Defining the Bridge

The question, "what is a bridge," Bothers me. There isn't any concrete definition of the bridge exercise. Each master has his way of explaining it. Some talk about the muscle-building exercise, the glute bridge. Some talk about the wheel pose of yoga. There isn't anything wrong with these definitions. But they aren't complete. So, in this chapter, I will try to through light on the different ways to define the bridge. Let us start with google first. On googling the bridge exercise, this is what shows up.

"Lie on your back with your knees bent. Tighten the muscles in your stomach. Raise your hips off the floor until they line up with your knees and shoulders. Hold for three deep breaths."

This isn't a wrong definition. But it doesn't take the bridge as a holistic exercise. It only talks about the glute bridge. It doesn't acknowledge the other types of bridges.

Now, let us try to find its definition in the "Convict Conditioning" book written by Coach Paul Wade. This book inspired me to start my bridge training. Despite being a book on muscle building, it goes into detail about the bridge exercise. The bridge is mentioned as 1 of the 6 main exercises in this book. If there is a resource comparable to the one you are reading, it will be this one. It gives the 4 most important signs of bridge perfection. They are:

These 4 points in his book summarize the bridge perfectly. Instead of looking at the bridge as an exercise, he looks at it as an idea. He doesn't constrain one into a set exercise technique. He wants his followers to experiment. The book is must read. A lot of the ideas mentioned in this book are inspired by it.

Having seen the definition of the bridge in convict conditioning. We can look at some examples of bridges in civil engineering. In civil engineering, there are two main types of bridges. One is an arched bridge and the other is a beam bridge. Both of these bridges can help us classify our bridge better. Any bridge in which the spine remains straight can be called a straight bridge. Any bridge in which the spine forms an arch is an arch bridge. Most variants in this book will pertain to the arched variants. The arch variant is the core of the bridge exercise. There are limited exercises in the straight bridge category. 

Another take-home point is that the bridge must be performed with the back facing the floor and not the stomach facing the floor. Going by the latter will cause confusion. Exercises such as the pushup and planks will also start to come under the bridge. 

I would also like to add another means of categorizing them, which is based on strength vs flexibility. This will provide a more holistic comparison for each bridge type. A graph between the flexibility vs strength demands will help us understand each bridge better. 

As one might understand, most straight bridge variants won't require much flexibility, whereas the arched counterparts will require more. I will also add a rating for the balance and coordination aspect of the bridge. All this will help us compare one bridge exercise to the other. It will provide a guide to help people.