Bridges are excellent nose to toes core exercises and, in general, should be an integral part of any comprehensive exercise program. This week, consider including the fundamental bridge progressions highlighted into your regular, consistently performed exercise program (i.e., there are literally dozens of variations, so stay tuned for other progressions in the coming weeks). As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Three Bridge Progressions – Great Nose to Toes Core Exercises – Choose the progression that is right for your ability level, hold it for 15-30 seconds, take a break and repeat it on the other side where appropriate, two to four times. Perform the progression of your choice three to five days per week on non-consecutive days following a thorough warm-up of 5-10 minutes.
**All positions require the following set up – head/neck/shoulders are a natural extension of the spine, shoulders are packed down; ribcage lifted, navel pulled toward the spine pelvic floor pulled up and inward; glutes engaged and always maintain a neutral/controlled lumbar spine throughout the exercise/position by keeping your pelvis in neutral.
Basic Glute Bridge
- Begin lying supine with knees bent and the soles of the feet on the floor, hip distance apart, and the arms extended along side the body with the palms facing the floor.
- Pressing your heels into the floor, engaging the glutes, lift the hips straight up toward the ceiling without hyperextending the lumbar spine, keeping the head, neck, shoulders, and upper thoracic spine on the floor.
- Hold this position for 15-30 seconds, and then lower the hips down to the floor.
- Repeat two-four times.
Variation of Basic Glute Bridge
Variation – Hip Extensions – Dynamic
- Begin in the “up” held position described above.
- Then, lower the hips toward the floor without touching the buttocks to the floor (almost, but not quite touching), lifting up and down with control; two slow counts up and down; 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. To increase intensity, you may add external load, such as a dumbbell or kettlebell/sandbag to the lowest part of the hips.
Basic Side Bridge
- Begin lying on your right side with the right elbow directly under your right shoulder, palm on the floor.
- Stack the hips, thighs parallel to one another, the left leg is extended with the inside of that foot on the floor and the right leg is flexed back at a 45-degree angle with the bottom side of that knee resting on the floor.
- Drive the hips up toward the ceiling distributing the body weight evenly from the right elbow to the lateral side of the right knee, holding the torso and hips off of the floor.
- You are engaging the entire nose to toes core to stabilize the body in this position; however, you will be experiencing the “pulling” action from the right lateral side of the torso (i.e., bottom side) as well.
- Now, extend the L arm and fingertips to the ceiling at the shoulder joint, keeping the body “open”, and hold this position 15-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
- Repeat two-four times.
Variation – Basic Side Bridge
- Same position as described above, but instead of keeping the right knee on the floor, lift it too with the legs straight and either in a tandem or stacked position.