intense environment for lifting your hips. You could also try placing your feet and heels on a fitness ball of any size and completing the hip lift. In this variation, as you lift the hips, you’ll need to dig your heels into the ball and will feel even more of the core having to engage and stabilize to keep the body still.
Finally, you could try the single-leg hip bridge.
How to do a single-leg hip bridge
Set up just as you would for a double-leg standard hip bridge. However, lift one leg off the ground and straighten it out to 180 degrees with the toe pointed. Place your palms facing down by your sides and press them into the ground. From this position, lift your hips up and forward off the ground, trying to keep your hips level and even. The leg that is bent will feel the most pressure and challenge, as will the core. Exhale on the way up, hold for 1 to 2 seconds at the top, engaging the glutes, then slowly lower to the starting point as you inhale and repeat.
Depending on your fitness level, you could try doing anywhere from 10 to 20 repetitions on each side, for three sets total, says Diaz. However, he noted that you always want to listen to your body and only do as many as feels right for you.
What to look out for when doing the hip bridge
According to Diaz, some people may feel their lower back or hips working more than their glutes while performing the hip bridge, and this may mean that they need some help stretching and mobilizing the hip flexors first, where there may be too much tightness.
When should you do the hip bridge
Diaz says the hip bridge can be done at the beginning, middle or end of the workout if needed. However, you should always get the body ready first with a warm-up and some dynamic stretches before attempting it. “You want to get the heart pumping first,” he says