Often people master bilateral exercises and jump right into unilateral exercises as a means of progressing themselves. For certain movements however, a transitional exercise can help ensure that form is maintained and the right muscles are contributing to stabilizing and/or producing movement.
This is especially true for glute bridging exercises.
Here is a regular Glute Bridge.
For this exercise, it is important to use your glutes (gluteus maximus primarily) to extend your hips. Your pelvis should also remain neutral via good core engagement.
Often when people attempt to go directly into a single leg variation of this exercise they end up losing pelvic stability and their hips will rotate as they lift up. Another common occurrence is for people to overuse their hamstrings and underuse their glutes during basic bridging patterns – which can become especially prominent when the load exceeds the strength capacity of the individual.
To avoid feeding this compensation we use the bridge variation demonstrated in the video below to help transition our clients from a bilateral bridge to a single leg variation.
The benefit of having your non-working leg supported under a ball (you can also use a bench or chair) is that you still have access to use that leg as needed to maintain good form. We like to cue people to make sure that the side with the foot on the ground is performing as much work as possible – offloading as much as needed to maintain form by applying pressure on the other leg.
As you progress you can slowly use less support on the leg on the ball until you can properly perform a single bridge.
A similar concept for similar reasons can be applied to a hip thrust.
Often people lack the stability and/or strength to be able to perform both the concentric (lifting hips up) and eccentric (lower hips down) phase of this the single leg hip thrust variation. How we bridge this bridge is we have clients perform their hip thrust with both legs on the concentric phase. Once their hips are fully extended, we then instruct them to lift one leg up and lower down just on the one leg.
Since we are generally stronger in the eccentric phase of a movement this can be a nice transition that will help teach you how to stabilize during all phases (including the concentric) while progressively building up your strength and motor control to execute a single leg variation with proficiency.
We normally start by alternating sides and progress to performing all the lowers on one side consecutively. This same concept can be applied when trying to progress bilateral weighted or banded hip thrusts to single leg weighted or banded hip thrusts.
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