This week’s #FormFix shines its spotlight on the shoulder bridge.
A well-known exercise in the Pilates repertoire, the shoulder bridge appears in other variations such as the basic glute bridge and hip thruster. So if you’re a meathead, this little #FormFix tip is for you too!
What’s so badass about the shoulder bridge?
Well it does double duty: Lengthens and stretches the quads and hip flexors while strengthening the booty, hamstrings and the surrounding muscles in the spine. It’s a nice way to warm up the posterior chain before initiating our big lifts too, so whether you use it for Pilates or a warm-up exercise, it doesn’t matter. Just get really, really good at it.
What does matter is how you do the shoulder bridge because doing it incorrectly can lead to back pain and injury down the line. Obviously, that’s not the end goal here so let’s make some adjustments.
Clean It Up
The incorrect version of the bridge below has me in hyperextension (which you can’t really see because of my shirt). But, take a look at how there’s a slight curvature happening from the pelvis, ribs and chest. That clearly illustrates that I’ve pushed my hips so far up and taken my body out of alignment. It’s almost like my spine is shaped in a rainbow here, which serves only to aggravate the lower back. Also, this position doesn’t allow me to use my butt adequately, so you can say goodbye to bootliciousness if this is how you approach your shoulder bridge.
The correct version shows a different story. You can see that there’s a direct line from my knees down to my shoulders. This enables me to squeeze my butt properly, stretch out the front of the thighs and hip flexors while activating the muscles surrounding the hips and spine.
If you want to get the most out of the shoulder bridge, keep these key points in mind:
– Press down through the feet as you lift the pelvis up
– Squeeze your glutes as you lift
– Maintain the shoulder heads down on the floor like you have heavy bricks pushing them down
– Keep your spine neutral, meaning don’t create that excessive arch in the low back or push your ribcage up to the sky
– Keep your abdominal wall engaged and pulled in throughout the movement
When To Use It
If you’re a runner or lifter, the Pilates shoulder bridge is an excellent activation exercise to include in your warm-up. Just do 8-10 controlled reps with a 1-2 second hold at the top for about 2-3 sets. You can also use this as an accessory exercise, starting with bodyweight and then progressing with resistance bands around the knees or adding weight around the hip.
If you’re not a runner or a lifter, it doesn’t matter because 99% of us have weak hip musculature, are super tight around the hips and quads and need to create balance and strength in the backside of our body anyway. In other words, if you are a human you should do a variation of the shoulder bridge because it’s only make you stronger, better and faster.