Shoulder Bridge Strengthens Your Glutes

Shoulder bridgeYou have probably seen part of Shoulder bridge before. I can remember seeing variations of this exercise in several VHS home exercise videos. Basically, it looks like a Hip lift with one leg lifted. In Pilates, though, we add choreography.

In many of the old exercise videos, they had you lift your hips, lift a leg, and then lower and lift your hips. It resembled a single leg hip thrust of sorts. Truthfully, that exercise is quite a bun burner. However, the ballistic up and down motion of the hips can cause some issues.

In Shoulder bridge, we lift the hips and keep them lifted throughout. In my opinion, this is what makes this exercise so effective. Unlike the other exercise, the challenge of keeping your hips lifted with the strength of one leg and glute is constant. Plus, you can quickly notice when your gluteus maximus (butt) or gluteus medius/gluteus minimus (stabilizers on the outside of your hips) start to fail. If your hips lower straight down, that’s your gluteus maximus failing; if your hips drop to one side or the other, that’s your gluteus medius/gluteus minimus failing.

Shoulder Bridge

  1. Use traditional Pilates breathing.
  2. Begin on your back with your knees bent, heels in line with your SITs bones.
  3. Engage your abdominals and inhale into the sides of your ribs.
  4. Exhale to lift your hips as you would in Hip lift.
  5. Shift your weight toward your left foot and really engage your glutes. Don’t let your hips lower or drop to one side.
  6. Inhale to lift your right leg to Table top.
  7. Exhale to reach your leg toward the ceiling with a pointed foot.
  8. Flex your foot at the ankle. Inhale and lower your right leg. The goal is that your right and left knees match up. This may not be the case. If you feel like your pelvis starts to tilt or your hips start to drop, don’t lower your leg quite as far.
  9. Point your foot at the ankle. Exhale and bring your leg back up.
  10. Do three total lower and lifts before stopping with your leg reaching toward the ceiling.
  11. Inhale to bend your right knee.
  12. Exhale to set your foot down. (Your hips are still lifted and, hopefully, at the same height as when you started.)
  13. Engage your glutes and shift your weight to your right foot. Don’t let your hips lower or drop to one side.
  14. Repeat steps 6-12 for the other side.
  15. Inhale at center. Exhale to lower your hips straight to the floor. That’s one!
  16. Do two or three reps. Make sure you alternate sides as instructed above.

Shoulder Bridge Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

Which is your favorite:  Hip rolls, Hip lift, or Shoulder bridge? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.