Bridges: An Underrated and Underutilized Exercise
I’m often asked what’s a good exercise for the gluteus and hamstrings. Bridges are one of the most underrated and underutilized exercises for working those muscles. The bridge is an excellent exercise to isolate and strengthen the gluteus, hamstrings, core stability muscles, hip/lower back as well as improve spinal stabilization. Most people do this exercise without added resistance, but that’s a mistake (see “tip” below vid). Done with added resistance, there’s improved responses, as all muscles require added resistance (vs volume) to adapt and get stronger. And NO, they are not just for women!!!
Bridges are a highly functional exercise that can lead to both functional improvements as well as visual. For example, one practitioner of Brazilian jiu jitsu I know said “This is a key exercise for anyone who competes in jiu jitsu tournaments. Strong bridge makes all the difference in escaping. I work bridges hard.”
Bridges are an exercise that have both expected and unexpected benefits both functionally (for various sports) and visually, for bodybuilders, figure/fitness, or the average person looking shape up and strengthen the area. It’s also used for both rehab and prehab. Personally, I tend to incorporate it into lower body days. A typical workout might look like: front squats, RDLs, Bridges, and planks, or a workout I did the other day geared more toward conditioning/GPP/conditioning was a complex of:
Sand bag step ups
Slayer Barbell Bridges
High/low Prowler sprints
Did three circuits of the above then some planks and side planks. My butt was sore for days!
Tip: most people do bridges with body weight only as adding additional resistance comfortably is not always easy. The Slayer Barbell allows for as much added resistance as you could want in perfect comfort, which is one of many exercises this bar allows. If not using a Slayer, try putting a foam pad around an Olympic bar (so the bar does not dig into your hips), or try a plate across your lap, or a heavy medicine ball. None of those options are as comfortable and smooth as using the Slayer Barbell, but experiment with those options and see what works for you. As with any body weight only exercise, your own weight will only get you so far and added resistance will be needed for continued increases in strength, etc.
Note: if you want more information on Sandbags, Slayer Barbell, or Prowler sleds, go HERE and or use the search function (upper right hand corner of this site) to see more vids, articles, etc on them. They are “must have” training tools in my book.