The Dirty Dozen Exercises: Move #2, The Bridge

by Phil Ross on March 29, 2013

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Master RKC Phil Ross explains the Bridge

The Bridge, what an incredible exercise! There is no single exercise for developing two steel cable like spinal erectors supporting and protecting your spine than the Bridge. Being a former wrestler, I had the fortune of being introduced to the Bridge at an early age and while training in Greco-Roman Wrestling, I was taught how to go belly to belly with another wrestler, pop my hips and bridge all the way backward, landing my opponent on his back (or head!) behind me. This required a great deal of practice bridging backward from a standing position. We would also “reverse bridge” from that position, coming up to fully upright and regain the standing position once again and repeat. Little did I realize at the time that I was equipping myself with an incredible foundation of strength that would help me with all of my other physical and athletic activities for the rest of my life. Other than gymnastics, very few high school sports develop the spinal erectors and utilize the bridge to the extent of wrestling and gymnastics.

The muscles in the back at the most important group of muscles in the body. The Bridge is exactly what the name connotes, the exercise “bridges” the upper and lower sections of your body together. Your back is also the support structure for your whole body. How many times have you seen (or experienced) throwing your back out and being completely helpless? One can have “biceps like mountain peaks”, they tweak their back and they are as helpless as a newborn lamb! The importance of the Bridge is second to none. Your central nervous system is housed in your spine and the spinal erectors and other support muscles protect and control the the spine and it’s movement. Why would anyone ignore the single exercise that develops the most important muscle group in the body? The Ancient Greeks knew the importance of a strong back. Look at the depictions of the god Atlas. His exceptionally prominent back muscles rippling under the stress of his eternal task of holding up the world!

How do we achieve this? Who does the Bridge work for?

There are many variations of the Bridge. You will find a variation or modification that may be used by virtually anyone at any age. Even people who have physical deficiencies will benefit from doing bridges. I have students that have suffered severe injuries or were born disabled and they have developed great strength in their backs and abdominals through employing bridging techniques. Not only does the Bridge develop the spinal erectors and other back support muscles but it has a profound positive effect on the abdominals, gluteus, hamstrings and in higher level movements, the shoulders and arms as well. The Tall Kneeling Bridge also develops great strength and flexibility in the quads.

The regenerative and restorative properties of the Bridge are unmatched by any other single exercise group. The Bridge develops stability, flexibility and durability like no other. Implement the Bridge into your workout regiment and develop a “Bullet Proof Back”!


Master RKC, 8th Degree Black Belt, Specialist in Bodyweight Strength and CK-FMS Certified. Phil Ross’ name is synonymous with Martial Arts and Fitness. He is known as the area’s Kettlebell King and has successfully competed on the National Level in…  Read more here.

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  • Jason

    What is the purpose of squeezing the knees together during the bridge? I find when I keep them together I am not able to posteriorly rotate the pelvis no where near as much as when feet/knees are hip width apart. Great stuff!! Thanks!!

  • People definitely overlook the bridge and the back in general! Thanks for posting this!

  • Britt

    Thanks for posting, Phil. I was uncertain how to start incorporating bridges into my exercise program and this video was helpful.

  • Bill Griffin

    Thanks Phil. Great video. Also I enjoyed the adjusted approach to crossfit workouts, as I have gotten older the 100% attack has caused me recovery and injury problems. I have been crossfit certified since 2003. I recently purchased Convict Conditioning (looking forward to having some new knowledge and direction)and have also been incorporating kettle bells in my workouts for some time. At 64 I am still surfing and have found that my back strength and flexibility have impacted me the most, I believe the bridge exercises from your video will help me overcome that situation. Thanks again , God bless, Live Strong. Bill

    • kettlebellking

      Bill – they will definitely help. You may also want to work on tall kneeling chops if you have hip pain. Additionally, Gray Cook’s FMS is excellent.

  • Sam

    I am having the same issue as Jason. I cannot get as much of a pelvic tilt when my knees are together. Is there a reason you don’t have your legs hip width apart?

  • Sam

    Mr. Ross-

    Is there a reason you do the bridge with your feet together versus hip width apart? I find that I can do it with a better pelvic tilt when my feet/knees are hip width apart.


    • kettlebellking

      Hi Sam, by keeping your feet together enables greater recruitment of the glutes and further engaging your hip flexors. This creates a stronger bridge an minizes leakage of power.
      You may want to use a tennis ball or towel between your knees to squeeze an aid you in gaining greater contraction.

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