The bridge exercise or variations thereof are common place in the rehab and personal training worlds. Physical therapists, personal trainers, etc. provide the bridging exercise for 3 sets x 10 reps until they are blue in the face. No doubt about it, the bridge can create glute and core strength.
The problem arises when the bridge is not progressed effectively. Having an athlete or client perform 3 sets x 10 reps of body-weight bridges will not get them better in the long run. Yes, initially they may see gains and improvement in strength, pain, and function, but without progressive overload, progress will plateau.
Progressions needs to be made in order for clients to continue to make progress and improve their function and performance on the court or field of play.
The bridging movement should be felt in the glutes and hamstrings. If it is felt in the low back, the athlete or client may not maintaining a neutral spine and/or may have decreased tissue extensibility in their hip flexors limiting passive and active hip extension.
Here is what a basic bridge looks like:
Bridges can be regressed to:
Band Assisted Bridging
Or progressed to:
Single Leg Bridges
Band Resisted Bridges or Hip Thrusts
Supine Barbell Bridge
If you don’t have a barbell, use a kettlebell, dumbbell, or weight plate to make the movement harder.
Also, performing barbell hip thrusters, single or double leg, are also another option as it increases the range of motion in order to perform the movement.
Single and Double Leg Hip Thruster
Weight can also be added to the hip thruster movement to make the movement more challenging.
Barbell Hip Thrusts
The main point with all of these movements is that good technique is performed. A neutral spine should be maintained throughout the movement and movement should be coming from a hip flexed position to a hip extended position.
Also, terminal hip extension should be achieved. If it cannot be, assess why and if so, refer out to a licensed medical practitioner or decrease the difficulty of the movement so the athlete or client can achieve terminal hip extension.
These bridging variations are great for clients with knee pain who may have difficulty loading their legs pain-free. By creating a more hip dominant movement with the movements above, this can still allow for a pain-free training effect.
If you are giving your athletes or clients countless reps of bridges, then progress the bridge to make it more challenging and to make your athletes and clients better!
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