Whole-Body Wellness Challenge: Bridge Progressions
Your step-by-step guide to this feel-good move that builds strength in your backside while stretching your shoulders, chest, and hips.
The Whole-Body Wellness Challenge is rooted in the understanding that health isn’t just about fitness. This month, we’re sharing fun and easy ways to bring everything you love about SilverSneakers classes and your time at the gym to other areas of your life. You’ll find workouts, tips, and activities to help you build strength, eat healthier, sleep sounder, and be more present in your life so you can feel good—body, mind, and spirit.
Take a moment to assess your posture. Are your shoulders and chest rounded reading this article on a teeny phone screen? Is your back hunched and out of alignment with your hips?
If you answered yes to these prompts, you’re definitely not alone. Modern life doesn’t always make it easy to treat our bodies well. Too much sitting can leave us with aches and pains. And poor posture may even impact how we handle stress.
Your game plan? Build self-awareness and practice moves that bring you relief.
One of the best exercises you can do to ease stiffness and build better posture is called bridge pose, says SilverSneakers instructor Shannon Thigpen. The exercise is particularly good if you spend a lot of time sitting (so, pretty much all of us!). First, it stretches the muscles in the front of your body that often become tight and contracted from the sitting position. At the same time, bridge pose strengthens the muscles in the back of your body that don’t get used as much when you’re sitting like the glutes and hamstrings (the backs of your thighs).
Give it a try with us! Whether you’ve never tried bridge before or are a yoga pro, you’ll benefit from Shannon’s step-by-step instructions.
How to Use These Bridge Pose Progressions
You’ll just need yourself, some open floor space, and a comfortable surface to lie on. That could be a yoga mat, a cushy carpet, or even your bed if you don’t want to get down on the floor.
When you’re ready, press play on the video above and follow along with Shannon. You can also find written instructions below. Start with Variation 1, which you can do standing or lying down. If that feels comfortable, feel free to try full bridge.
As you hold the pose, be mindful of your form and take full breaths.
Feel free to incorporate this move into your strength routine or turn to it any time you’re feeling stiff. Shannon also suggests trying it in the morning before you get out of bed. Talk about starting your day off on a strong note!
Remember: Safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than your regular SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
Variation 1: Pelvic Tilt
Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart, and heels a few inches away from your buttocks. Pull your belly button toward your spine to minimize the arch in your lower back and squeeze your glutes. When you’re ready, slowly tilt your hips forward and back. Feel the stretch in your lower back and in the front of your body as you go back and forth.
Variation 2: Bridge
Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart, and heels a few inches away from your buttocks. Press your arms into the floor for support, and brace your core to minimize the arch in your lower back.
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Push through your heels and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up until your body forms a straight line from your knees to shoulders. As you get stronger, focus on getting your shins as close to vertical as you comfortably can at the top of the movement. Pause, then slowly lower back down one vertebra at a time.
Variation 3: Bridge to Leg Lift
Begin in your bridge pose with your hips lifted off of the mat. From here, press one foot into the mat and lift the opposite leg up. Then lower your raised leg just until your knees are next to each other. Pause here. Aim to keep your hips parallel.
When you’re ready, bend that lifted leg, place the foot down, and lie back down one vertebra at a time. Repeat on the other side.
Bonus Challenge: Try a SilverSneakers Core Training Express Class
Think you don’t have time to join us for class? In just 15 minutes, our Core Training Express class will have you feeling strong and stable, thanks to moves designed to work and tone all the muscles of your midsection. See the latest SilverSneakers LIVE schedule and RSVP for classes here.
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