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This Is Why You Should Do Bridges Every Day

This Is Why You Should Do Bridges Every Day

The bridge is one of the best ways to tighten and lift your backside and buns. But there are many additional advantages to this great exercise!

A bridge is traditionally performed laying on your back on a mat. It involves lifting the hips and lowering them back down. There are many variations that can be performed and modifications that can be made to make this exercise both easier and harder.

This movement uses a variety of muscles, including the glutes, hamstrings, back extensors and hip adductors and abductors. These muscles all play a vital role in helping to prevent injury and keep our bodies moving properly.

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Here are 9 reasons you should do bridges every day

1. It tightens your buns and legs

Did you know that stronger glutes not only make you look better in your jeans, but also help contribute to your overall health? Many people with low back, hip and knee pain have weak gluteal muscles. The bridge is one of the best exercises to help target and isolate these important muscles.

2. It improves posture

You are most likely reading this on your computer or mobile device right now. That means you are probably leaning forward, rounding your shoulders and your back. Most of us sit this way throughout the day, which can cause headaches, weakness and tight muscles from our poor posture! Bridging strengthens the back extensors, which can help us stand up straighter.

3. It can be done laying down

Squats are a very popular and effective exercise for strengthening leg muscles, but there are many people who are unable to do a traditional squat due to back, knee or hip pain. The bridge allows a person to strengthen these muscles in a position that doesn’t put pressure on their joints.

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4. It decreases back pain

Back pain many times can be caused by poor movement of the spine. It can lead to weak hip and abdominal muscles. All of these issues are addressed with a bridge exercise. The focus on the core and surrounding musculature can help support and strengthen the low back, leading to decreased pain. Not only that, but regular strengthening with bridges can help prevent back pain in the future!

5. It enhances sports performance

Most physical activities – including running, hiking, cycling, sprinting, and jumping – require strong gluteal muscles. Most people don’t realize they have weak glutes until an injury sidelines them from their sports. Bridges can help strengthen all the posterior chain muscles, which can lead to decreased chance for injury and improved sports performance.

6. It helps prevent knee pain and injury

Knee pain can be a direct result from muscle imbalances in the hips, including weak inner and outer thighs and glutes. Bridging helps strengthen these muscle groups without putting added pressure on the knees. This muscle balance can lead to better tracking of the kneecap and a decreased chance of osteoarthritis in the knees.

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7. It helps with scoliosis

Bridges are one of my favorite exercises to give to my physical therapy patients who have scoliosis. Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine and causes an imbalance in movement of the vertebrae and the muscles that surround the spine. Bridging not only strengthens, but also can return proper movement to the spine, which can help the pain associated with scoliosis. I especially love the variation that involves moving one vertebrae at a time. This can be seen in the video below.

8. It feels good

A bridge is considered a type of inversion exercise because your heart is lifted higher than your head as you lift your hips. Inversions have been shown to increase blood flow, which can help balance hormones and release endorphins. All of this can lead to peace of mind, better sleep and improved mood!

9. It improves balance

Bridging works the muscles of the posterior chain of the body. These include the back extensors, gluteals and hamstrings. These muscles play a vital role in our ability to both maintain our balance and regain our balance when we start to fall. Strengthening the posterior chain will help improve balance when standing.

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If you want to lift your buns, decrease pain, improve your health and prevent injuries, add bridges to your exercise routine! Here is a short video talking you through 3 different variations of the bridge. Remember, you always want to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program, and please stop the exercise if you feel pain.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Published on November 29, 2018

When is the Best Time to Workout to Get Incredible Results

When is the Best Time to Workout to Get Incredible Results

“I don’t have time”

is the number one excuse people give when they’re asked how come they don’t exercise.

In the book The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz, it says that it’s management of our energy levels and not time that is the key to higher performance. If we kept our energy levels in check and made sure that every part of our lives contributed to positive energy levels, we would be able to get more done.

One of those aspects that give us energy is exercise.

Exercise is the fuel that gives us energy and an activity that keeps on giving even if we are sitting around day in the office and in meetings.

Reaping the benefits of a good workout is immediate. We have better focus and concentration; we are more alert and awake; we manage our mood better and have more creativity after a good workout than if we skipped the gym.

If you’d like to get started working out I’m going cover the pros and cons to exercising at different times of the day so that you can find a time that fits for your lifestyle and schedule.

So, when is the best time to work out? Let’s get started!

Working out in the Morning

Most people aspire to exercise first thing in the morning and get it out of the way. If this is you, read on to find out the additional benefits of getting your workout done in the morning.

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Benefits of Morning Workouts

1. The rest of the day is yours

Exercise and lifting weights is a staple and a habit in my life but it’s also the biggest to-do on my list. When I exercise first thing in the morning, then I’m free to do whatever I want the rest of the day. This is why I have a very strong preference of exercising in the morning as oppose to afternoons or evenings.

I schedule my day with my biggest to-dos first while I have the energy and focus at the beginning of the day. But the more I procrastinate about my workout and putting it on my list for later, the bigger that reminder to exercise sits on my shoulder.

My mind feels free when I finish my workout and this is the main reason I get my exercise in as soon as the day allows; and if I have to get up before the sun rises, then so be it.

2. Gyms are less crowded and there is more equipment available

Here’s the best part about working out early in the morning – there is not competition for equipment.

Most people typically struggle with getting up early in the morning except for the elderly. And in the morning, the gym floors are pretty sparse, this means there is no wait for equipment or competing for floor space.

I live in the crowded city of San Francisco where the gyms are packed once it gets to 9 AM, so the best times to get in if I want a squat rack is before 8 AM. Plus, the gym equipment is organized so I can find the free weights I want without much effort and there is usually a bench available.

3. You have more energy and more clarity to fire up the day

After you drag yourself to the gym at the crack of dawn, you will walk out of there with more energy and clarity then when you stepped in. Not only will you wide awake but you have extra energy on top of your cup of coffee.

The extra burst of creativity and focus keeps you productive so that you’re able to make more progress on your projects at work and finish earlier.

4. You become more consistent

The ones who see results are the ones who are consistent and morning people are definitely more consistent than people who postpone their workouts later in the day.[1]

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This is because as the day starts to unfold, unexpected meetings and events come up that can cut into or even eliminate gym time. If you want to workout more consistently, get your workout in first thing in the morning before life happens.

Downsides of Morning Workouts

1. You’re a zombie on the floor

Of course dragging yourself out of bed before the sun rises is why most people struggle with morning workouts. Some of us, like me, don’t want to talk to anyone before a certain time and get really short on a lack of sleep.

To combat morning zombie, make sure to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep.

2. Your preparation starts the night before

Your workout may happen in the morning but your preparation starts the night before. If you’re a last minute person and not a planner, you will struggle in the mornings to get out the door in time.

Packing everything you need for the gym in the morning is the key to getting to your workout in that day. Support successful mornings by modifying your night time routine in order to prepare for the next day.

How to Make It Easier to Wake Up

The first step is to make a commitment and stick with it. Don’t go back and forth the night before on whether you should go to the gym in the morning.

Make the decision to go in the morning and focus your energy on making it happen.

When you create that habit, you do it even if your workout is less than optimal and you’re not completely ‘all there’ or you’re a zombie in the morning. Just keep going because repetition makes it easier and the more often you go, the easier it gets.

Eventually your brain will catch up and start to automatically be awake at those times.

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A question you can ask yourself is what can you do to make it easier for you?

Can you set your workout clothes out the night before? Or have your breakfast prepared the night before? Or if you’re an alarm snoozer, put your alarm across the room and set back up alarms to make sure you get out of bed to shut them off.

Again, what can you do to make it 20 seconds easier to help you get up and out of the door in the morning?

Working out in the Afternoon/Evening

So what about working out in the evening? Is it a good time to help achieve your fitness goals?

Benefits of Evening Workouts

1. Your body performance is at its peak

When you’re training in the afternoon, your warm ups can be shorter because your body temperature increases throughout the day.

A higher body temperature leads to increased flexibility,[2] overall muscle strength,[3] and increased endurance.

Not only does the combination of low blood pressure and heart rate in the afternoon lead to faster reaction times and better performance, but also less likelihood injury.

At the same time the muscle growth hormone testosterone also peaks in the afternoon which is great for maximizing resistance training.

2. An accountability partner is easier to come by

If you’re someone who needs accountability partner to make it to the gym consistently, it could be easier to find a workout buddy in the afternoon than it is in the early morning. There is more flexibility in scheduling during lunch or after work as oppose to early mornings because it could cut into your sleep.

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3. You have more class options

If you’re a class person or like to attend group classes, I found that there are more class options in the afternoon/evening times versus mornings. So your favorite instructor may teach a couple more classes in the afternoon during the week giving you more flexibility in your schedule.

4. It’s a great way to destress after a long day

One of my favorite reasons to workout in the afternoon is the relief it provides after a long day at work. This is especially true for those who work long stressful hours. That hour you spend at the gym is dedicated you time to zone out is completely relaxing for the mind.[4]

Downsides of Evening Workouts

1. Consistency could take a back seat

Postponing your workouts till later in the day means you are more likely to skip your workouts because of an unexpected event. You’re also more likely to be low on energy after a long stressful day or you have to stay late at work and cancel your workout.

I find afternoon and evening workouts challenging because I’m ready to wind down after a long day and instead have to find the energy to wind up and be mentally prepared for my workout.

2. Crowded gyms and classes

For the most part, gyms are packed in the afternoon because of the after work crowd and in some cases gyms require you to RSVP to classes ahead of time due to limited spots. Majority of the people prefer working out after work and you’ll see an influx in crowds at the gym.

3. Additional preparation required

Working out after work means you need to be more mindful of your meals and make sure that you have prepared additional snacks to help you get through your workout.

It also means lugging around an extra bag with your gym clothes and other essentials.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what time of day you workout because your body will adjust to your schedule when you go the same times every time. What’s important is that you find a time that you can go to the gym consistently that works with your schedule.

It’s important to be consistent because consistency is what’s going to get you results. The road to results is simple but not easy. Mastering consistency year round is what is going to make you leaner and stronger one year from now.

Featured photo credit: Autumn Goodman via unsplash.com

Reference

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