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My favourite exercise – because it really works!

posted by Joan Palmer


There are so many great exercises that we can do for our legs to build up strength around your back, pelvis and hips, but it’s great when you find one that really works well for you and you can notice a difference from doing it. When time is precious you need something to be as effective as possible.

The exercise I find very effective in building up strength and has been very helpful to my own leg strength is ‘The Bridge’. During my physio career I have taught this exercise on so many occasions and it often surprises people that they have difficulty doing a simple lift of their bottom. More recently I was attending a strength for runners’ class and was amazed that despite many people being able to run very fast they couldn’t manage a simple bridge exercise.

So if you are looking to start getting strong again around the back and legs, this is a good place to start and if you are already exercising, this is a great exercise to supplement what you are doing.

In the pictures below you can see three levels of work that you can progress through.

Initially a simple lift of the bottom. Make sure your arms are across your chest so you are not using them to push off from the floor. Once you are good at doing up to 15 really good lifts, pushing the bottom right up in the air you can initially add a pulsing at the top of the movement so you can really feel your bottom working. You could also add a resistance band across the hips and pull down on it while you push up against it.

Once you have become efficient on doing the simple format you can progress on. In the second picture I have one leg in the air which means you only have one leg to push up through from the floor so this is harder. You will probably find one leg is stronger than the other one. If you find this quite difficult then do stick to doing the exercise on 2 legs for longer. If you progress too quickly you will end up compensating using other muscles instead of the ones you want to use and you won’t notice an improvement.

Finally, the third picture shows me with both feet up on a bench. You could use the bottom of the stairs or even a gym ball to rest your legs on instead, whatever you use, because you have your legs up you will have to work harder to push your bottom up in the air demanding more work on the legs and requiring more stability around the hips. Again, if you are wobbling around when doing this exercise move back a step for a bit longer.


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