11. Back Bridges Advanced PREVIOUS NEXT  
back bridges  
 

Back bridges are an advanced exercise that offers excellent total body conditioning, including improved stamina, balance, and flexibility. This exercise and its variations should only be attempted by individuals exercising comfortably at an advanced level and with the use of a spotter to assist in entering, completing, and exiting each exercise position. With all inverted positions, there is an extra risk of back strain and of losing one’s balance.

To do a back bridge, begin with your back and head on the ground, knees bent and feet flat on the ground about shoulder-width apart, and arms at your sides with your palms down (Figure 53). Take a moment to mentally prepare for the exercise, thinking through the steps you will execute. When you are ready, bend your elbows and bring your hands to each side of your head, about shoulder-width apart, with your palms flat on the ground, and with your fingers pointing toward your feet and spread slightly in preparation to aid your balance (Figure 54). Next, taking care not to lose your balance, lift your hips from the ground, arch your back, and push up with your arms and legs so that you are balancing on your feet and hands, with your face looking at the ground, and your back arched as evenly as possible (Figure 55). Ask a spotter to check for good form and alignment and adjust your position as needed. It may initially take more than one attempt at the back bridge before your form is good and you are comfortable and balanced in the position in Figure 55. Hold this position until you are moderately winded or about a minute, whichever comes first, ensuring good form and maintaining your balance. Then, carefully reverse your movements, taking care to stay balanced, and return to your original starting position (Figure 53). This completes one back bridge. Do 1-3 back bridges. Work to improve the quality and precision of your bridging movements over time, to heighten the mid-point of your arch position, and to increase the duration that you can comfortably hold the bridge position.

VARIATIONS: Once you are comfortable in the back bridge and are able to hold the position in Figure 55 for an extended time without losing your balance, a number of variations on the back bridge are possible, including the back bridge push-up and the back bridge leg extension. Both of these variations intensify the back bridge exercise and promote added conditioning, flexibility, and agility.

BACK BRIDGE PUSH-UP
To do the back bridge push-up, return to the back bridge position (Figure 55) via the steps described above. When you are ready, bend your elbows slightly and gently lower your face until it almost touches the floor, taking care not to lose your balance (Figure 56). Hold this position for at least a moment and then straighten your arms and push back up to the back bridge position in Figure 55 (if you cannot push back up to this position, ask a spotter to assist you by pressing against your upper back to help you return to the bridge). This completes one back bridge push-up. Continue this exercise without stopping until you are moderately winded or about a minute, whichever comes first, and then reverse your movements, taking care to stay balanced, and return to your original starting position (Figure 53). This completes one set of back bridge push-ups. Do 1-3 sets of back bridge push-ups. Work to improve the quality and precision of your push-up movements over time, and to increase the number of push-up repetitions you can comfortably do.

BACK BRIDGE LEG EXTENSION
To do the back bridge leg extension, return to the back bridge position (Figure 55) via the steps described above. When you are ready, gently extend one of your legs toward the sky, taking care not to lose your balance and working to make your extended leg straight and its foot pointing perpendicular to the ground (Figure 57). Hold this position for at least a moment and then carefully reverse your movements until you return the back bridge position in Figure 55. This completes one back bridge leg extension. Repeat this movement with the other leg for an equal duration and with equal intensity, and then reverse your movements, taking care to stay balanced, and return to your original starting position (Figure 53). This completes one set of back bridge leg extensions. Do 1-3 sets of back bridge leg extensions. Work to improve the quality and precision of your leg extension movements over time, and to increase the duration of your leg extensions.