We’re checking in with strength and bodyweight coach Aleks Salkin today to talk mobility, specifically back flexibility, and as you can see in the below photo, Aleks is the perfect person to chat on the subject. So, take it away, Aleks!
I love bridges.
And not Bridges-of-Madison-County bridges, but actual back bridges. It’s a great exercise, and if you don’t like it you’re wrong.
Why are bridges so badass? Well, there’s roughly a metric shit ton of reasons, so I’ll just list a few.
1) Flexible strength at its best.
– Quite often our strength training – and especially bodyweight strength training – nets us a lot of hunched over-ness. Not awesome, especially if you want to remain healthy (and I’m assuming that if you’re reading this it’s a consideration). Back bridges completely reverse it and stretch the hell out of everything from your quads, your hip flexors, your abs, your chest, your shoulders, your forearm flexors while simultaneously strengthening your spinal erectors (the pythons you’ve got running up each side of your spinal column), the various muscles of your upper back, and lots of other stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting.
2) Breathe happy
– Back bridges – whether done as holds or as pushups – help you breathe better by opening up your midsection and rib cage without investing a boat load of time. A few reps or a minute or two will do you just fine.
3) Back bridges help to protect your spinal cord.
– Your spinal cord is a complex thing that helps the brain send messages all throughout the body. Building up the flexible and dense armor that surrounds it – your erector spinae (or spinal erectors) – adds some additional protection to something that you literally can’t do anything without.
4) Unlock your full-body power
– Sounds like hyperbole, but it’s not. In Convict Conditioning, author Paul Wade likens the spine to the universal joint in a car. Movements from the legs, waist, limbs, and torso are better able to be expressed with the back is strong and limber.
5) Bridges are just cool! And they’re a great litmus test of how well you control your body overall. If you can do a boatload of cool party tricks but can’t bridge to save your life, work on that and you’ll be amazed at the things that will open up for you: not just your shoulder girdle, abs, and hips, but your athleticism as well.
While you’re getting ready to bridge like a madman/woman, here’s a video you can enjoy of how to work your way into a full back bridge
Enjoy both my hilarious hair and the shrieking, banshee-like song of the cicadas in the background.
Aleks Salkin is a StrongFirst-certified kettlebell instructor (SFG), StrongFirst- certified bodyweight Instructor (SFB), and an Original Strength Specialist. He grew up scrawny, unathletic, weak, and goofy, until he was exposed to kettlebells and the teachings and methodology of Pavel in his early 20s. He is currently based out of Jerusalem, Israel and spends his time spreading the word of StrongFirst and calisthenics, and regularly writes about strength and health both on his website and as a guest author on other websites. Find him online at http://www.alekssalkin.com.