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!
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