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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 July 3, 2020

      How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

      How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

      Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life. To control your thoughts means to influence the way you live your life.

      Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affects your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality)

      I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, and just a general waste of energy.

      You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

      Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Be someone who can control your thoughts—become the master of your mind.

      When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

      I currently have a few thoughts that are not of my choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

      Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

      Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in control of your thoughts.

      If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

      Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.

      1. The Inner Critic

      This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

      • Other people’s words—many times your parents
      • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples’ expectations
      • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media
      • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

      The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, and lack of self-love.

      Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is youwhy else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

      2. The Worrier

      This person lives in the future—in the world of “what ifs.”

      The Worrier is motivated by fear, which is often irrational and has no basis. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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      3. The Reactor or Troublemaker

      This is the one that triggers anger, frustration, and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

      This person can be set off by words or feelings and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

      The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control. He is run by past programming that no longer serves you—if it ever did.

      4. The Sleep Depriver

      This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

      The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

      • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
      • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
      • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and generalized anxiety
      • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

      How can you control these squatters?

      How to Master Your Mind

      You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You can control your thoughts, but you must pay attention to them so you can identify “who” is running the show—this will determine which technique you will want to use.

      Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

      There are two ways to control your thoughts:

      • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
      • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

      This second option is what is known as peace of mind.

      The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go-to” thoughts in applicable situations.

      Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

      1. For the Inner Critic

      When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

      You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

      For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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      You can also have a dialogue with yourself to discredit the ‘voice’ that created the thought—if you know whose voice it is:

      “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

      If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready.

      This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

      • They rile up the Worrier.
      • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
      • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
      • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
      • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

      Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

      Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

      2. For the Worrier

      Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

      Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind, and creates anxiety in the body. This may make it more difficult for you to control your thoughts effectively.

      You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

      • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
      • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
      • Muscles tense

      Use the above-stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time, you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

      If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

      Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

      “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

      Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense. Both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

      If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

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      Now, take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like! Do it until you feel that you’re close to being in control of your thoughts.

      Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

      For example: If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

      “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place.

      Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

      Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

      “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

      Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

      3. For the Troublemaker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

      Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers. But until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

      The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain.

      I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

      Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds—just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

      Breathe in through your nose:

      • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
      • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
      • Focus on your belly rising.

      Breathe out through your nose:

      • Feel your lungs emptying.
      • Focus on your belly falling.
      • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

      Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize. Now, you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior, and you’ll be more in control of your thoughts.

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      One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

      Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

      4. For the Sleep Depriver

      (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher, and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

      I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

      Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

      1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
      2. Then I came up with a replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

      When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and thoughts, and I choose quiet.

      From the first time I tried this method, I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

      For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (closed, of course). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

      If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

      You can also use this technique any time you want to:

      • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon
      • Shut down your thinking
      • Calm your feelings
      • Simply focus on the present moment

      The Bottom Line

      Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes.

      You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable, and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

      Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. You can be in control of your thoughts. The choice is yours!

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      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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