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Frog Pumps: A Highly Effective Bodyweight Glute Activation Drill

Hi fitness friends! Here’s what I want you to do.

  1. Get into a glute bridge position
  2. Flatten out lumbar spine
  3. Tuck neck into chest
  4. Dig elbows into ground and make fists
  5. Put bottoms of feet together and scoot heels as close to butt as possible
  6. Bridge into the air while maintaining position, repeat for desired # of reps

Frog Pumps

Essentially, you’re flexing the knees, abducting and externally rotating the hips, posteriorly tilting the pelvis, and flexing the lumbar spine, which takes the hammies and erectors out of the equation and shifts the burden almost entirely onto the glutes. This is a great regression for those who struggle to feel their glutes during hip thrusts (or squats or deadlifts for that matter). It can be used as a glute activation drill during the general warm-up prior to the strength workout (3 sets of 10 reps), or as a finisher at the end of a workout to burn out the glutes (2-3 sets of 20-30 reps).

Please watch this video for details:

 

28 Comments

  • Teri C. says:

    Love your innovations. Trying this tomorrow as a burnout at the end of my bodyweight workout in which I am retaining loaded glute work. (I’m addicted to Loaded Hip Thrusts and Glute Bridges in all of their variations thanks to you!). Keep bringin’ it, Bret. Your instruction is always insightful, interesting, and helpful. Thank you!

  • nat says:

    great advice, thank you!

  • emma bateman says:

    Brett can this be done with the head down for clients that complain of neck discomfort?

  • Jorge says:

    Hi Bret
    What do you think of doing this exercise loaded with a Dumbell or Barbell, just like if it was a Glute Bridge? Is it safe or is it okay just with bodyweight?
    Thanks for the info and the help 🙂

    • Bret says:

      Can definitely experiment with loads Jorge…a dumbbell on the hips, maybe bands around the knees, not sure how it would feel though. Give it a try and see what you think.

  • Hey bret.

    Giving this a try on myself and I’m feeling most of the move in my adductors as a stretch. Any tips on getting more activation. I’m assuming I just have to keep working on my tight as **** adductors. Ha.

    Thanks.

  • Toi says:

    Yes! Best activation exercise I’ve tried thus far.
    Does this activate upper and lower glutes to the same extend? Im trying to focus on my lower as the upper ‘bump’ is way ahead.

    Thanks Bret!

  • Herbert says:

    It’s a poor exercise Bret. Hip abduction = a tight tensor fascia latae (TFL), not what you want. TFL needs to be stretched/glutes tightened & strengthened (in a small part now your on your way to getting the illiotibial bands functioning correctly, (stretch/recoil). Take my word for this Bret, the tensor fascia latae can’t compete with the illiotibial bands. You have to keep in mind when you see people walk, jog, run, sprint etc you don’t see this amount of hip abduction ROM going on.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DQnW7Cb-1k
    ^^^ It goes against our anatomy & biomechanics, nobody by nature moves like that (laterally).
    Your never emphasize the TFL.

    • Bret says:

      Herbert, this movement doesn’t emphasize the TFL, it emphasizes the gluteus maximus. I don’t think it’s a good movement for everyone as it can be problematic for some people’s knees or hips, but for many people it works great. Same goes with other wide stance movements (PL style squats, sumo deads, etc.). I’m not a big fan of the “nature” argument either.

      • christian says:

        I’ve used this clinically for 18 months

        Interestingly I find it exceptionally useful for those with a TRUE shortness in TFL that through its superior/anterior pull on the femoral head tends to restrict internal femoral rotation and terminal hip extension.

        I’ll usually progress this to a wider base , foot flat position with a band around distal thigh. Eventually I aim to widen the base of support to position aligned with a tradition glute bridge.

        Just my observations

  • Hi Bret,

    What are your thoughts on the increased spinal cord tension caused by both the neck flexion and posterior pelvic tilt (e.g. Slump test)? Might this be an issue?

    Thanks!

    Dr. Steve

    • Bret says:

      Hi Steve, good question, I’m sure the spinal chord is obviously stretched a bit, but I don’t think it would lead to any issues, especially considering that the sciatic nerve won’t be stretched due to knees being bent. But this is not my area of specialty.

      • That is correct Bret. The sciatic nerve is not under tension due to the hip and knee flexion. But the cord is under tension. FYI: I am a DC, sports performance coach, RKC, and powerlifter. I love this stuff and so appreciate all the forethought you put into your posts. Thank you for a great job!

  • Jerry Larsoni says:

    No, you’re not stretching the cord. It’s extremely well protected inside the vertebral column. It is possible to stretch or compress spinal nerve roots, or peripheral nerves such as the sciatic, but if that happens you’re going to know about it. I’m not an expert in surgery per se; I do intraoperative neurophysiology monitoring (you can look it up, take me too long to explain here), so I’ve particpated in hundreds of spinal surgeries, and I assure you, injuries, or transient injuries, to either the cord or to peripheral nerves or nerve roots are not something abstract. They cause symptoms which quickly become permanent, if the insult continues.

    If you just have pain, it probably isn’t a nerve entrapment. If you have pain in a radicular distribution, it becomes more likely; for instance, pain on the sole of the foot could be a symptom of S1 or sciatic nerve entrapment– but still more likely it’s plantar fasciitis, or you stepped on a nail. Now, if you get numbness, tingling, or weakness then, yeah, a nerve, or never root, or even the cord must be involved.

    . If you just get pain, and not in a radicular distribution (e.g. pain in the sole of the foot could be a symptom of S1 neuropathy. Then again, it could be plantar fasciitis, or maybe you stepped on a nail), that’s probably just pain. The nerves are dong their job reporting on pain from other tissues. If you get pain in a radicular distribution, could be radiculopathy or a peripheral nerve entrapment. If you get weakness, numbness or tingling, that would be something to do with a nerve, nerve root, or even the cord.

    I can’t comment on whether this exercise could cause or exacerbate a peripheral nerve entrapment, or radiculopathy, but I guarantee you it isn’t stretching the cord. If it causes weakness, numbness or paresthesias, or radicular pain, definitely don’t do it!

  • Jerry Larsoni says:

    I edited and rewrote a few times, trying not to say too much, wound up repeating myself.
    Sorry about that.

    I just want to add this: I can tell you from my experience in spinal cord monitoring in surgery that you cannot stretch the cord without definite, very possibly permanent and devasting, consequences. On the other hand, people can and do flex their spines all the time. You can bend forward and back, sideways, twist, go into a tuck position, and the cord does, of course, assume different shapes, but it does NOT get stretched, and couldn’t tolerate it if that did happen.

  • Jerry, I think “tension” would have been a better choice of words than “stretching” the cord. And this would be in the case of a space occupying lesion like a disc herniation. It would be my recommendation that this exercise be performed without the neck flexion. In addition, making sure to breathe and not perform a valsalva would also be recommended.

  • Jerry Larsoni says:

    Well, stretching is caused by tension, innit?
    A disc bulge can compress either the cord, or more commonly, a nerve root. I wouldn’t use the term “tension” to describe compression; they seem to me to be opposites. Anyway, a disc herniation, though it may occur gradually, is like an injury. It’s a pathological condition. Once you get it, then yes, you can possibly have nerve root compression or even cord compression.
    That’s the theory anyhow. There are, notoriously, studies showing that many people have benign disc herniations that don’t cause symptoms.

    Anyway, if you don’t have symptoms, I would assume your spinal anatomy is OK. If you start doing a particular exercise and you start to get radicular pain, sciatica, weakness, numbness or paresthesias (tingling, tickling, itching sensations), then I would certainly think about not doing that exercise, and if the condition persists or worsens, see a doctor.

    I’m postulating three conditions. One, you’re fine, and you can do any damn exercise anyone else can do.
    Two, you have some kind of joint problem, disc bulge, or whatever, and you have to be careful about certain exercises. Three is like number one, you’re fine, but you have a concern about certain exercises, whether it’s crunches, upright rows, frog pumps or whatever, and you think you might want to avoid those because they could be bad for you. That’s fine, but I just want to make clear, you’re NOT putting tension or other mechanical forces on the spinal cord, or if that ever does happen, you’ll know about it!

    The main point is that the cord is protected within the vertebral column, and able to move with it, and it normally doesn’t get stretched, tweaked, torqued, compressed or otherwise compromised or insulted, which is good because it can’t tolerate any of that. If that ever happens, it would be big trouble. Maybe you’ve read somewhere that the brain is the consistency of jello or pudding, and can’t take manipulation. If you haven’t read that, I’m telling you, that’s the case.
    Well, the cord is the same exact deal, same kind of tissue. The cord and the brainstem are continuous and really could be regarded as one thing, not two. So, the cord can’t take any mechanical abuse either; in fact, less so than the brain, because it doesn’t have the same amount of redundancy and plasticity, it’s encased very closely in a narrow space (especially the thoracic cord), and it doesn’t have very good collateral blood flow.

    If you have spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal, usually due to degenerative disc or joint disease, then you might have symptoms, and then you probably need to be extra careful about what kind of athletic movements you do, if you’re still in good enough shape to do them. But in a normal, healthy spine, there’s no mechanical stress on the cord itself.

    I don’t have any comment about the neck flexion, Valsalva, or whether it’s a good exercise or not.

  • Ana says:

    Hi Bret, I’ve just discovered you and your site and am so grateful to have done so! Thank you for all the work and information you present here.

    I am just finding my footing with exercising “properly” as I have come from that exercise paradigm which involved mindless work outs on stupid gym machines that just caused me imbalances and no true functional strength, so forgive me as I slowly digest your philosophies. I have tried this exercise and find that I can’t get my hips up trusted high – no where near as high as yours. So I’m just wondering will this improve over time, or is there something else I should be doing to help this? Is it due to weak glutes (which I totally know I have) or more due to a mobility issue?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Emiliano says:

    Why do you dig elbows on the floor? Don’t you think that they help to extend your hip and quit torque to your glutes? Better without elbows or hands on the floor? Thanks!

  • TC says:

    Looks like a really good idea Brett! Doing it before my deadlift. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Mark Hanington says:

    Bret,
    Thanks a million.
    Now I can hone in on glute activation while using my hip thruster, and I can use it to finish off squat workouts as well.
    Well done sir!
    Mark H.

  • Tom says:

    Tried and ended up with a hernia left groin. Huge bummer! And I consider myself a fit person. Now it’s most likely surgery followed by no exercise for a couple of weeks.

    Careful doing this.

  • Shawna says:

    Hi bret! I tried this and felt like i was straining my neck by tucking in my chin. Is there any way to avoid this? Would it still work if i leaned my head against something? Thanx

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