The bridge exercise is often seen in Pilates and yoga and is used to strengthen the entire midsection.
As a result, it is often a common exercise prescribed by physiotherapists following a lower back injury. The premise of the bridge is to strengthen that butt of yours in turn strengthening your lower back and engaging your abs while doing it.
If you are fully fit and you workout regularly then you will probably see the bridge as being too easy and will skip doing it. That’s fair enough, as I did exactly the same when I was prescribed these and once I got over my weakness I too skipped it as I simply didn’t feel any increase in strength.
However what I later learnt, like with most things, is that there are a few variations of this bridge exercise which increases the level of resistance you palace on the working muscles when performing it.
At the most basic level as you know is the Short Bridge
If you find this easy as most people do, it may still be good to initially warm up with this and remind you about good form:
1. Lie face up on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
2. Raise hips and glutes so the body is in a straight line from the shoulders to the knees. When raising the hips, ensure you push with the knees. Keep shoulders relaxed and don’t tighten together.
3. Squeeze the glutes as you reach the top and hold for two seconds. Then take around 3 to 4 seconds to slowly lower back to the floor.
And that’s the premise of the Bridge Exercise as a whole.
Swiss Ball Bridge
The Swiss Ball Bridge adds a level of resistance onto the existing short bridge.
After performing this myself I did feel my lower back felt better supported soon afterwards. However, this feeling of support was short lived as my lower back felt weak again the following day, thus loosing confidence in this exercise. However your mileage may vary depending on your own lower back. Do let me know if you try this, your feedback is much appreciated.
Swiss Ball Bridge Arms Up
By pointing your arms into the air when performing the bridge, you place greater importance on your hips/lower back/ glutes & heals when lifting up while keeping steady on the ball… I would recommend this to only those people who are already fit and healthy and looking to improve their core strength.
This one seems to be a new addition to the variations of the bridge which I’ve started to notice others performing when at the gym. You are simply adding weight resistance to push against when performing this type of bridge.
Adding additional resistance is the only way if you want to increase your strength in any exercise. One of the important things I’ve personally learn along my travels is that body weight will only get you so far. Which could be the reason why my lower back strength had been short lived when performing various body weight only exercises.