In a way, the bridge – also known as the butt lift in a fine example of exercise lingo honesty – turns the tried-and-true squat on its head. Take your pick of either exercise and you'll shed a few calories and have a little fun as you tone and define your lower body. There's no reason you can't have your cake and eat it too – metaphorically speaking – by including both exercises in your lower-body regimen to really whip those hips into shape.
The classic bridge puts your upper body flat on the ground as you raise your hips high in the air, a move that wouldn't be out of place on one of your mom's spandex-heavy exercise tapes. Simple as the exercise looks, it puts the burn squarely on the abs, butt and hips, helping tone and define these all-important muscle groups. Bridges also engage the hamstrings and erector spinae, a muscle group that spans from the bottom of your neck to your tailbone, as secondary muscles.
Shaping with Squats
Few exercises tone up your lower body more than the classic squat. While the bridge – an isolation exercise – puts its laser-fine focus on the abs, butt and hips, squats work these muscles alongside the thighs, calves and shins. In short, this compound exercise has you covered if you're looking to define below the waistline. Like bridges, squats also engage the erector spinae, not to mention oft-neglected butt and leg muscles like the gluteus minimus, soleus and gastrocnemius.
Although one brings your butt to the ground and the other lifts it in the air, both bridges and squats act as calisthenic body-weight exercises, and to put it plainly, regular physical activity such as this comes with a whole host of benefits. Squats and bridges might not do it by themselves, but as part of a consistent exercise program, they help prevent common – and serious – issues such as heart disease and diabetes, boost your day-to-day energy, deepen your sleep and even reduce stress. Suffice to say, a toned lower body and a spike in energy can't hurt your sex life, either.
Exercises like squats and bridges won't burn as many calories as a 5K or laps in the pool, but doing body-weight workouts like these on a regular basis will help regulate your weight. Every calorie counts, and according to HealthStatus' calories burned calculator, 30 minutes of moderate calisthenic activity such as bridges or squats melts off a little more than 150 calories for a 150-pound woman. Bump up the intensity of your exercise to burn as many as 275 calories per half hour.
Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.