Why Doing Glute Bridges Will Never Help Your Squat

The glute bridge and hip thrust are help workouts usually utilized in an effort to strengthen the glutes for the squat. They are additionally utilized on the earth of rehabilitation for “underactive” glutes.

The purpose of this text is to interrupt down the useful mechanics of the bridge compared to the squat, and clarify the way it’s doable to coach the bridge, but nonetheless be unable to recruit the glutes throughout the squat.

(From now on I’ll use “bridge” to cowl using each the glute bridge and hip thrust).

How the Muscles Work

Before we analyze the squat and the bridge, we should start with rules that permit us to know how muscle mass perform in an remoted train just like the bridge versus the compound motion of the squat.

“The bridge has a high EMG activity; therefore, it should teach our glutes to work when we perform the more functional, compound squat. So why doesn’t this happen?”

Quite a lot of train science considerations strengthening muscle mass in an remoted manner. This remoted methodology is predicated upon a concentric muscular contraction that shortens and creates movement. In the case of the bridge, the glute concentrically contracts to supply hip extension.

In an article known as Hip Thrust and Glute Science, Bret Contreras mentioned the science of maximally recruiting the glutes, together with a research on the optimum quantities of hip and knee flexion required for the best EMG readings. The goal of this text is to not query his strategies, as they’re appropriate for the perform and purpose for which they’re used – most glute contraction for maximal hypertrophic good points. Instead, this text will present how the bridge will not be appropriate for enhancing glute perform in our purpose, the squat.

The glute bridge has been supposedly developed additional with using bands across the knees to push out towards (hip abduction) and turning the toes (exterior rotation). The concept is that performing all three concentric glute muscle actions concurrently (extension, abduction, exterior rotation) will guarantee most EMG exercise of the glute.

“Conscious muscle contractions come from isolated movements, but during functional (multi-jointed) movement it is impossible to tell every muscle to work.”

A excessive EMG studying is taken into account of nice significance by way of how good an train is at recruiting a muscle. The bridge has a excessive EMG exercise; subsequently, it ought to educate our glutes to work once we carry out the extra useful, compound squat.

So why doesn’t this occur?

How the Body Works

In the bridge, you aren’t educating the glute to squat, however solely to hip lengthen. The bridge works within the mendacity face-up place, with a nervous system that’s nearly as good as asleep. Relate this to extended mattress relaxation, the place muscle mass atrophy and other people get weaker as a result of we’ve misplaced our battle towards gravity, which is the factor that stimulates low-grade fixed muscle activation.

When we lie down, we’re not preventing gravity. This means the nervous system all through the physique is experiencing little to no activation. So when the hips are pushed upward, the one neurological drive goes to the glutes, therefore the excessive EMG studying for the bridge.

When we stand below load able to squat, the quantity of stress the entire nervous system experiences is larger than that of the bridge. As we start our descent and the hips are transferring towards the ground, there may be neurological exercise going to each muscle of the physique. As we squat, muscle mass inside the hip are all shortening and lengthening at totally different instances, studying learn how to work as a group to beat each gravity and the load that’s touring with momentum.

This is without doubt one of the key components as to why the glute bridge doesn’t switch to squatting. The physique works as one full system, with an enormous neurological dialog occurring between the muscle mass to finish the duty. When we carry out a glute bridge, the glutes are studying to work in isolation, and there may be little dialog with neighboring muscular associates. Consequently, once we get up and carry out a squat, the glutes not know when they should contract relative to the opposite muscle mass working throughout the compound squatting motion.

“When we perform a glute bridge, the glutes are learning to work in isolation, and there is little conversation with neighbouring muscular friends.”

The nervous system works subconsciously to manage all human motion. Conscious muscle contractions come from remoted actions, however throughout useful (multi-jointed) motion it’s unattainable to inform each muscle to work. You can’t select the sequencing of muscle firing patterns as a result of there may be multiple muscle working. It is unattainable to consciously management the complexity of that sequencing. Even in the event you may management the sequencing, you’d be so distracted from the duty at hand that you’d most likely fail the carry anyway.

How the Mechanics Work

The sequencing of muscle mass will not be the one contrasting issue, the mechanics are additionally totally different. In the bridge, the glute is ranging from some extent of no exercise after which shortening. The glute has saved vitality, however there isn’t any stretch-shortening cycle like there may be within the squat.

During the down section of the squat, the glute is transferring via hip flexion, adduction (it begins in a comparatively kidnapped place, however continues to maneuver inward as you squat), and inside rotation. These are the pure mechanics of the squat descent.

glute bridge, Squat, activation, lunges, emg, glutes, cns, hip thrust

The coupled mechanics of the knee are flexion and inside rotation, so an internally rotating femur happens within the eccentric section of the squat. Please notice, I’m not saying the knees kiss one another. If the knee tracks over the foot, then that is inside rotation of the hip.

The down section creates a lengthening of the glute in all three planes movement (hip flexion within the sagittal aircraft, hip adduction within the frontal aircraft, and inside rotation within the transverse aircraft). This lengthening course of creates an elastic load that allows the glute to explosively and concentrically lengthen, abduct, and externally rotate the hip, permitting us to face.

“[L]imited range of motion means the glute isn’t learning what to do in the hole at the bottom of the squat, which is when we really need the glute to help us.”

The above joint motions will not be replicated throughout a bridge, as there isn’t any stretch-shortening occurring as a result of restricted vary of movement the bridge is carried out inside. One impact of the bridge is glute tightness, which means the glute can solely contract in a shortened vary of movement, not in an enormous vary of movement just like the squat. This restricted vary of movement means the glute isn’t studying what to do within the gap on the backside of the squat, which is once we actually need the glute to assist us.

Enter the Lunge

To actually help the activation of the glute, the closest train to the squat is the lunge. The joint motions of the hip are nearly an identical – hip flexion, inside rotation, and adduction on the descent of motion, permitting the glute to work via its stretch-shortening cycle. However, there’s a small distinction between the squat and the lunge. In the lunge, we’ve floor response pressure because the foot hits the ground, so the mechanics will not be totally an identical because the squat has a top-down loading sample.

glute bridge, Squat, activation, lunges, emg, glutes, cns, hip thrust

But within the lunge the glute is studying learn how to work with all the opposite muscle mass of the hip in a coordinated and synchronized sequence of motion. The joint angles are just like that of the squat (on the entrance leg) and, importantly, the ankle, knee and backbone are studying learn how to transfer with the hips via that movement as properly. In the bridge, solely the hip is transferring and lengthening, with the ankle and backbone in a totally totally different place and below a unique stress than within the squat, so the proper motion sample and muscle sequence will not be being discovered.

“In the bridge, only the hip is moving and extending, with the ankle and spine in a completely different position and under a different stress than in the squat.”

The lunge additionally permits every leg to work independently and get sturdy in its personal proper. I’ve but to evaluate a squat that’s 100% balanced. We all have a leg that’s stronger and that we favor once we squat. We should try to stability the system.

So, go forth and lunge! But doing thirty lunges will not be sufficient to create desired adjustments to motor sample recruitment. Part two of this text will delve into the programming required to make important adjustments to your motor patterns.

You’ll additionally discover these articles attention-grabbing:


1. Contreras, B. “Hip Thrust and Glute Science.” The Glute Guy. Last modified April 6, 2013.

2.Worrell TW., et al. “Influence of joint position on electromyographic and torque generation during maximal voluntary isometric contractions of the hamstrings and gluteus maximus muscles.” J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2001 Dec;31(12):730-40.

Photo 1 courtesy ofShutterstock.

Photo 2, 3, & 4 courtesy ofCrossFit Empirical.

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