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8 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Bridges Every Day

8 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Bridges Every Day

It’s pretty obvious 2015 is the year of the butt in fitness. Glutes have become the “it” muscles of the minute. They’re so popular they’ve even started the butt selfie (belfie) trend. So butts are everywhere in fitness today and for good reason. I would argue that the glutes may be the most important muscle group in the body. Unfortunately, in our sedentary society, we spend much of the day sitting on our butts instead of using them. This has lead to an an epidemic of flat, flaccid, underused glutes.

Many of the forms of exercise we engage in don’t really do a very good job of training the glutes well. Good thing is, it doesn’t need to be that way. Bridges are a great exercise that you can do everyday to learn how to activate the glutes. When done correctly bridges teach core control, hip control, how to deactivate the hamstrings and maybe most importantly fire up the glutes. Here are some of the amazing things that happen when you start doing bridges everyday.

1. You’ll Say Goodbye to Back Pain.

A weak and under-active butt is a prescription for low back pain. As we live in our sedentary, mostly seated, modern lifestyle our glutes don’t get used much. This results in other muscles like the spinal errectors and hamstrings taking over the job that the glutes are meant for. This process of the glutes becoming less active has been termed “Gluteal Amnesia.” The result of Gluteal Amnesia is often too much movement and loading at the lower back instead of the hips. This has been show to one of the primary causes in the development of low back pain.

Doing bridges everyday (especially after prolonged sitting) will help to “wake up” the glutes and reset the pelvis. This helps the body to remember to use the hips (glutes) to create movement instead of the more fragile lumbar spine.

2. You’re Knee Pain Will Magically Disappear.

One of the primary reasons for knee pain is a lack of control of the upper leg bone, the femur. This lack of femural control can include the femur sliding forward, internally rotating, or collapsing towards the midline of the body (valgus movement). All of these movements, if allowed to occur chronically are associated with knee pain. The glutes play a major role in controlling the femur at the hip joint which will have an effect on how the other bones of the knee joint join together and move.

Bridges, especially of the single leg variety, can help train the femur to stay in line with the knee and toes, avoiding potentially damaging knee movements.

3. Your 5K Time Will Improve.

One of the primary movement functions of the glutes is hip extension. Driving the leg behind you. Many distance runners use a lot of quad and hamstring to run but very little glute. This can not only limit the length of their stride, but also where the foot hits the ground, the amount of force per foot strike and the stability of the pelvis. Improving your glute function, by doing bridges, will help to strengthen and improve all of these aspects of your running and you’ll only become faster and more efficient.

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4. You’ll Stand Up Taller.

Posture is king. We can go to the gym and work out hard for an hour a day but if you spend the other 24 hours of your day slumped over you’re not undoing your chronically awful posture in 60 minutes. The glutes are literally the kingpin of movement. Without glutes that are active and strong the pelvic bowel can not sit properly. This means all the muscles above and below the pelvis, like the core, can’t perform optimally and the body will have to compensate. This compensation usually comes in the form of bad, hang off the low back or slumped forward posture.

Doing bridges will help to teach you not only how to strengthen the glutes so the pelvis sits correctly but also what a neutral spine feels like.

5. Your Boyfriend/ Girlfriend Will Thank You.

Guys and girls agree: a firm, round, butt. The kind that sits high on the hamstrings is considered almost universally to be sexually appealing. And it’s been that way since, well, since forever…

“You’re drawn to a woman’s heinie for the same reason you’re attracted to her breasts, hips, and a little waist: because those traits would have been indicators of fertility to your ancient ancestors.” – David Buss Ph.D.

And women, don’t differ in this opinion. Ask Men did a poll of 100 women and found that they too preferred a tight, muscular, rear. Ranking the butt as the number 1 male body part that “turns them on the most.”

Once you’ve been doing bridges everyday don’t be surprised if your significant other takes notice of your improved posterior and start greeting you with butt grabs instead of hugs.

6. You’ll Finally be Happy With How Your Jeans Fit.

Women are generally not satisfied with how their jeans fit and end up settling more often than not. No more having to search everywhere for a pair of jeans that “fits right” or just “looks ok.” Having a shapely rear will instantly upgrade any pair of jeans. Now, keep in mind that once you add some shape and size to your glutes from bridging everyday you might end up with the dreaded #fitgirl, #fitguy problem of larger than “normal” glutes for the waist cut of the jeans. That creates a “problem” in itself….

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But isn’t that a good problem to have?

7. You’ll Be Setting Squat and Deadlift Personal Records.

The squat and deadlift are often seen as “leg” exercises and they do work the legs really well. But ask any experienced lifter and they’ll be quick to point out that they are really hip (glute) exercises that also involve the other leg muscles. To squat and deadlift safely and effectively it’s important that the glutes are active and strong. Inactive/ weak glutes that are not creating enough hip tension (external rotation and extension) are some of the most common problems I see in trainees. Glutes that don’t fire can decrease the depth of your squat because the hip and core are not working together effectively.  Allow the knees to collapse in because of a lack of external rotation at the femur, straining the knee joint. And putting excess strain on the low back muscles if the pelvis tucks under.

One of the great things about doing bridges everyday is that there are so many variations of bridges they can be programmed as both glute activation and glute strengthening exercises depending on your focus that day. Doing bridges everyday will help your glutes catch up to your quads and hamstrings making your squats and deadlift form and weights improve quickly.

8. Your Driver will Become Your Best Club.

Golfers tend to focus a lot on the “core,” which is important. But if you’re after a more powerful and consistent swing you need strong glutes to help generate force and stabilize the pelvis so you can stay in the correct posture through the swing.

“If power must generate from the ground upward, the ability to properly transfer through a strong torso position into the arms and club, lies in the strength and correct function of the glutes.” –Meredith Parker, TPI 

A recent study done on high versus low handicap golfers came to this conclusion:

“Golfers with a low handicap are more likely to have increased pelvis rotation speed as well as increased gluteus maximus and medius strength when compared to high handicap golfers.” –Callaway, Glaws et al.

Once you begin doing bridges everyday, not only will your golf buddies envy how your posterior looks, they’ll envy how much your long game has improved.

Bridges really are a great exercise because they’re as versatile as they are effective. Here are some bridge variations that you can progress in difficulty and focus as you improve.

Glute Bridge:

glute bridge

    The two legged bridge is the simplest of the bridge variations. This bridges starts lying on the floor with your knees brought up about half way and shoulder width apart. Keeping the rib cage down, in line with the abs, focus on squeezing the glutes very hard, pressing the heels through the floor and pressing the hips up until the hips are fully extended. At the very top you should concentrate on really squeezing the glutes for a full second before lowering smoothly to the floor. Some of the keys to doing bridges effectively are really focusing on using the glutes and shutting down the hamstrings. Also be sure not to allow the pelvis to shift out of neutral or the rib cage to “pop up.” When done correctly the there should be a straight “unbroken” line from the shoulders through the hips and knees.

    You should start with just body weight but this movement can be brutally effective when loaded up with a barbell across the hips. Just make sure you have some padding for the bar.

    Single Leg Glute Bridge:

    single leg glute bridge

      Once the two leg version becomes too easy you can switch to this variation. Too easy means you can stay in perfect form, the hamstrings never fire, the ribs never come up and the glutes drive the movement achieving full hip extension (lockout) on each rep. This version is exactly the same except one foot is off the ground. Being on one foot doesn’t just increase the difficulty of the movement up and down (hip extension) but also the external rotation (knee collapsing to the mid-line) challenge. Make sure the toes, ankle, knee and hip always stay in a straight line.

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      Glute Bridge External Rotations:

      Holding the top of a glute bridge while pressing the knees out on the band will work the glutes in external rotation and extension. Done correctly this will absolutely set your butt on fire.

      The key to this type of bridge is to maintain full hip extension, even when pushing out on the band. The hips should never fall. Push out on the band as far as you can (maintaining hip lockout) once there allow the knees to come back to the start position and then press out again. Be smooth and deliberate to make sure you maintain maximal tension on the glutes the whole time.

      Shoulders Elevated Glute Bridge (Hip Thrust):

      This exercise, more commonly known as the hip thrust, has become one of the go to exercises for glute development. This is essentially a bridge with a much larger range of motion and a higher hip extension demand. For this bridge you want your shoulders on a stable surface (bench, box, even chair). Set your feet up so that your shins are vertical when you’re at the very top of the movement. The rib cage should stay down in line with the abs and you should focus on hinging through the hips.

      Make sure you’re foot pressure is always in the heels, never in the toes and at the finish you achieve full hip lockout. That will result in the best glute activation and development. This movement should be mastered with just body weight before progressing by adding a barbell or band across the hips.

      Tip: Keep the chin “tucked,” down to the chest. While this isn’t a neutral position for the cervical spine, keeping the chin down or even looking at the hip joint helps most people keep the rib cage down “on the abs” at the top of the movement.

      Shoulders Elevated Single Leg Glute Bridge

      The single leg hip thrust is a fairly advanced variation. It’s performed exactly like the traditional hip thrust but with only a single leg at a time. This exercise is MUCH more difficult than the two leg version. You can add a dumbbell on the working leg, barbell or even a mini-band just above the knees to increase the difficulty.

      Tip: Take the nonworking leg and bend it at the knee. At the top of the movement the knee should be pointing at the ceiling, squeeze your glute as hard as possible and think about driving the knee of the nonworking leg up to the ceiling.

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      Start with the simplest version and progress as you master the movement. Don’t be afraid to add weight, band tension or range of motion to the movements as long as the quality of the movement stays high. You’re probably not going to build the firmness or roundness you want your butt to have if you’re simply using only your body weight and staying light all the time. Your muscles need to be exposed to progressively higher loads to grow and take shape. That said, don’t let your ego get the better of you. Keep the movement quality high and focus on getting the best, most intense, contraction in the glutes you possibly can.

      Once you start doing bridges everyday, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your glutes improve and the amazing things that will happen once your butt is actually turned on and active through the day.

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      Last Updated on November 15, 2019

      Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

      Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

      Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

      How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

      Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

      The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

      Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

      Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

      When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

      Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

      Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

      The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

      Shocked? Well, I was too.

      The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

      When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

      On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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      Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

      Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

      Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

      Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

      Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

      It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

      Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

      As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

      In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

      A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

      Your metabolism is like your bank account.

      To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

      Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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      What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

      That’s exactly how your body reasons:

      More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

      Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

      Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

      For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

      Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

      Foods That Increase Metabolism

      Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

      Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

      Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

      • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
        When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
      • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
      • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
      • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

      Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

      To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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      1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
      2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
      3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

      Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

      Sugars and Carbs

      Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

      Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

      Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

      Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
      • Dried fruit
      • Commercial and packaged corn
      • High fructose corn syrup
      • All sorts of candies and lookalike
      • Packaged fruit juices and purees
      • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
      Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
      • Bread and flour-based products
      • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
      • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
      • Potatoes and potato starch products
      • Oatmeals and other grains
      Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
      • All berries except strawberries
      • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
      • Sweet potatoes
      • White rice
      • All green vegetables

      Fats

      Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

      Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
      • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
      • Lard
      • Gmo oils
      • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
      Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
      • Nuts
      • Meat fat
      • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
      • Seeds
      Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
      • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
      • Avocado
      • Coconut oil
      • Butter (organic)
      • Egg yolks (free-range)
      • Bone marrow

      The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

      Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

      Proteins

      Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

      Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

      Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

      Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

      For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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      Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
      • Cheap whey proteins
      • Soy proteins
      • GMO meat
      • GMO eggs
      • Packaged meat
      Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
      • Canned tuna
      • Canned fish
      • Canned meat
      • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
      • Farmed fish
      Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
      • Free-range meat
      • Free-range eggs
      • Wild meat and fish
      • Whey protein isolate
      • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

      Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

      Other Foods and Supplements

      Cold water

      Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

      This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

      MCT Oils or Powders

      Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

      You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

      Caffeine

      Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

      Green Tea

      Green tea

      is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

      Bottom Line

      In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

      For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

      Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

      And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

      Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

      Reference

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