There are exercises that make you a better person. Although everybody knows ’em, nobody actually ever trains ’em.
Because they show you your weak points and flaws, that’s why.
Have you ever asked yourself why the internet is full of Muscle Ups, Front Levers and Human Flags? With these exercises, you see fast success and they feel good if you keep practicing them.
Additionally, doing these exercises you „only“ need strength. You can walk around like a monkey having your shoulders bent forward and a permanently crooked back. It won’t stop you mastering these exercises – at least not in the beginning.
On the other side, there are exercises that you really need to put in a lot of hard work. They feel hard everytime you do them, they are not easily conquered by power and strength alone and it takes an eternity to master them.
There is an exercise in bodyweight training, that sums all these characteristics up:
No other exercise demands mobility, stability and strength as much as the bridge. This is probably the reason it has a place in the old-fashioned ways of the gymnasts.
The Ultimate Basic Exercise
Here are all the advantages of the bridge in an overview:
Showing your weak spots This is an advantage, you ask? Absolutely! It’s actually the best thing about the exercise. No matter where your weak points are, practicing the bridge you will find them. And this is important. You know the saying: a chain always breaks at it’s weakest link. Better knowing, where the weakest link is within you!
Ultimate compensation and a premise for balance
Push ups, Dips, Pull Ups, Muscle Ups, Front Lever, Dragon Flags, L-Sit, Leg Raises. The list could go on and on. Exercises that make your heart go wild and that you never can get enough of. The focus is on you never getting enough. Your body probably has a very different perspective on that. Taking a look on all the mentioned exercises, they clearly focus the frontal chain mostly. Front thighs, hip flexor, straight abdominal muscles, chest.
Where is the disadvantage in that, you ask? This is great! I mean, these are the muscles that grin back to you from the mirror while you are doing a selfie to push your Instagram account.
But training like this becomes lopsided fast. A problem you won’t even recognise in the beginning. The bridge is the perfect tool to counter these dysbalances. It activates and strengthens the muscles on the backside of the upper and lower body. Side by side it mobilises the muscles on your front side – a win-win!
Utilizing The Bridge
The positive effects of the bridge lead to a variety of possible applications for it. The biggest weak point in athletes who are training mainly body-weight exercises is a lack of mobility of the t-spine, and the shoulder joints. Additionaly to that comes a lack of strength within the backward muscles of the thighs.You can differentiate between the different correctional excersises: is their main goal improved mobility or lies the focus on activating certain muscles?
For example, let’s suppose you train the handstand. Your goal should be a fine shape or ‚line’– at least in my world. When you are working with the bridge, it helps you to open up your shoulders more, helping you standing more straight while doing handstand.
Or a burpee testing is sheduled. A lot of Push Ups and a lot of jumps. The bridge as an active rest stretches the frontal shoulders and chest muscles, and even the hip flexor AND it activates the hip extensor. Speaking of it: do you want to jump high or far? Then you definitely should be doing the bridge up front!
Here is a video showing different stages of the bridge, from easy to harder variations.
(sorry but the intro is in german)
So far we should agree on one thing: there is no question whether you should incorporate the bridge into your training. The question is, how to incorporate it into your today’s training! You are your body. Keeping it balanced should be important to you.
Sure, put the hard skills up on YouTube. But if you are clever, then you’ ll do well on parallely training the bridge in secret, too.