When talking in terms of advanced bodyweight movements we often think of the Pistol Squat and One Arm Push-up. The back bridge is a simple yet powerful expression of mobility and stability that can be done with minimal or no equipment and the various benefits include superior thoracic, wrist and hip mobility as you simply can’t get into the correct position without doing the required amount of work beforehand.
The back bridge exercise
When looking at the full version of the back bridge you may be a little off put when you see the amount of mobility and stability required in such an uncommon position we don’t usually visit as adults. The back bridge is a beginner movement children learn when starting gymnastics and it’s quite interesting to see how much freedom and range of movement we lose when we simply don’t train in these types of positions.
So let’s break it down and take a look at the requirements and progressions you need to achieve in order to complete the back bridge.
How to do a back bridge
Step 1: Hip Bridge
Squeezing the glutes off the floor with out using the lower back, drive your hips until they are in an extended position. Drive as high as you can through the movement until you reach your full hip extension. If you struggle getting into full hip extension in this movement focus on single leg bridges, trigger point and mobility work to improve it. Aim for 2 sets of 15reps minimum.
Step 2: Straight Leg Bridge
Fingers are facing forward during the straight bridge and the hips are raised to form straight line between ankles and shoulders. Squeezing the glutes and flaring the rib cage assists to get in position. Your wrist and thoracic mobility might be challenged here, be sure to trigger point and mobilise where you need to and aim for 2 sets of 10 reps with perfect form before progressing.
Step 3: Bench Bridge
The bench bridge is the beginning of using the arms to help push up off the floor or object but you start on a bench or elevated surface. Once again squeeze the glutes and flare the chest whilst pushing up from the bench. The head should be looking back between the arms to help activation through the back and glutes. Work on thoracic mobility with activities such as this pec release to help range of motion. Complete 2 sets of 5 reps before moving on.
Step 4: Head Bridge
Moving to the floor from our bench now, flare the chest and squeeze the glutes enough to encourage you to roll up onto the top of your head. Eyes are looking back between the arms. Ensure you keep the elbows tucked in and hands planted on the ground and do not rest the weight on your neck. By now you will be able to notice if you have the requisite thoracic extension to complete a full back bridge. If you need some work, the Shoulder Mobility section of Unlock Your Movement will address this. Complete 2 sets of 5 reps minimum before you move on.
Step 5: The Full Back Bridge
Placing the hands inline with the ears, drive through your heels, engaging the glutes whilst flaring at the chest. The push also comes through the arms forcing the ground away from you through the heels and palms. Eyes are looking back behind you and glutes and squeezed as tight as possible. When lowering down, do not just let go of the position and use control.
And there you have it. 5 steps and progressions to your back bridge. As you can see there is a lot more to advanced bodyweight movements than just the pistol squat and one arm push-up. The reason I love the back bridge is because you can earn the range over time and establish good foundations of mobility and range as you simply won’t be able to reach the final stage until you do.
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