How to Perform the Bridge Exercise

Two Parts:Doing the Bridge ExerciseDoing the Bridge Pose in Yoga

The bridge exercise is a back bend, a core strengthener, and a balance pose all in one. The regular bridge exercise requires you to move your hips up toward the ceiling, while the yoga bridge pose requires you to extend your rib cage closer to your front body. Whichever form of the bridge you choose, though, you'll be getting a great workout for your hips, glutes, core, and hamstrings. If you want to know how to do the bridge exercise, see Step 1 to get started.

Part 1
Doing the Bridge Exercise

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    Lie down on your back. It's recommended that you use a yoga mat for this exercise, but any padded floor will do. You don't want to hurt yourself by doing the bridge on a hard surface. As you lie down, make sure to keep your knees bent and hip distance apart, and the soles of your feet planted firmly on the floor. Walk your heels back as close to your buttocks as possible. If it is easier, scoot your buttocks toward your heels. You'll need to use the strength of your feet and your glutes to help you lift up.
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    Keep your arms at your sides. You can lie with your elbows turned inward and your palms up, just a few inches away from your hips to help stabilize your core. Draw your shoulder blades together to pull your shoulders back toward the floor. Alternately, you can also place your hands and your elbows down. This can offer you a bit more support and will protect your wrists as you lift up.
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    Lift your hips toward the ceiling. As you do this, make sure to tilt your pelvis and to pull your belly button toward your spine to engage your transverse abdomens. Press your feet into the floor and lift your hips to the ceiling as high as is comfortable. Think of it as lifting your hips to the sky or the ceiling. As you lift, you should squeeze your buttocks to make them more firm, but not harden them too much.
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    Keep your knees and thighs parallel. Do not let them splay out to the side or you can injure your knees and your back. Keep your shoulders on the floor to protect your neck. Remember to pull your shoulders into the mat as you lift up.
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    Hold the pose for 5 full breaths and release back to the start position. Make sure to relax your rib cage as you do this. Gently lower yourself down, doing it slowly so you don't collapse onto your back and neck. Slide your feet down a bit until you are comfortably on the floor.
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    Perform the exercise in reps of 10 lifts. You can repeat this three times to get the benefit of a good workout.
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    Mix it up. Extend one leg straight and perform the same lifting motion. Make sure you hold your weight in the heal of the bent knee. Bridge up keeping your hips parallel.
    • Alternately, you can use the same position, but move your hips up for one second, lower them almost all the way down, and repeat this 25 times to get a nice solid workout for your core and your glutes.
    • Alternately, you can lift your hips all the way in the air and then just pulse up there for 25 seconds, 25 times, before bringing it all the way down and repeating the exercise for 2 more reps.
    • You can even do a bit of both, mixing up traditional lifting for 10 reps followed by pulsing for 10 reps.

Part 2
Doing the Bridge Pose in Yoga

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    Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip distance apart. Your toes should point straight forward, and your arms should be out at your sides, just a few inches away from your hips, with your palms down. Keep your chin away from your sternum so you don't injure your neck when you lift off the ground.
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    Press your weight into your feet. You'll need the strength in your feet to help your hips lift off the floor. As you do this, relax your glutes (your thigh muscles) instead of tightening them up, which may be tempting. As your hips come up, your shoulders and back should press down more deeply into the mat. As you lift your hips up, you should inhale to gain strength and energy.
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    Interlock your hands as you move your torso and lower back up further. You should keep moving upwards until your middle and upper back are at the height of your knees. You can press into the inner edges of your feet to make sure that your knees and legs are parallel and so that your legs don't flop open. As you move your hands up under your back, interlock them and use the pressure of your hands to help you get a nice lift. You can press down and back toward your hands to get that nice, deep stretch in your back.
    • As you move up, you can lift your chin a bit away from your sternum, while pressing the top of your sternum toward your chin. Try to broaden your shoulder blades, creating a space at the base of your neck as you lift upwards. Just make sure to do everything gently to protect your neck; the movement of your chin directly affects the pressure on your neck.
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    Release carefully. You have to slowly ease out of the bridge pose as you exhale, so you don't injure your neck and back. Slowly roll down onto your back without straining your neck and let your feet flop out to the side so you can rest with one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. You can repeat this exercise three times, holding your bridge for ten breaths each time, or you can even move on to the full wheel pose, which is also known as the backbend.
    • When you come out of the pose, you can hug your knees into your chest and roll up and down a bit, massaging your back.
    • In yoga, the bridge pose is typically one of the last poses that you will do during a practice, so it helps you move forward into relaxation and prepares you to enter shavasana, the final pose of a yoga practice.


  • You can perform several variations of the bridge.
  • Try clasping your hands together beneath your buttocks for an additional challenge.
  • Sit on an exercise ball and walk your feet forward until your shoulders and head rest on the ball for a stability bridge. You can also extend each leg in this pose.
  • Rise up on your toes and extend 1 leg parallel to the floor or up towards the ceiling.
  • Lift a foot and extend your leg toward the ceiling. Clasp your hands under your buttocks and let your leg drift out to the side then back to center.
  • Lift 1 of your feet and extend the leg parallel to the floor. Hold for 5 breaths and switch to the other leg.

Things You'll Need

  • Yoga mat

Article Info

Categories: Warm Ups Stretching and Flexibility