Take it to the Bridge!

Dec 10, 2012 by

Take it to the bridge!

The ThriveQuest fitness challenges are meant to be fun little group activities, the whole point is to get people engaged and more importantly get them moving in some meaningful way.

We started posting these challenges on the Facebook page, where we've had good participation and feedback so far, I think its definitely something that we will continue going forward on a weekly basis.

This is the first time that an exercise has warranted a full fledged article - so my apologies for being a little late to those of you who are used to seeing these challenges on Facebook, it just takes a little longer to prepare a full write up like this, hopefully you'll find it worth the extra time!

One last thing I want to mention, for this article I decided to grab some YouTube videos to provide the instruction for the form of this week's challenge, however going forward we are soon to start producing our own videos (actually, much of delay was me hoping to have the time to record my own video tutorials before I finally gave up on that getting done in time for this particular article) and anyone who is interested in participating should contact me to get involved in some of our upcoming projects and tutorial videos! 

So enough already, what's this week's challenge?!?

Great question, oh impatient one - would you believe, the MOTHER of all exercises?

Probably not, eh? Didn't think so, at least not without some explanation and maybe a little convincing...

When people speak of exercises, those who know what they're talking about will tell you that you can only be really strong if you have a strong core, the muscles which surround your abdomen are clearly the most important of them all if you intend to become truly physically fit.

Perhaps then, you'd expect the fitness challenge this week would be about situps, crunches or some other traditional abdominal exercise - but while that is NOT at all the case, the movement we are about to discuss is nevertheless an outstanding core workout, among many other things to boot. The real key is that in addition to strengthening the core, this exercise also strengthens and improves the ability of all those core muscles to work in the first place and helps maintain their proper coordination.

Without further ado, today's fitness challenge is known as:
 

The Back Bridge

 

Some of the many benefits of the back bridge exercise include:

-Works your legs, lower back, upper back, arms, chest, shoulders and neck
-Improves digestion and circulation
-Helps repair common posture and body alignment issues
-Provides an excellent core workout
-Stretches and strengthens hip flexor muscles which are often chronically tight from too much sitting
-Strengthens the ‘Posterior chain’, including the spinal erectors, glutes & hamstrings
-Improves overall flexibility and agility
-Protects against injury

The preventative and repairing aspects of this exercise and the benefits to the strength, stability and function of the ALL IMPORTANT spine and spinal erectors in particular are some of the main reasons why I call this the 'mother of all exercises' - and I don't say that with even a hint of hyperbole.

The only thing is, unlike the previous fitness challenges, this is actually an advanced movement and thus the need for a full post as opposed to just the Facebook wall message. The full back bridge requires superior flexibility, strength and coordination, it is NOT for beginners (this probably means YOU); however  as with anything, there is a progression which can be followed to build the requisite skills and abilities to allow you, my dear reader, to attain the full back bridge (and beyond).

Before I get into the various stages of building up to doing full back bridges, let me point out that while this is an exercise which is perfectly safe to perform, that doesn't mean it is not without some level of danger, as is the case with any advanced exercise. You really ought to communicate with your physician if you have any existing lower back or spinal issues and even if you don't, you should be sure to follow the progression below and take your time in working your way up to full bridges at your own comfortable pace.

Just as you wouldn't run out and start doing heavy kettlebell swings or max deadlifts when you have not worked your way up to that level of strength or coordination, you also shouldn't just jump right in and start trying to do the full bridge without demonstrating proficiency in the beginning and intermediate levels of the exercise.

So I present to you below a great progression for you to follow to work your way up to full back bridges. When you reach the ability to do sets of the full bridge, you should consider yourself a very functionally conditioned and coordinated athlete indeed! For those of you who make it that far, remember there are still several progression steps above and beyond the full bridge! If you're interested in going further, feel free to contact me for some even more advanced progression steps!

The first Bridge variant for you to attempt is the Short Bridge.

Do one set of 10 reps to start

Once you can do 3 sets of 50 with perfect form and tempo (2 seconds up, pause for a second, 2 seconds down pause for a second), then you're ready to move on to the next level.

The second Bridge variant for you is the Straight Bridge.

Do one set of 10 reps to start

Once you can do 3 sets of 40 with perfect form and tempo (2 seconds up, pause for a second, 2 seconds down pause for a second), then you're ready to move on to the next level.

The third Bridge variant for you is the Head Bridge.

Do one set of 8 reps to start

Once you can do 2 sets of 25 with perfect form and tempo (2 seconds up, pause for a second, 2 seconds down pause for a second), then you're ready to move on to the next level.

Then finally there is the Full Bridge.

Start with one set of 6. If and when you can work your way up to two sets of 15, then contact me for some good next steps!

The key to improvement is to remember to do your bridges in a deliberate and controlled manner. Take 2 seconds to rise, pause for 1 second of contraction at the top, then 2 seconds to return to the starting position, all while breathing steadily.

Ladies and gentlemen, we got MC Shan and Marley Marl in the house tonight...

You get bonus points if you can tell me in the comments below why the above line is relevant here!

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