As promised, I am continuing my seven-part blog series on core exercises that you are probably doing wrong. Today I am writing about an exercise known as either the Supine Bridge, or the Hip Thrust. Before I continue with the breakdown though, I want to discuss a few of the basic concepts that currently set the bar for proper core training.
Currently, the majority of strength coaches working in the field are shunning away from exercises such as crunches, sit ups and side bends. According to many recent studies flexion and extension based movements can, over time, damage the intervertabral discs. The information is still controversial, however. Some studies suggest that while flexion and extension movement do indeed damage the discs, there are also studies that suggest that they can, in fact, heal in a manner similar to muscle tissue after a hard weight training workout.
- Previously: 7 Core Exercises You're Probably Doing Wrong: The Plank
Current training practices treat the lumbar spine which is made up of 5 vertebrae and the discs separating them, as a series of stability based joints. This means that rather than provide movement, they are meant to provide stability. They aren’t supposed to move but instead are meant to provide a stable platform from which other joints can move and, in turn, generate force. That being said, the core muscles that support the lumbar spine should be trained with that purpose in mind.
Ultimately research may prove that lumbar movement is not as bad as it appears to be. There are already a lot of coaches out there challenging that notion who continue to include crunches and sit ups in their programming. Personally, when another person’s health and wellbeing is on the line, I prefer to err on the side of safety and tend to avoid using flexion, extension and rotational exercises.
But enough of that. Let’s move on to the real reason we’re here:
The Supine Bridge.
What is it?
The Supine Bridge or Hip Thrust is an exercise that is performed lying on the back. It can be considered both and anti-flexion exercise (since you are working lumbar stability and hip extension) and a glute activation exercise. The exercise is performed while lying on your back with your knees bent and your heels on the ground. From this position the hips are lifted into the air up to full extension
A supine bridge can be trained as an isometric exercise or can be performed for repetitions. The two biggest mistakes that I see when performing this exercise is spinal and hip hyperextension as an isometric exercise and pushing through the heels as a repetition based movement.
Both of these issues can be corrected by making one simple change to the way the exercise is performed, and that is squeezing the glutes to lift the hip as opposed to pushing through your heels. When you push through the heels you’re using your quadriceps to push the hips into the air. This can cause both spinal and hip hyperextension. By simply using your heels as a support and squeezing your butt to lift your hips you’ll find that the exercise is much more effective.
In my next installment we’ll be covering the side plank.