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How to Do the Pilates Bridge Exercise

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The Bridge is an excellent Pilates torso stability exercise. This means that one of your goals is to keep your torso really still during the exercise. This exercise strengthens the butt and the back of the legs and teaches core stability. Physical therapists the world over use the Bridge because it’s a safe exercise for those with a weak or injured back.

The Bridge exercise

Follow these steps to perform the Bridge exercise:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, approximately hip distance apart.

    Your feet should be in a comfortable position — not too close to your butt and not too far away. You should be able to easily find the Neutral Spine. Experiment with different placements of your feet to find the best fit.

  2. Inhale: Take a deep breath in, expanding into your back and your lungs.

  3. Exhale: Keeping your torso in one flat piece, press your feet into the mat and squeeze your butt as you lift your hips up off the mat.

    Come up high enough that your body makes a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Don’t press up so high that you can’t see your knees.

  4. Inhale: Maintain the Bridge position.

  5. Exhale: Still holding the bridge, think of knitting your ribs down to your belly, squeeze your butt, and try to lengthen through the front of your hips.

  6. Inhale: Hold the Bridge position.

  7. Exhale: Maintain Neutral Spine as you come back down to the mat.

    Complete 5 repetitions. Transition by bringing your knees into your chest to relax your back. Put one hand on each knee and slowly roll up to a sitting position.

    The Bridge exercise in Pilates. [Credit: Photograph by David Herman and Jordan Levy]
    Credit: Photograph by David Herman and Jordan Levy
    The Bridge exercise in Pilates.

The modified Bridge exercise

You also can do a single leg variation of the Bridge exercise as a modification. Follow these steps:

  1. Place your hands on your hip bones so that you can test your hip stability.

  2. Come up to the Bridge position and, on the inhale, lift up one knee toward your chest, keeping your hips perfectly stable.

    Don’t let your hip drop or twist as you lift up your knee.

  3. Place your foot back down on the exhale. Switch sides.

    Complete 8 repetitions, alternating sides.

    Modifying the Bridge exercise in Pilates. [Credit: Photograph by David Herman and Jordan Levy]
    Credit: Photograph by David Herman and Jordan Levy
    Modifying the Bridge exercise in Pilates.

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