Glute bridges are often incorporated into a prolapse rehab programme. And for good reason! They offer a way of building core and pelvic floor strength alongside strengthening the glute muscles (besties with the pelvic floor!). Plus, if you are experiencing prolapse symptoms, being in supine (lying on your back) can be a great way of doing movement in a well-supported position.
However, if you have completed your pelvic floor rehab (improved pelvic floor strength and function), you now need to strengthen your whole body. This is best achieved by progressive overload.
What is progressive overload?
Progressive overload is the process of gradually adding challenge. This gradual adding of challenge leads to adaptation such as improved strength, power, capacity, speed etc (depending on the input).
Which is why if you are not using progressive overload, you may find your strength gains stalls and you still experience symptoms because more strength = more capacity and better able to manage pressure.
Add a resistance band to your bridges
This is a great way to add a small amount of challenge and a step up from a bodyweight glute bridge. Resistant loops (or glute loops) come in many different strengths (I’m using a super light one I found at the gym) but my favourite (and very challenging band is called a Sling Shot ).
You may still be incorporating a gentle pelvic floor lift, however, the aim of pelvic floor rehab is to ensure that your pelvic floor is more reflexive and coordinates with your breath. You may find you need this conscious lift again as you progress loads. A Blog for another time!
Adding weight to your glute bridges
Holding a dumb bell across your hips is a great way to load the glutes. The glutes are a large group of muscles and love being loaded. This can be a great way of bridging the gap between a body weight glute bridge and a barbell bridge or barbell hip thrust.
Single leg glute bridges
Whilst the single-leg glute bridge is still a bodyweight version, it can be super challenging!
It’s a great way to build stability, improve single-leg strength, and address any discrepancies between right versus left side of the pelvic floor.
You can play around with your foot positioning to feel more glutes versus more hamstrings too!
So much to play around with! Thank me later for the glute burn 🙂
Ways to progress your prolapse exercises; hip thrusts
I am a big fan of hip thrusts! Invented by a trainer called Bret Contreras, he has dedicated his career to understanding the glutes and how to build serious strength (and size) for his mostly female clients.
It’s a great exercise for my clients with prolapse because it’s well supported, takes the glutes through a larger range of movement than bridges. Plus, clients often progress quite rapidly once they start adding load.
If you are missing the “burn” of your previous training, adding some sets of high volume hip thrusts (even bodyweight hip thrusts) can be useful in getting that “I’m working hard” feeling back.
Bridge variations for prolapse exercises; elevated hip thrusts
I find these challenging and often find they work my hamstrings a little more than my glutes (which is probably due to the position of my feet..) but feet elevated hip thrusts are a fantastic variation. Lots of clients enjoy the more ‘hips higher than shoulders’ position although if you experience “queefing” which is the escape of gas from the vagina when you are inverted or upside down, you may wish to find an alternative.
How do I add these into a programme?
If you are still doing bodyweight glute bridges (and you’ve been doing them for a while, and can do lots of reps), I’d suggest starting with a band or even a dumbell. As previously mentioned, the glutes are a large group of muscles and benefit from loading.
If you’d like help bridging the gap from your prolapse rehab to strength training, be sure to check out PROJECT STRONG – my coaching programme for lifters and gym lovers with prolapse
Beth Davies is a highly experienced personal trainer and coach specialising in female pelvic health, pelvic organ prolapse and exercise. Her programmes educate, empower and support women back to training or their active life, eliminating symptoms and building strength and confidence