The supine bridge exercise is a great exercise for teaching an individual on proper core stability as well as accessing their posterior chain, glutes and hamstrings, to extend the hips. People have written ad nauseam about the importance of posterior chain strength and stability.
People need to exhibit proper strength AND stability in order to maintain adequate performance and injury reduction. The supine bridge exercise can improve hip extension and core stability motor control.
The problem that arises once someone's motor control is on point is that if we continue to keep performing body weight bridge after body weight bridge, improvement in strength will begin to plateau.
It's programming 101. We need to load the movement and provide progressive overload in order to continue to challenge the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems.
For the physical therapists out there, don't be afraid to load the bridging movement. We are supposed to be movement specialists. By progressively overloading our patients with enough load to see positive changes, this can be of huge benefit to our patients.
Here are some various options for loading the supine bridge:
*DIsclaimer* Your patient or client must exhibit on-par form when it comes to progressing them to a loaded variation.
Supine Bridge with Band Resistance
Bridge with Chains
The glutes and posterior chain can handle a large amount of volume when it comes to strengthening. Stop using 3 sets of 10 and expect to see improvements in strength. Don't be afraid to either use a heavy amount of weight for 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps OR sub-max weight for sets of 15 reps. Once you feel a good pump in the glutes and posterior chain, you know you're doing it right.
Troubleshooting the Loaded Bridge
If you are feeling all of work in your hamstrings, try posteriorly tilting your pelvis a.k.a bring your belt toward your chin. If that doesn't help, humble yourself and lower the weight until you feel it in your glutes as well.
If you are feeling in working your low back, try the same cue as mentioned before, lower the weight, or take a big belly breath prior to lifting the weight to see if that changes.
You need to make sure you are attaining terminal hip extension in order to attain full gluteus maximus recruitment. If you are in an anterior pelvic tilt or the weight is too heavy, the glutes will not be able to be adequately stressed.
Get your clients and patients away from doing 3 sets of 10 reps for bodyweight to doing more loaded bridging variations!
photo credit: pilotfitness.com
In the realms of strength and conditioning and physical therapy, we some times get stuck in a rut or stuck doing what we have always done because it is easy. Instead of programming for our clients and patients effectively, we do the same old exercises and wonder why people are disinterested or plateau with their results.
Sometimes I've seen trainers or coaches tell their client to hop on the bike or treadmill to warm-up. Other times, they will jump right into the training session.
On the flip side, I have seen people roll around on the foam roller for many minutes, ie. 30-minutes, to loosen up those "tight" spots. The reason you are at the gym is to get a training session in. Not to roll around on the foam roller for the majority of the time.
Doing some quick and easy self-myofascial release (SMR) that takes a few minutes at most is the way to go. If are you are dealing with some aches or pains or have some particularly problem areas like tight hips or shoulders, then you can devote a little bit more time to those areas.
Personally, I try to keep my SMR session to 1-2 songs on my IPhone so that I know I'm not spending too much time. I'd be a liar to say that I haven't spent a long period of time warming-up in the past. Currently, I try to keep it simple and hit the areas I know I will be focusing on during my training session.
We DO want to make sure we address any areas of dysfunction during our SMR session. The way we would know that is through an assessment.
For example, if I assess someone and notice they have limited overhead mobility, you can bet we are going to incorporate some soft tissue work with the foam roller or the lacrosse ball to:
photo credit: Pearson Education, Inc.
If someone lacks hip mobility in the sagittal or frontal planes, we are going to work on:
photo credit: www.raynersmale.com photo credit:www.drpeggymalone.com
Make sure to always assess each and every client to find out what they need for their mobility work. On the flip side, not everyone needs "mobility" work. Someone may feel "tight," but in turn they may actually need activation exercises to improve stability in various areas of the body to decrease said tightness.
So, now that we have covered the SMR portion, we want to have our clients or patients perform movements in their dynamic warm-up that are going to mimic the movements they are going to be performing during their training session.
I stole this from Eric Cressey and the staff at Cressey Sports Performance in regards to structuring a warm-up. We want to start on the ground with ground-based movements such as:
Then progress to more upright positions such as tall or half-kneeling with:
Then progress to eventually standing with movements such as:
Your warm-up should not take longer than 10 minutes MAX! That includes SMR AND a dynamic mobility piece. The main objectives to our warm-up are:
Since I have tried shortening my warm-ups, I have noticed that I have had better training sessions. Remember, when you are doing warm-up sets of squat, bench, deadlift, etc., those are considered warming-up as well. By shortening your pre-workout warm-up session, you will gain valuable time during your non-working sets by grooving good movement patterns for the lift you are going to be performing.
Try shortening your warm-ups and let me know what you think!
Here I will be writing and posting about topics ranging from physical therapy, injury prevention/reduction, and strength and conditioning.