Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Strength Every Runner Should Do: The Bridge

We've talked about squats, lunges, planks, rotational exercises and now it's time to shine the strength spotlight on the bridge. Bridges are exercises I have every one of my clients do on a regular basis. They are the epitome of core work in that they not only work the abdominal muscles but there is also a special focus on the posterior: the back, hips, glutes, hamstrings and calves. This is really important for runners as it improves hip stability as well as glute and hamstring strength, which will help prevent hip, knee and lower leg injuries. As far as performance goes, your power as a runner comes from glute and hamstring strength. Wanna power up a hill? Building glute and hamstring strength will help tremendously. All-in-all, adding bridges to your routine will help you be a better runner.

Let's begin with the basic bridge. You'll lay down flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. You'll want your feet about a foot or so away from your booty. Lay your hands down along your sides. If bridging is difficult for you, you can reduce the challenge by placing the arms further away from your sides, even out like a T. Inhale, drive your weight through your heels and lift your hips off the ground as you exhale. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then lower your hips back to the floor as you inhale again. That is one repetition. Repeat for at least 10 reps per set. Aim for 2 sets of 10-12 reps. Once this seems fairly easy you can progress to the bridges below.

 


Once a client has mastered the basic bridge, I'll progress them to the bridge with heels down and toes up. This forces the body to engage the hamstrings and glutes more so than when the feet are flat on the ground. You'll perform the bridge as outlined above but have your toes pointing up.



From here, you can progress to the bridge with marching. This further improves hip stability as you must keep your hips level and even while doing the move. Begin in basic bridge starting position with your arms at your sides. You can begin without the toes up and when that is mastered, you can do the move with toes up, heels down to further engage the hamstrings. Inhale, drive your weight through your heels and lift your hips off the ground as you exhale. With the hips raised, you'll raise each leg up in a marching fashion. First raise the right leg up (you can keep the leg bent or straighten it) then lower it down. Then raise the left leg up and lower it down. That is one repetition. Continue to march the legs up and down as if you were marching, all while keeping the hips raised and even. Repeat for at least 10 reps per set. Aim for 2 sets of 10-12 reps.

 


Once you're a pro at the bridge with marching, you can try a single leg bridge. Begin in basic bridge starting position with your arms at your sides. You can begin without the toes up and when that is mastered, you can do the move with toes up, heels down to further engage the hamstrings. Raise your right leg straight up in the air. Inhale, drive your weight through your heels and lift your hips off the ground as you exhale. Keep that right leg straight and hips even as you lower the hips back down to the floor with an inhale. That's one rep. Continue to raise and lower the hips for 10-12 reps, then switch legs. Aim for 10-12 reps with the left leg up. Aim for 2 sets of 10-12 reps on each side.



Those are the basic bridge moves every runner should be able to do. From here, you can always add further challenge first by changing the position of your hands from on the floor to across your chest or to holding them in the air. You can also try adding some weight across your hips. Just be mindful that you don't lose your form or quality of the movement. Once you lose quality, you need to regress the move. You can also try to create some instability by placing your feet on a BOSU, a stability ball or placing your feet in TRX straps. Whatever you do, have fun and enjoy the benefit of stronger hips, glutes and hamstrings!

What's your favorite bridge move?

I'm linking up with Susie from the Suzlyfe, Lora Marie from Crazy Running Girl, Debbie from Coach Debbie Runs and Rachel from Running on Happy for the Coaches' Corner blog link up. Check these awesome ladies when you're done here!



I'm also linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday Link Up with Annmarie from The Fit Foodie Mama, Jen from Pretty Little Grub, Michelle at Fruition Fitness and Nicole at Fitful Focus. Check these badass women out!

19 comments:

  1. Love the bridge and try to incorporate them into most of my strength training workouts

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    1. Awesome! They are a great component of any well-rounded strength routine!

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  2. I love bridges and I'm still working on one-legged bridges but they are a little harder for me!

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    1. They are difficult!! That means you're doing them correctly :)

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  3. My coach has me do bridges with my legs on the resistance ball, rolling the ball towards me (hamstring curls). Ouch!

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    1. Yup! Those are tough but very effective!

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  4. I have all my clients do bridges on a regular basis! I probably need to get them done myself though! :-)

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  5. I love the bridge, except when we do it in barre for 10 minutes, it hurts! ha ha

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    1. Yowza! Ten minutes of bridge is tough...but effective!

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  6. You are just covering all the good stuff! ANOTHER of my FAVORITES

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    1. Can't leave bridges out of any well-rounded program!

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  7. If this will get me a booty like yours, I am in! But I don't want to be heckled... ;-)

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  8. I do all sorts of bridges but never any of these! What have I been missing out on?! I'm going to do these tomorrow. :)

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  9. I love bridges and all their variations. So good for the glutes and hammies!

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  10. Bridge is so amazing...I was doing it consistently for a while and felt a difference!

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  11. When I first started doing these- I was like hmmm not bad. Then I started doing them more, and then adding in the stability ball. OMG- the pain!!!

    Jen
    jpabstfitness.com

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