Smart Core Training Week 8 - The Bridge
I’ve got yet another excellent core exercise for you this week as we move into week 8 of my series on Smart Core Training! Today, we’ll take a look at the bridge, which is not only a strength exercise for the muscles of the hips and back of the legs, but it is also a great way to train posterior and rotary core stability.
In this week’s video, you’ll see how you can use the bridge as a core stability exercise by focusing on maintaining stability and neutral spine posture throughout the entire movement.
What we really want to avoid when using the bridge for core stability, is what I most commonly see when first asking someone to do a bridge - rolling the back off the ground. Instead of rolling the back off the ground, our focus should be on maintaining the core stability we’ve been so focused on throughout this series, and lifting the whole upper body off the ground as one unit.
Once again, we return to the concepts of neutral spine, and using the core to protect the spine and transfer force between the lower and upper body.
When you focus on lifting the whole upper body as one solid unit off the ground, it encourages that good core stability while building hip strength and mobility.
On the other hand, if we’re rolling the back off the ground, it’s promoting mobility through the spine rather than stability. For good core training and optimal function of the body, we want to focus on core stability and hip mobility, not the other way around.
In the video, I also go into a couple progressions that you can use to add some really good core stability challenge to the bridge. The way to do this is to simply remove one leg by lifting it or extending the knee. This adds a great rotary stability challenge as you must work hard to not drop to one side and rotate your hips and spine.
Check out the video detailing the bridge and these progressions here:
To summarize the bridge:
What is it?
The bridge is not only a great exercise to strengthen the hips and the back of the legs, but it can be a very effective posterior and rotary core stability exercise. In order to make sure that you’re getting the core stability benefits from the bridge, though, you must be certain that you’re finding a neutral spine position and bracing the core to maintain that position throughout the whole movement.
On the other hand, if you roll off the ground, this encourages a loss of stability at the core and flexion of the lumbar spine; both things that we are trying to avoid in an effective core training program.
Bridging has so many benefits for the legs, hips, and core that it really can’t be overdone! It also is typically not a very challenging exercise or something that causes a lot of soreness, so working up to doing more bridging is a good idea.
However, if you’re just starting out, doing 1 or 2 sets of 10 reps, and gradually working up to 3 or 4 sets of 10-15 reps is a way to ensure that you safely build up to a higher amount of bridging without overdoing it all at once.
For the variations of the bridge, like the march and leg extension that I demonstrated in the video, I like to keep the amount of reps performed a bit lower, especially at first. These variations are more about quality and control of the core than high reps, so I typically stick with 1-3 sets of 6-10 reps. However, this can be built up to higher sets and reps, if necessary.
Finally, the bridge is a great exercise to perform often. Many times, I like to have clients do some kind of bridging every day within their warm-up. In this scenario, it might just be 1 set of 10-20 reps each day, but it’s being done consistently enough to gain all the benefits of bridging for the legs, hips, and core.
It is also an exercise that can and should be integrated into the workout itself at times. This can be varied and mixed in with other posterior and rotary core stability exercises throughout the week. Perhaps you perform 3 sets of 10 reps of bridging on one day of the week within your workout, and mix it in with one or two additional core exercises throughout the workout or throughout the week.
That’s it for the bridge today, but I’ll be back next week with week 9 of Smart Core Training!