Frequently asked questions & my best advice for you.
How long do I hold the bridge (reps and sets)?
Q: How long should one stay in this bridge pose? I am used to working in reps and sets - is this different?
A: While the movement of going up and coming down from the bridge is very important to master, I've found that the practice of staying up in the bridge for long periods of time has the most long term benefits. Maintaining the position trains the muscles into a more balanced state, and the effects last. So to answer your "how long" question directly: as long as you can while breathing and maintaining good form... Just make sure your core is not turning off while you are up in full bridge. You'll want to continue the intention of pulling your pubic bone to the sky with your abdominals throughout. You can check for abdominal activity with your hand while in the position.
Q: Should you go up and down or keep it up? For how long? Thanks!
A: You'll get the most benefit by maintaining the elevated position. You'll get more lasting effects on the lengthening of your hip flexors and tightening of your glutes, therefore having a larger impact on muscular balance and posture. Hold as long as you can maintain core connection (active abdominals throughout) and breathing, or until your muscles fatigue (up to 5 minutes). If you need a quick rest, take as many sets as you need to complete 5 minutes.
How frequently can I do the bridge?
Q: Can I do this exercise as many times as I want and during different times of the day?
A: 100% it's a GREAT idea to spread it throughout the day like that, and do it as much as you want. It would be hard to overdo it with this exercise, as long as you are focusing on keeping your core active, and not overusing your legs.
How high/far up should I bridge?
Q: Found this on Google. "The common mistake with the glute bridge exercise is bridging too high, which turns it into a back bridge. When you back bridge, you're firing up the low back muscles instead of the glutes, which defeats the purpose of the exercise." So maybe in an effort to exaggerate the posterior tilt (avoid the anterior tilt) and point the pubic bone to the sky I've inadvertently turned this into a back bridge. Or, put more simply, I'm just bridging too high and that's why my low back gets tight and inflamed.
Do you think this is why I consistently get a tight lower back when doing the bridge? B/c I go too high?
A: Yes. It is consistent with the overall pattern of too much amplitude/effort. And it also makes sense from a biomechanical perspective: the lower back muscles are required to engage to come higher than a full glute bridge.
Q: How far up should we go? At the top of the bridge, should I be more on my shoulder blades, ribs completely off the ground? Also, for the daily 5 minutes bridge routine, is the intent to hold one bridge for 5 mins (eventually) or do you and down reps? Thanks!
Q: Is the goal to press the hips as high as possible while lifting hips, engaging glutes and lengthening hip flexors?
A: The primary goal is to maintain connection to the back anchor zone (and the abdominal engagement that comes with that connection) at all times throughout the movement. That's it. So I'm not nearly as concerned with how high you come up into the bridge as I am about maintaining the connection. The higher you come up, the more challenge it will be to maintain connection.
It's helpful to think about the pubic bone rather than the hips. You'll want to lead with the pubic bone and think about "pulling" it up with your abdominals, which will keep that abdominal engagement. Only go up as high as you feel comfortable and then work at your limit. The glutes will need to engage more and more as you come up higher into the bridge, and yes the hip flexors with lengthen simultaneously. However, try to initiate the bridge without the glutes, by pressing your back anchor zone into the ground to the point that your pelvis unweights.
Q: Is there a best height to reach? Flat? Or trying to go higher? I worry about my foraminal canals being stressed by excessive bending.
A: As long as you can keep your pelvis in a posterior tilt, the foraminal canals will not be stressed. We go MUCH deeper into the bridge and this concept in Week 2, so don't worry about perfecting this right now. Just go easy as this is just an introduction to the bridge.
In the big picture, the goal is to work towards achieving full bridge with ease. However, the best height for you right now is not as objective at that. It is subject to your individual, current condition and level of fitness. You will have to listen to your body in order to get information about this.
Your question brings up an important concept I like to talk about: The BEST thing you can do is continually challenge yourself "where you're at". That's where the most benefits are gained. Too much challenge may set you back, and not enough challenge won't progress you forward.
Again, you will have to listen to your body. If fear is present, this is a limiting factor. We must try to differentiate between feelings of fear, and real somatic sensations. Fear of movement (aka. fear avoidance behavior) changes the way we move and can have harmful effects on our movement patterns. Protective movement is not the same as confident movement.
So for the bridge, this means feeling where the tightness is and working there. As you come up into the bridge, you will reach a point where you begin to feel a challenge in maintaining posterior tilt - pelvis tucked. There will be a force that tries to pull you out of it. This is where you're at. The goal is to push this limit to higher into the bridge - over time.
To sum up: work at the level that's an appropriate challenge for you... that's where the benefits are gained.
Work here until it's less of a challenge, and then progress the exercise (increase the challenge) to match your progress.
Hamstring Cramping Questions
Q: My hamstrings go into spasms?
A: What's mostly likely happening is that your hamstring muscles are cramping. It's very common for students to experience this early on, when first starting out with the bridge. The muscles are not accustomed to contracted in this way, and it takes a little time for them to get familiar with the new position. Until that happens, you can just straighten your leg temporarily until the cramp subsides. Once the muscles get adjusted, the cramping won't happen anymore. It might take a couple sessions, but if you stick with it, it shouldn't be an issue moving forward. However, if you get soreness in your hamstrings after the fact (like the next day), I encourage you to listen to your body and consider taking a day off from the bridge.
Q: I have trouble with this as my hamstrings tend to cramp as I lift my pelvis. So I did the exercise with only unweighting my hips and not sure it helped much. Are there exercises I can do to alleviate the cramping. It happens due to the position of the leg, not because I am using my legs to raise my pelvis. Maybe some type of stretching exercise will help.
Here is a link to the previous live stream referenced for your convenience: How to Make Progress While In Pain Live Stream
Q: I have some rt knee pain that is being investigated in June. I have my back fused from L2-S1. I have been getting cramps like charlie horse in my rt leg that wakes me. When trying to do the bridge the leg spasms started. I returned to just the beginning tilt and could do that. aAny other advice for me?
Turn down the intensity, return to the basics, and build up gradually.
Q: I’ve seen variations on this question but the backs of my inner glutes start to cramp up really badly. It makes me have to lay back down, extend my legs and start over. Is the cramping a cause for concern?
A: This cramping is often a protective reaction by the muscles when they are being asked to function beyond their comfort zone. Either too much load, or outside of their normal range of motion. With the bridge, we are bringing the hamstrings into an extremely shortened position (outside of their normal range of motion) and asking them to produce a lot of force at the same time. Cramping is a very common reaction, and your response to straighten your legs is the right thing to do. With practice, these muscles will soon become trained - they'll become familiar with operating in this new range - allowing them to build strength and eliminate the need for any cramping. The neuromuscular system learns pretty quickly, so just stay consistent and the cramping usually goes away within a few days, or less!
Q: I get a cramp in my hamstrings at the top of the bridge. Could it be that I am going beyond where I should take it to for now? I am quite intensely focused on keeping the core activated and making adjustments. This is an intense movement and exhausting after a few minutes. Thanks.
A: Cramping in the hamstrings is very common and normal when first starting out with the bridge. As your glutes, hamstrings and abdominals get stronger those cramps will gradually... go way (like magic)!
I have one very important point to make with regards to your intensity: I'm glad you're focusing to keep the core activated, but you must turn the intensity down. We'll talk about this in-depth in Module 2, but the high intensity actually works against us when trying to access the small, subtle muscles of the deep core. So turn the intensity way down, but keep your focus high. You'll get stronger over time!
Response: Thank you for the feedback. My hamstrings are a sore today. I will turn the intensity down.
Pain with the Bridge?
Q: Great exercise. I've never done a bridge with this intention, focused on the core and pelvic tilt but it certainly makes sense.
Couple questions and thoughts ...
- My toes and balls of my feet began to almost immediately tingle when doing the bridge. Wonder what that means?
- I've begun to notice a little bit of a dull ache in my lower back or possibly even my SI joints. Is that simply because these areas aren't typically worked and are just getting sore? Or is it an indication I should do something different.
- This is most likely a sign of nerve irritation higher up towards the spine, especially since it's happening bilaterally. The highest probability is that it's the nerve root getting compressed from the extension/backward bend that occurs in the lumbar spine at full bridge. My recommendation is to stay lower in the bridge. Practice up to the point before the tingling occurs, and focus on core connection and expanding that area through your breathing. Do this for a few sessions, until you get more pelvic/lumbar control and hip flexor lengthening, which will allow you to come up higher into the bridge without that tingling occurring.
- You mentioned in a previous post that you tend to over-attack new things. This is most likely a factor here, and also in #1. Actually, it's a pretty common theme in the lower back pain population, and by far the most common concept I coach on. We tend to think that doing more and 'pushing harder' will give us more benefits, but the opposite is true (check out this live stream: https://youtu.be/Ao9kOv4EXlo). There is a lesson coming in module 2 called the "10% Rule" in which I teach why high intensity training is counter-productive in these early stages of core development. In order to access the deep core, we have to perform at a very low (10% or less) intensity level. You'll learn about why in the lesson, but until then I recommend turning down your intensity significantly.
Q: My back is more sore after doing these exercises. Is that normal?
A: Hey Keith, this is likely a sign that something in the approach needs to be changed. The expectation after doing any of the exercises in this first module is that you should feel better after doing them. I actually just responded to a very similar question in this week's Live Q&A session if you want to check it out. I offer some possible causes and recommendations for those possibilities. Here's a link right to my response if you want to check it out:
Q: I’m feeling bending and pulling in my knees. Does that mean I have my feet too close to my back?
Are you supposed to feel soreness in your lower back in the beginning when practicing the bridges? Or am I doing it wrong?
A: It is okay to feel pulling in your knees because the bridge stretches one of the major hip flexors that attaches into your knee as well. If it's too much, you can move your feet a little further way and that will take off some of the tension. The stretching of the hip flexor is a good thing unless the force is going into your lower back.
You are not supposed to feel soreness in your lower back when practicing the bridge. The bridge (and all the exercises in the program) should feel good during and after doing them. If you are feeling soreness or pain, then we need to change something.
The most common reasons the bridge can cause soreness is if you are coming up too high before you are ready, and/or you are losing connection to your back anchor zone and allowing your pelvis to rotate anteriorly (due to tight hip flexors pulling on it). We go deeper into this in week 2.
For now, the best thing you can do is go back to the basics and really focus on the beginning, initiation of the bridge. Follow the instructions to connect and "push away" from the floor with your back anchor zone, and maintain this connection during the bridge. This is the best way to protect your spine. Don't feel like you need to come up into full bridge. This is movement retraining and right now the benefits are in the subtleties, not the extreme ends of the motion. Also, if you upload a video of yourself performing the bridge here: https://driveuploader.com/upload/WJKqeX72CD/ I can see how you're doing and give you some good feedback.
Response: Ok, I took your advice and sent in a video with my legs farther away from my body and did not go into as high of a bridge. Let me know how it looks? When I watched the video, I could still see a little bit of an arch in my lower back when coming down. I have pretty dramatic lordosis so I may not be able to flatten out that arch all together in just a few days.
My response: When it comes to the arch in the lower back, a little bit is natural and normal. Don't worry about "flattening" the lower back or making the arch disappear. Your focus should just be on the anchor connection, and the lower back will go along for the ride. Maintaining the back anchor connection will prevent excessive lordosis and keep it at a natural safe, level.
Q: I’ve always liked bridge but when I started having these back pains and horrible pins and needles down my right leg I avoided it. You’re absolutely right about the back anchor activation & progression feeling “good” and giving relief (of sorts) to the back area. However, actually going into even a low-ish abdominal activated bridge I get the shooting (and very irritating) pins & needles down my right. What’s going on here, do you think Dr Ryan?
A: There is a nerve compression causing this radiating pain, most likely from a disc protruding into a lumbar or sacral nerve root. This is very common and is often referred to as sciatica but that would be inaccurate (the correct term is radiculopathy). I can't be sure about the exact location of the compression, but at the end of the day the solution will be the same: to create more space, and this is very possible.
Here's the good news: the latest research shows that this lumbar radiating pain often improves spontaneously, and the recovery rate is 95% within one year. It's my belief that it will take time for the disc to find its landing place, most likely away from the nerve.
Either way, we will want to do everything we can to increase your intra-abdominal pressure (breathing) and lengthen your spine (posture and muscular balance) to correct the root of the problem, rather than hope for a good outcome.
I would guess that what's happening with the bridge is that for whatever reason, the bridge motion is currently adding compression. This isn't something that's consistent for everyone, it just so happens to be the case for you at this time with the particular disc/nerve situation going on. We have to change this because you need to be able to do the bridge, but it can only happen over time.
My best recommendation would be to focus heavily on breathing into your back, with the increased intra-abdominal pressure resulting in the lengthening of your spine (creating space). So Back Anchor and Progression with breathing focus. Then, since the bridge is simply a progression of the Back Anchor Progression, just continue bit by bit (maybe only millimeters) towards the bridge until the point "just before the pain", and stop before the pain actually occurs. This point is your current level.
We will want to push this level, bit by bit, each day/week until you can get a little bit further into the bridge. The goal should not be for this to happen more quickly. It may take days to see results, so don't force anything (patience and consistency!). Keep a heavy focus on breathing into your back the entire time to create and maintain that space throughout.
If even the above recommendation is impossible for you at this time due to pain, then I have a couple other recommendations for you. Also, Week 2 is focused on the Front Anchors (opposite of the Back Anchor) and would likely offer relief as they would have the opposite effect on the disc. Hope this helps, and reach out with any further questions!
Response: Got it. It really isn’t “pain” per se;
It’s pins and needles. I can handle them. But should I avoid them? Meaning, stop short of what causes them, when they arrive? It odd, because it seems they come at random times too; but for sure, when I stand up after being in bed or reclined in a hot bath. Also, bridge. And lots of other times. Not too much rhyme or reason that I can tell. But it “feels” true when you say either way the solution is the same: more space. Relieve pressure on whatever compressed nerve is activated.
My response: In general, it would be best to avoid the symptom. Not because it's causing harm or anything like that. These are just sensory nerves giving you an unpleasant sensation, and your body is letting you know that something is not right. There are certain types of pain to "push through", but this is not one of them (different category).
So yes, stop short of what causes them. Become familiar with that "edge" of your range of motion, or activity tolerance so that you are able to train right up to it. Continually test it with the goal of gradually pushing that edge (slowly but surely) towards your goal. Right now that goal is to be able to do the bridge.
Neurological symptoms are funny in that they can seem random, but they actually do have some rhyme or reason. What makes them seem random is that they are often delayed. Standing up after bed/bath could be because your discs have imbibed (or absorbed) fluid while in a non-gravity dependent position, and the moment you stand up all that fluid pressure is now subject to gravity, causing some compression. It's not to worry about, it's a somewhat normal pattern.
Soreness after the bridge (DOMS)
Q: I felt very sore yesterday, like my glutes were exhausted almost, and only from 5 minutes of this exercise. My lower back was also very achey for the first part of the day. I feel like I must really be working on the area that needs to be worked on, but can I be overdoing it? Am I supposed to have soreness after the exercise? I tend to overdo it most of the time, and I'm wondering if this is a normal feeling or I need to hold back some.
A: It's very possible that you overdid it, a little bit. It's pretty common for us to want to do more - or go harder - to get the extra benefits, but you'll actually get more benefits from keeping the intensity low in these early modules. In fact, there is a lesson in Module 2 called "The 10% Rule" about how, from a neuromuscular perspective, 'overdoing it' is a strategy that works against us right now. Eventually we'll turn it up, but for now, listen to your body and keep things subtle. Put your effort into your focus - of tuning into your body and core connection.
Tight Lower Back Muscles
Q: I've done week 1 three times b/c I really needed to learn the back anchor and the "feeling" of the breathing and deep core. I've been dilligent to do my exercises every day. I've also started to include a couple "bridge positions" and I can feel my deep core engaged while in the bridge position in a way that I hadn't originally (a good thing). However, my low back still gets extremely tight. While I'm in the bridge position I take one of my hands and I touch this low back area and the muscles that run along the spine (at about the belt line or just above the belt line) are rock hard. I have no idea how to do this bridge without my low back muscles being engaged. I also feel my glutes engaged but I think that's a positive thing. Just not sure why my low back gets so tight or how to do this bridge position without using my low back. It doesn't really even seem anatomically possible?
A: From a biomechanical perspective, the lower back muscles do not perform any of the motion in the bridge. All the movement/excursion happens through the hip joints, and your lower back has enough support in the bridge position that your back muscles don't even need to engage. I say 'need' lightly, because they will engage naturally in synergy with the body.
The problem is the amount of engagement. You are dealing with deeply engrained muscle firing patterns which include the predictable pattern of hyperactivity in your lower back muscles. This is a DIFFICULT pattern to break out of, especially because the most effective thing you can do to change the firing pattern is try less hard. It is a counter-intuitive thing that kept me in the cycle for many years. More physical effort means more muscle recruitment, which means any hyperactive (lower back) muscles join the party in full force.
Less effort is the way to get the most benefit in these first 2 weeks of the program. We can turn up the intensity later, when building around a healthy pattern. I can see how driven you are, and encourage you to apply the majority of that drive in the form of mental focus to tune into your body.
Response: This counter intuitive thing is not only really new for me, it's really hard ... And yet at the same time I know it is EXACLTY what I need.
For now I think I'm gonna keep the bridge really, really low and solely focus on the 'try less hard' body awareness of engaging the deep core.
My response: There is plenty of time to turn up the intensity after grooving these new patterns.
Q: Oh man, coming back to this lesson having moved onto the front anchors in Module 2. I can get into full bridge, but can’t stay there long without my lower back tightening up. Wish I could get it to relax. I’ve resorted to doing multiple shorter reps, holding it for a few seconds, then coming back down & resetting my back anchors. Sometimes I’ll gently poke my sides while in the “up” position to make sure my core is engaged & I’m staying fat. I’m hoping over time I can sustain this position with my core fully engaged.
Another observation, I can do a bridge with poor form (leg dominant) fairly easily. As soon as I engage my core though, the tug of war starts with my hip flexors. Before long low back starts to fire & I’ve got to rest.
Pretty sure I’m doing it right, or attempting to. Just wish I could get my lower back to chill out.
A: Matthew, I am impressed because your strategy to handle the overactive lower back muscles is exactly what I would recommend. Keep practicing up to your edge of good form with the goal of pushing your limit to progress your endurance. You are nailing it, and I think you are definitely on the right track! I hope that other students read and follow this same strategy.
Getting your lower back muscles to chill out is the goal, and it takes time. They have likely been in a default firing pattern for a long time, for most movements. There is probably a well established 'highway' of communication between your nervous system and these muscles, and your goal is to re-groove a new firing pattern that involves your abdominal/deep core. Once this 'support crew' can regularly come in to participate in your movement, the lower back muscles can feel safe to let off the gas. Repetition over time are key, as well as prioritizing quality over intensity or amplitude of movement. When you get the quality right, the next step is to build the endurance of that connection, since posture is all day long.
Q: Is it common default to anchoring with your neck? I felt like while really trying to use my back anchor, I could feel pressure in my neck as well. (My chin was tucked in though)
A: This may actually be a sign of too much effort. I wouldn't say it's common to default to anchoring your neck, but I would say it's common to recruit other muscle groups when trying too hard. The muscles you need to anchor your rib cage may be a little under-active, so the effort goes up and other muscles get brought in to compensate. Try turning down the intensity so you can focus the energy lower, into the abdominal core.
Tried to do this this morning but couldn't do it. And my shoulders & upper back and neck, which are already weak and painful, started screaming. I tried to relax them but I just couldn't budge without extreme pain everywhere. Up until now I've been doing okay, doing all the exercises.
(Note: This student was doing the bridge on a massage table as she had difficulty getting up and down from the ground. One factor might be that doing the bridge on a soft/cushiony surface adds extra compressive force to the upper back/neck and shoulders. This is most likely contributing to your pain with the bridge by exacerbating your existing condition. Without getting into the biomechanics, it's always better to do the bridge on a firm surface. One idea is if you have a staircase accessible. You can use the top steps to sit on the floor (above the staircase) and do the bridge there, until you are able to get up and down from the floor. Another solution would be getting a more firm massage table. At the end of the day, you can get past this and I'm here to help you.)
Thanks for sharing, Sandy. A couple things:
- Listen to your body.
When the body starts to talk to you (or scream in your case), you have to listen. Your body's communication should be the most important guiding factor as you navigate on this journey. The program is a recipe for bringing your body's muscles back into balance, which is an incredibly successful path for reducing chronic pain. Yet at the same time, everyone is on their own unique journey and will encounter different obstacles along the way. Your body WILL talk to you, and listening is the best way (and only true way) to personalize this journey to match your needs. No one can feel your body except for you (something I write about in my eBook).
- You can get past this.
Your upper back/neck and shoulders have let you know that they're not yet ready for the pressure applied onto them in the full bridge position. That's okay. You can get there because the magic of a biological being is that we can adapt... but our bodies like to do that gradually. You're going to want to take it very slowly with progressing higher into the bridge.
You mentioned that you've been able to do the prior exercises, which means you're part way there with the Back Anchor Progression. So the immediate goal is to gradually progress the Back Anchor Progression by coming up a tiny bit higher each day. The good news is, we spend the entire program refining the bridge because it is such a magnificent exercise to make meaningful change in the body. So there is absolutely no rush to "get to the finish line" with the bridge (I'm still not there), and equally no reason to give it up.
As a guide: a little bit of dull pain is okay, but screaming pain is never okay. Sometimes it requires dull pain to "break through" certain barriers like stiffness and other body tissue restrictions, so don't be afraid of that. Use your intuition to decide if the pain is "good pain" or "bad pain". I also write in my eBook about how the body communicates good feelings too, and you must listen to those to know which things to do MORE.
Q: When I push down with my glutes to my legs, it only goes up a few inches. Is this right?
A: When you push down into your Back Anchor, it should primarily be with your abdominal muscles. Your glutes can join in to help push away from the Back Anchor further, causing the pelvis to elevate a tiny bit. A few inches is more than enough. Even if it just 'unweights' but doesn't raise up any distance, it's still effective for activating the core to initiate the bridge. If your abdominals are strong enough to raise your pelvis off the floor, then only an inch or two is great! The height is of secondary importance, and the most important thing is that you take your time with this important 'Initiation' step to activate your core before coming up into the bridge.
Q: When I do the bridge, my glutes tighten up. I can't relax them. Is this right? Both abdominals and glutes are engaged and tense.
A: Good body awareness! A big YES to your first question. Your glutes are a major driver of the bridge movement and will be engaged throughout the time that you are in an elevated bridge position (full or partial bridge). The only time that we want the glutes to remain quiet is in the very, very beginning, when you "initiate" the bridge by pushing away from your Back Anchor to unweight the pelvis. This should be primarily done with your core/abdominals. As soon as you elevate more than just your pelvis (to come up towards full bridge), your Back Anchor will lose contact with the floor and your glutes will do most of the work. But make sure your core stays active throughout!
Q: Is it a good idea to pre-stretch the quads and hip flexors prior to the bridge to allow for better posterior tilt?
Difficulty getting up and down from the floor...
We've had students who had difficulty getting up and down start by performing the exercises on their bed, or another elevated surface. Although a bed is not ideal as mattresses are generally too soft to feel the connection to your anchors. Try getting creative: a massage table, deck or even the landing/top of a staircase. If it must be a bed, a firm mattress is preferable, but anything is better than nothing.
There is a lesson on getting up and down from the floor in the Extras Library. Here's a link to it:
Also, you can try using a piece of furniture like a couch or sturdy chair to help with getting up and down. Regardless of your situation, it should be a long term goal to work towards getting up and down from the floor safely.
Students sharing insights about the bridge...
on Sep 9, 2022
I realize that before this course I used my legs to get up in a bridge. I am now used to using my core muscles.
My response: Switching to core-based movement in all your activities is a major goal of this program.
on Apr 27, 2022
I’m learning so much here! I’ve been doing bridges for years and never really thought about my core while doing it. I’m a regular weight lifter. For some reason, my pain only comes at night while I’m trying to sleep. As soon as I relax I feel a dull ache deep in my left glute muscle near my spine. I have scoliosis. I don’t really understand how that’s related to glute pain but it must be!
on Sep 16, 2022
Feeling better this week but having some slight issues with the bridge. I am feeling tension or my breath going into my shoulders and neck when I come up. Cannot seem to relax up there but feel like I'm doing everything correctly (able to feel tension in side of abs, core feels turned on, etc.)
My response: It is wonderful that you're feeling your core turn on, and especially the tension in your sides. This increased tension in your abdomen does make it more difficult to send your breath down low, which is part of the challenge in doing the bridge. The fact that you are aware of your breath staying shallow is a great sign that you will be able to gradually improve at sending it lower. Awareness is the first big obstacle, and then comes practice sending it low. Keep it up!
on Dec 3, 2022
Completed day 4 - had to keep coming in and out of bridge during the 5 minutes. I feel that each time my bridge got a little higher. Abs were tired at the end.
on Jun 28, 2022
I have felt this strongly in my upper glutes and lower back and when I hold the position I feel it throughout my glutes as well. I can’t hold the position long or really pull my glutes into the bridge position yet but I can feel the position doing what is intended.
Excellent! I want to emphasize that you are getting maximum benefits simply by challenging yourself at your current level of fitness. It doesn't require full bridge, because it's the 'challenge' that leads to benefits. In other words, you're getting the same amount of benefit that one would get by doing the full bridge (if it were the same level of challenge). You're doing the right thing. Thank you for sharing and keep it up!
on May 28, 2022
I believe I’m doing the bridge correctly. My abdominals do not feel quite as firm as when I’m laying flat. I feel most tension in proximal medial hamstrings. My glutes and core are engaged and pelvis is lifted upwards.
Sounds like you have the right intention. Your abdominals will get more firm with practice, and this will also get easier over time. Later in the program I introduce some progressions of the bridge that will change where you feel the tension. So as long as there's no pain, it seems like you're doing really well with this so far.
on May 16, 2022
Today was a good day. I'm really starting to feel the connection in my core and its helping be more aware how I do things throughout the day. Bridge is one of my favorite things to do. I really made good connection with my back anchor, engaged my core and activated my glutes but only came up about half way as I wanted to make sure I kept my quads from wanting to take over. Look forward to day 5.
Excellent share! As you come higher into the bridge, make your goal to work 'with' the quads, not to avoid them completely. You're right that we don't want them to take over, yet they are necessary in a movement like the full bridge. So the goal is to seek balance. We want the glutes and abdominals to remain a major driver in this movement/position while the quads do their job.
on May 10, 2022
The breathing is the hardest part still but able to do it when I really concentrate. Thank you for all the training.
I agree. When first starting out with the bridge, the breathing adds a lot of challenge. Keep up the concentration and you'll find that it slowly gets easier. The concentration is how the change is made. You're integrating this pattern of breathing into a complex movement, and it will pay off.
on Aug 30, 2021
Turns out, I've never done a bridge with my deep core engaged/leading the way. Its always been legs and glutes... no core. There is a lot to work with here. Hmmm the plot is thickening and I like it!
This breakthrough students usually have within the first 2 weeks of the program... I can tell you are focusing deeply in your body based on the speed of your progress. These realizations will stick with you forever, and you can continue building on them (I expect you to have many more of these along the way).
on Oct 23, 2020
I have been doing the bridge for years, and obviously wrong. I use my legs more than my core. Looking forward to this healing process.
on Oct 6, 2020
I’ve been doing bridges off and on throughout the year. Clearly I was doing it improperly. Such a distinction between this being a core vs limb exercise. I would just thrust upward with legs never having awareness of my core engaging.
First thing I thought after doing this was how disengaged my core must be when I do push ups. Another moment of new awareness.
My only concern at this point is breathing. I seem to tense up when engaging my core at the start of upward movement. It’s hard to breathe in to it. I might just be squeezing my abs and not truly engaging the core of this is the case?
This is a great description of the new awareness and I believe other people will relate to your insight.
To your question about breathing: For now, the tension you are feeling in the front is good. Since breathing is expansion, it doesn't blend well with tension, so don't battle that. Send the expansion of your breath into the back. This is where we need it, and the tension in the front helps us send it there.
This is a focus you'll work on and gradually improve (incorporating into the movements) throughout the program. As you have now seen, Day 1 - The Foundation of Core Strength is the beginning of this process. The ability to breathe into an active core is more of an art than a science because it's mostly about the "feeling". There are subtleties in the amount of tension we need depending on the activity we're doing.
The next lessons in this first week will help you learn how to engage the core in a way that works together with the breathing concept that I teach. The core engagement and breathing "co-operate", and that's the way it should be. Looking forward to seeing you progress through the program!
on Sep 23, 2020
Loved the bridge demonstration. I have not been doing it with that instruction. Provided relief to my back immediately!
That means do more of it!
on Sep 18, 2020
I have to completely concentrate to do this!
This is a good sign. This entire process will require that kind of focus to “tune in” to your body and make the changes. Good job!
on Sep 4, 2020
Yes I felt improvement. Activating the core muscles and tilting the pelvis, relaxing the gluteals actually let me acheive a bit higher bridge while releiving some stress in the hip area.
Now that you've accomplished this, (when you feel ready) you can experiment with bringing the glutes in a bit more at full bridge. This can increase the pelvic tilt and further stretch the front of the hips. Just make sure not to sacrifice losing any abdominal engagement in the process!
on Aug 28, 2020
While doing this I can definitely feel the tightness on my lower back ,hips and Hamstring. I think this is good for my reversing knees pain as well. Can’t wait to learn more. Thanks
You're right, you'll likely see a decrease in knee pain as an additional benefit of getting your body back into balance... as many other people have experienced in this program.
on Aug 23, 2020
I'm very weak holding a full bridge, not even sure I'm achieving a "full" bridge. I feel this will take a bit of practice. It doesn't feel bad, I'm just not able to hold it for very long. Will keep up with intermittent exercises to build up my tolerance and strength.
This is OKAY! Coming up into full bridge is not necessary to get the benefits of the exercise.
The benefits come from having the right intention (staying connected to the back anchor, pubic bone to the sky), doing the best you can, and working at your unique individual level. Just come up as high, and hold it as long as you can while maintaining connection and breathing. And stay consistent!
Ironically, I find it to be a good sign when someone has a lot of room for improvement in an exercise like this, because it means there is a clear path towards reduced pain and improved function.
Q: Even though I can’t hold the bridge for very long, is it ok to keep continuing to the next training the next day?
A: Yes it's okay to continue. We will continue refining the perfect bridge in the next modules as well.
Q: In the daily routine it says marching. What do you mean by marching?
A: The marching refers to an exercise I teach at the end of the Day 3 Lesson: Back Anchor Progression. First, we apply the "push away" to the Back Anchor to unweight the pelvis. Then, if you're able to maintain this while breathing, a marching motion with the legs can add a further challenge. But like everything in this program, you don't need to be able to do this right way. Some things you'll have to build up your strength and work up to doing, which is great! The best practice is always to work to challenge your current level of fitness, and move forward when you're ready. Here's a link to the Day 3 lesson just in case you missed it:
Q: Once in the maintenance phase of core stability, how critical is it to do the front anchor each and every time before doing the bridge? In other words, can the front anchor sometimes be skipped. Or will that affect the success of doing the bridge correctly?
A: Another great question, Mitch! I would say that it's not critical, and can be skipped if you don't feel it's necessary. The most important thing to consider in the maintenance phase is listening to your body. By this time, you will know which exercises are most beneficial to you by the feeling they give you, and should focus on them. The bridge is an awesome "staple" in any routine, and if you can maintain connection throughout, then that's what's important. Personally, I wouldn't completely abandon the front anchor awareness because it can be a great posture "reset" every once in a while.
Q: Yes this helps. I’m wondering in the push away concept how do you sit on a soft surface like a couch if you’re supposed to sit on a firmer chair to engage your sit bones we all sit on soft surfaces daily to relax
A: Good question, Marjorie! After all, we have to apply this stuff to real life. If it's a really soft surface like most couches, it wouldn't be possible to connect to the sit bones and push away from them. You'll be better off fully relaxing, surrendering to the couch and letting the cushions support you. However on any lightly cushioned surface (like many chairs), see if you can feel your sit bones through the cushion and use your own core to support you. Though we can't sit like this ALL the time, it's important that we use our core when we can, because if we don't use it we lose it!
Q: My chest is slightly higher than my abs and no matter how I try, I cannot correct this alignment. My legs are at 90 degrees to the ground so that's good and core tight, glutes too. What can I do to improve here?
A: The next few lessons of the program will directly address this issue. These are changes that must take place over time because the body has been trained to sit in a certain way, and the ribs flaring is a very common pattern. It's likely that this has been going on for a very long time, and it won't be possible to reverse in a single session. Take your time with all of this... keep working at it, and this topic will be addressed further in the next few lessons.
Q: In the videos I notice your palms are facing down while in this position. I had just previously learned about something called "setting the scapulas" which is much easier to do if my palms are facing up. With my palms down it seems like I am internally rotating my shoulders but with my palms up it seems like I can get my scapulas and shoulders into the external rotation. Is it okay if I do it that way or would you prefer my palms stay down?
A: Glad you asked! You're right about palms facing up (and your reasoning too)! You can't see my palms in this video, but I would guess they are facing up. In the Back Anchor Awareness videos they are facing down, and that's not required. Do what feels best for you, and palms up is definitely better for scapula position. Here's a video in the Extras Library specific to arm positioning with the bridge:
Q: This is so great and helpful! You might want to fine tune the abs check around the 4 minute mark where it looks like you mostly tap your superficial 6 pack. Instead, would it make more sense to get fat there and touch your sides to make sure there is no dough boy there?
A: Nice observation, Mike! You're absolutely right, and I really appreciate you pointing that out. This is a great learning opportunity for other students: It's not about the 6 pack abs... it's about the deep core!
"It doesn't matter how many times you fall - it matters how many times you get back up." - Lilly Singh
Wherever you're at in your back pain journey, the goal is to make slow, gradual progress over time. Even 1% improvements are significant over a long enough time span.
The way to progress towards your goal is to challenge your current tolerance/ability. If you can learn to enjoy this process, you will have already met your goal.
Dr. Ryan Peebles, DPT