I’m sure, that the previous exercise for buttocks (kickbacks) was not a problem for you. If you can do 20 reps on each leg in different variations – it is about time to increase the load on buttock muscles, doing shoulder bridge.
What muscles work: buttock muscles, rear hip muscles, spine muscles.
Performing technique: lay on the floor, with your legs bent (calves are almost perpendicular to the floor) and put on shoulder-width. You can cross your hands on chest or put by your body with palms down (photo 1). Pushing legs towards the floor, using your buttock muscles, raise the pelvis, so that your body was straight from knees to shoulders (photo 2). Fix this position for a few seconds and go back to the starting position.
Notice: don’t try to tighten your calves to buttocks at the starting position, just put them as comfortable. Keep the whole body straight, do not let your pelvis hang or stick up too much. Perform the exercise slowly, trying to feel the main working muscles. Breathe in movement rhythm: as pelvis goes up (3 seconds) – inhale, at top position make one second pause, as you go down (3 seconds) exhale. Watch your knees position, they shouldn’t spread or get together during the whole exercise.
If it is difficult for you to perform the exercise with full amplitude (especially if you are recovering from back injuries), decrease the depth by putting bent towel or other soft object under your buttocks.
If it comes easy to you (you can do at least 20 reps with proper technique), you can move on to more complicated variations:
- At the top position, keeping your body straight, get one leg off the floor and raise to the right angle between core and hip top (photo 3). After a pause switch the leg, without coming to starting position. Better place your hand along your body to keep balance.
- Try to perform this exercise, when standing on one leg at start. To do this, bend one leg in knee and hip, so that your calf was parallel to the floor. Put the base leg’s foot on your body axis. Using muscles straighten the core, without changing the inactive leg angle. Repeat for required times, then go back to the starting position and switch leg. Since the inactive leg’s muscles also get some load, always start from the weaker one. If you feel cramps in hip muscles – go back to classic technique, until your buttock muscles are string enough, and take the main part of the work.
Having mastered all the proposed variations, you can increase the training load by performing the bridge using shoulder and leg pillars.
Good books to read:
Bret Contreras. Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – Human Kinetics, 2013 – 224 p.
Kavadlo Al. Pushing the Limits: Total Body Strenght with No Equipment – Dragon Door Publications, 2013 – 224 p.
BJ Gaddour. Your Body Is Your Barbell: No Gym. Just Gravity. Build a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You in 28 Days – Rodale, 2014 – 288 p.