Butt Bridge Exercise
The butt bridge -- or hip bridge -- is a body-weight exercise performed as you lie on the floor on your back. In the basic version, you lift your buttocks up as high as you can while keeping your pelvis in a neutral position, without hyperextending your lower spine. Fitness professionals recommend this exercise for healthy individuals to strengthen the hips and stabilize the trunk.
What Bridge Does
The hip bridge strengthens your buttocks while decreasing the tightness in your hip flexors and surrounding tissues, according to Michael Clark, CEO of the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Variations of the bridge improve core stability and body awareness, allowing you to progress to more advanced strength and balance exercises. For the basic exercise, you don't need any equipment.
Several types of bridge exercises have been developed. The one-leg bridge trains one side of your hips and one leg and is based on the same position as the basic hip bridge. Lift one leg straight up, then push your hips off the ground with the opposite hip.
You can also do the bridges on a stability ball. Lie on the ball on your upper back and the back of your head. Lift your hips as high as you can, and maintain balance on the ball.
A second stability ball bridge exercise involves putting your calves and feet on the ball and lifting your hips. Place your arms at your sides for balance.
Bridges do not decrease hip fat, because the fat-burning process occurs in your entire body, not in any specific areas. If you wish to decrease body fat, train your entire body with different methods, exercise at a high intensity and maintain a balanced diet. Weight loss occurs when you expend more calories than you consume.
Anthony Carey, founder of Function First in San Diego, recommends a couple of techniques for improving your form in the bridge exercise. Carey, whose company specializes in exercise-based pain-relief techniques, says that if your knees tend to bow out, you can place a yoga block or firm cushion between your thighs and squeeze it together. If your knees move in, wrap a nonelastic strap around your thighs and push outward as you do the bridge.
If you have low back pain caused by a pinched nerve or a herniated disc, this exercise may make your condition worse. Consult with a medical professional before starting any exercise program.
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.