Why Doing Glute Bridges Will Never Help Your Squat

The glute bridge and hip thrust are support workouts frequently utilized in an effort to enhance the glutes for the squat. They are likewise made use of on the planet of rehab for “underactive” glutes.

The objective of this post is to break down the practical mechanics of the bridge in contrast to the squat, and describe how it’s possible to train the bridge, yet still be not able to hire the glutes throughout the squat.

(From now on I will utilize “bridge” to cover using both the glute bridge and hip thrust).

How the Muscles Work

Prior to we examine the squat and the bridge, we should start with concepts that enable us to comprehend how muscles operate in a separated workout like the bridge versus the substance 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?”

A great deal of workout science issues enhancing muscles in a separated method. This separated technique is based upon a concentric muscular contraction that reduces and produces movement. When it comes to the bridge, the glute concentrically agreements to produce hip extension.

In a short article called Hip Thrust and Glute Science, Bret Contreras went over the science of maximally hiring the glutes, consisting of a research study on the ideal quantities of hip and knee flexion needed for the best EMG readings. The function of this post is not to question his approaches, as they are appropriate for the function and objective for which they are utilized – optimal glute contraction for optimum hypertrophic gains. Rather, this post will demonstrate how the bridge is not fix for enhancing glute function in our objective, the squat.

The glute bridge has actually been apparently established more with using bands around the knees to press out versus (hip kidnapping) and turning the toes (external rotation). The theory is that carrying out all 3 concentric glute muscle actions at the same time (extension, kidnapping, external rotation) will make sure optimal EMG activity 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 high EMG reading is thought about of terrific significance in regards to how excellent a workout is at hiring a muscle. The bridge has a high EMG activity; for that reason, it ought to teach our glutes to work when we carry out the more practical, compound squat.

So why doesn’t this take place?

How the Body Functions

In the bridge, you aren’t teaching the glute to squat, however just to hip extend. The bridge operates in the lying face-up position, with a nerve system that is as excellent as sleeping. Relate this to extended bed rest, where muscles atrophy and individuals get weaker due to the fact that we have actually lost our battle versus gravity, which is the important things that promotes low-grade consistent muscle activation.

When we rest, we are no longer combating gravity. This suggests the nerve system throughout the body is experiencing little to no activation. So when the hips are driven up, the only neurological drive goes to the glutes, for this reason the high EMG reading for the bridge.

When we stand under load prepared to squat, the quantity of pressure the entire nerve system experiences is higher than that of the bridge. As we start our descent and the hips are approaching the flooring, there is neurological activity going to every muscle of the body. As we squat, muscles within the hip are all reducing and extending at various times, discovering how to work as a group to get rid of both gravity and the load that is taking a trip with momentum.

This is among the essential aspects regarding why the glute bridge doesn’t transfer to squatting. The body works as one total system, with a big neurological discussion going on in between the muscles to finish the job. When we carry out a glute bridge, the glutes are discovering to work in seclusion, and there is little discussion with surrounding muscular pals. As a result, when we stand and carry out a squat, the glutes no longer understand when they require to agreement relative to the other muscles working throughout the substance crouching 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 control all human movement. Conscious muscle contractions come from isolated movements, but during functional (multi-jointed) movement it is impossible to tell every muscle to work. You can’t choose the sequencing of muscle firing patterns because there is more than one muscle working. It is impossible to consciously control the complexity of that sequencing. Even if you could control the sequencing, you would be so distracted from the task at hand that you would probably fail the lift anyway.

How the Mechanics Work

The sequencing of muscles is not the only contrasting factor, the mechanics are also different. In the bridge, the glute is starting from a point of no activity and then shortening. The glute has stored energy, but there is no stretch-shortening cycle like there is in the squat.

During the down phase of the squat, the glute is moving through hip flexion, adduction (it starts in a relatively abducted position, but continues to move inward as you squat), and internal rotation. These are the natural mechanics of the squat descent.

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

The coupled mechanics of the knee are flexion and internal rotation, so an internally rotating femur occurs in the eccentric phase of the squat. Please note, I am not saying the knees kiss each other. If the knee tracks over the foot, then this is internal rotation of the hip.

The down phase creates a lengthening of the glute in all three planes motion (hip flexion in the sagittal plane, hip adduction in the frontal plane, and internal rotation in the transverse plane). This lengthening process creates an elastic load that enables the glute to explosively and concentrically extend, abduct, and externally rotate the hip, allowing us to stand.

“[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 are not replicated during a bridge, as there is no stretch-shortening occurring due to the limited range of motion the bridge is performed within. One effect of the bridge is glute tightness, meaning the glute can only contract in a shortened range of motion, not in a huge range of motion like the squat. This limited 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 require the glute to help us.

Enter the Lunge

To truly assist the activation of the glute, the closest exercise to the squat is the lunge. The joint motions of the hip are almost identical – hip flexion, internal rotation, and adduction on the descent of motion, allowing the glute to work through its stretch-shortening cycle. However, there is a small difference between the squat and the lunge. In the lunge, we have ground reaction force as the foot hits the floor, so the mechanics are not fully identical as the squat has a top-down loading pattern.

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

But in the lunge the glute is learning how to work with all the other muscles of the hip in a coordinated and synchronized sequence of motion. The joint angles are similar to that of the squat (on the front leg) and, importantly, the ankle, knee and spine are learning how to move with the hips through that motion as well. 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, so the correct motion pattern and muscle sequence is not being learned.

“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 likewise allows each leg to work independently and get strong in its own right. I have yet to assess a squat that is 100% balanced. We all have a leg that is stronger and that we favor when we squat. We must try and balance the system.

So, go forth and lunge! However doing thirty lunges is not enough to create desired changes to motor pattern recruitment. Part two of this article will delve into the programming required to make significant changes to your motor patterns.

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Recommendations:

1. Contreras, B. “Hip Thrust and Glute Science.” The Glute Man. Last customized 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.

Picture 1 courtesy ofShutterstock.

Picture 2, 3, & 4 courtesy ofCrossFit Empirical.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.