Use the Glute Bridge Walkout to Crush Your Posterior Chain
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
The glute bridge walkout is one of my favorite glute and hamstring isolation exercises as it crushes the posterior chain in a very unique fashion. They’re really quite simple. Hold an isometric glute bridge then perform small deliberate steps one at a time as you walk your feet back and forth. Here is one of my awesome NPC figure athletes Leslie Petch demonstrating several intense variations.
The glute bridge walkout requires greater stability as the staggered walking motion can cause the hips to shift, wiggle, and sag unless the athlete aggressively resists these forces. The effect to the core and hip stabilizers is similar to a marching glute bridge (marching in place) yet exponentially more intense. That’s because the walkout version involves a more difficult position as the farther you walk the feet out, the more tension you create through the posterior chain due to a longer lever position. In addition, the closer position targets the glutes more so while the stretched or elongated position targets the lower hamstrings to a greater extent. Over the course of an entire set this allows the lifter to emphasize the entire posterior rather than just one isolated area.
Barbell Glute Bridge Walkout
Besides providing additional loading and tension, performing glute bridge walkouts with a barbell requires further core and hip stability as the barbell will shift and wiggle in an almost-uncontrollable fashion unless smooth mechanics are used throughout the drill. In addition if one hip is stronger (which typically results in one hip sinking or sagging more than the other) the barbell will provide immediate feedback to the lifter as it will have a tendency to tilt and shift to one side.
In fact this is one of the quickest and most effective methods I’ve used to assess asymmetry in the posterior chain as the barbell walkout immediately exposes it. Additionally, if one side is stronger than the other, the movement will look and feel very lopsided resembling something that looks more like a limping gait rather than a crisp and deliberate walkout. Unless you’re working on your latest “gangsta stroll” impersonation or peg-leg pirate waddle, this asymmetrical firing pattern is highly undesirable as it’s a surefire recipe for further aberrations to body mechanics not to mention potential injury.
Slide Board Variation
There are three benefits of using the slide board to perform glute bridge walkouts.
1. Performing the glute bridge walkout on the slide board makes the movement incredibly intense as you’re essentially resisting knee extension forces even further (as a result of the anti-sliding effect). This places even greater stress on the posterior chain particularly the hamstrings. If you're looking for a movement to crush your backside as well as facilitate strict movement and core stability, you'll want to give this a go. Just be forewarned as the slideboard and walkout combination will most likely cause your posterior chain to cramp the first several times you perform it due to the intense level of muscle activation and mechanical tension. On a side note you can also create a similar effect with Valslide discs, sliders, or any other slick surface.
2. The slide-board variation also helps to ensure that the athlete does not slide their feet when performing glute bridge walkouts (a common compensation patter) as this exaggerates the sliding forces of the surface even more so. As a result the lifter is forced to use small, strict, and deliberate steps with each foot as anything less will result in your feet slipping out and your butt crashing to the floor.
3. The slide board also requires intense foot, ankle, and shin muscle activation to keep the feet from sliding. When you examine the way most lifters perform glute bridges they typically have poor foot and ankle alignment as you’ll often notice one or both toes flaring out with very little motor control of their lower extremities. With this anti-sliding glute bridge walkout you’ll be forced to activate the muscles around the feet, ankles, and shins in order to achieve proper alignment through the foot and ankle complex. Anything less will result in the feet sliding out in random directions.
Glute Bridge Walkout with Lateral Band Resistance
This variation involves an abduction or anti valgus component, which makes the movement deceptively more challenging. That’s because the glute medius muscles and outer hips work synergistically with the larger glute maximus muscles. By placing a small band around the thighs the lifter is forced to recruit their smaller outer glute and hip muscles which in turn results in greater activation throughout the entire posterior chain. This also does wonders for helping to eliminate valgus knee and ankle collapse on other lifts like squats and deadlifts as well as jumping and running mechanics. As an added bonus the bands also help to apply extra resistance to whichever leg is stepping out thereby producing even greater activation to the posterior chain.
General Recommendations and Training Protocols
Glute bridge walkouts are deceptively intense and difficult. Unless you have glutes of steel, I recommend starting with bodyweight and progressing from there. Because each repetition involves significantly greater time under tension than most glute exercises (back and forth is one rep and usually lasts 7 seconds), several sets of 5-8 total walkouts per set should suffice for stimulating functional strength and hypertrophy in the entire posterior chain.
Note On Ankle Dorsiflexion
You’ll notice that each of the glute bridge walkout variations is performed with a dorsiflexed foot and ankle position. The dorsiflexed position is something I recommend using on nearly all exercises when possible as it helps to ensure that the calves are not taking over and tends to create a stronger muscle mind connection to the posterior chain. For athletes, it also does wonders for improving sprinting and running mechanics as dorsiflexion plays a key role not only in gait and postural control but also in sprinting speed and foot and ankle positioning/shock absorption.