Up until recently, the last time I did a back bridge was in a junior high PE class.
This winter I am doing a routine that incorporates a mild version of the back bridge, called the hip bridge. As soon as I added in hip bridges, I knew this is the exact exercise that my body was looking for. My back has been injured for 20 years and my lower spine has a tendency to lose the healthy natural curve and flex forward a bit.
Things like sitting at a desk for a lot of the day just add to the problem. This past week I have been researching back bridges and possibly incorporating this exercise into my routine permanently. But they are kind of controversial.
[This picture doesn’t have a lot to do with this post, but people keep telling me that Rain from Ninja Assassins got in great condition for this movie. Yeah, the guy looks pretty darn ripped.]
My Experience With Hip Bridges
So I am pretty new to bridging. People who do Yoga, Martial Arts, Wresting, Gymnastics, and sports of that nature have probably been doing this exercise for years…but it is new to me.
So far I have been doing hip bridges a few times per week for about 2 months and my lower back feels better than it has in a long time.
A Quick Video of a Hip Bridge…
[Josh, the guy in the video does a great job at explaining this exercise. I have never heard of this trainer before, but he does a spot on job of describing and demonstrating this exercise.]
What I Like About Hip Bridges
Hip bridges automatically make the muscles that contribute to good posture, fire off. I also get an amazing active stretch in the hip flexors and quads in a way that actually increases active flexibility.
When I try to do the quad stretch or hip flexor stretch where I am standing and grabbing my foot with my arm and pulling it to my glute muscles…it doesn’t lead to any active flexibility.
Hip bridges improve my posture and flexibility immediately and that effect lasts for a few days minimum. I actually feel a little taller after doing a few sets!
A Great Exercise to Do After Planks
Try doing a few sets of 2 minute holds after doing planks. It will make your entire mid section and core warmed up. It feels as if the deep spinal muscles get worked and loosened up.
I also plan on using hip bridges as a warm up before doing things like bent over rows or overhead presses. It reinforces correct spinal alignment before putting a load on the lower back. As Josh explains in the video, it also ensures that your glute muscles fire properly during squatting motions.
I Am Just Beginning to Look Into Back Bridges
Back bridges are quite a bit more extreme than hip bridges, but many people swear by them. A leading authority on lower back health, Stuart McGill, isn’t as enthusiastic about this type of movement for the back.
In “Low Back Disorders” he states that this can cause a fatigue fracture (spondylolisthesis). Great book by the way…I have it on my desk right now. So one of the leading back experts is not a fan, but some people swear by them.
Here is a Quick Demo of a Back Bridge…
Matt Furey of Combat Conditioning Swears By These
Not sure if you guys have heard of Matt Furey or not, but he has a pretty big market share of the fitness market. His approach is more towards functional fitness and protecting the body against injury.
Furey claims that that the Back Bridge stretches the spine and strengthens the neck, back, thighs, hips and buttocks like nothing else.
Paul Wade Says Back Bridges Combat-Proof the Spine
I had not heard about Paul Wade until recently. He just released a book with a controversial title, “Convict Conditioning“. I don’t like the name of the book at all, but I had to order it…mainly to do more research on back bridges. It is on the way to my place, so I haven’t read it yet.
Some of the Things Paul Wade Says About Bridges
I will just list some bullet points from the sales page of the book. It really makes me curious about this exercise. The curiosity was killing me, so I had to order the book.
- Why the bridge is the most important strength-building exercise in the world.
- And ask yourself this: how big are your spinal muscles?
- Develop this first line of defense against spinal injuries.
- Why you should sell your barbell set and buy a cushioned mat instead.
- Why bridging is the ultimate exercise for the spinal muscles
- Why the short bridge is wonderful therapy for those who have suffered disc injuries.
- How to train your spine—as if your life depended on it.
- How to own a spine that feels like a steel whip.
Makes You Think A Little!
I am just beginning my research on this exercise. I am probably going to order another book or two from other authors as well.
At some point I will do a more involved article, but for now I wanted to see who has had experience with this exercise.