5 min Bridge

Poorly conditioned back and core muscles have been associated with low back pain in general population, as individuals with low back pain have reduced strength, endurance, atrophy, fatty infiltration, and abnormal activity in various back and core muscles. Obesity has a significant negative impact on back and core muscular endurance in today's world. Exercise for back injury prevention like Bridge (plank) and its variations should address improving muscular endurance of trunk area.

Bridge is a balance and core conditioning exercise. American Council on Exercise (ACE), categorise the Bridge exercise as one of the top ten abdominal exercises. You can perform the Bridge as a stand-alone exercise or modify it into your program.  There are two major types of Bridges, the full Bridge (plank), where you balance on both arms, and the side Bridge (plank), where you balance on one arm.

Try this routine as follows:

Beginners: 5min x 1 sets. If full plank and its variations are difficult to hold on elbows and toes, you can lower knees on the floor for the same time until your condition and core endurance improve before practicing the full version. I call this as modified plank or bridge. Don't sacrifice your technique!

Intermediates: 5 min x 2 sets for 2 weeks and thereafter 5 sec increase on each exercise per week until you achieve 1:30 minutes of each one.

Advanced:  5-6:30 x 2-3 sets. If you believe you can sustain a perfect techniques, try dynamic bridges and its variations. Combine bridge with hip raise, superman movement, side bridge-hip raise. Athletes of different sports like basketball, football, volleyball, rugby using the ball to increase the intensity either under their hand, under feet or both. Rowers can increase the intensity by putting their feet on ergs perpendicularly and longitudinally as intervals!