When most riders ask me about my favorite core training exercises few of them expect me to reply with the Bridge. Also called the Wheel in Yoga, this exercise has you extend up off the floor, pressing yourself into a position similar to leaning back over a stability ball and placing your hands and feet on the floor. This deceptively hard yet powerful exercise is rarely included in any mountain bike specific workout and so few riders have actually tried it, leading few who benefit from it.
The power of this exercise lies not in how it mimics riding but in how far removed from riding it is. You see, since most riders are locked up in the Adult Fetal Position (shoulders rounded forward with shortened hip flexors) they need something to open them up in the other direction. Not being able to bridge is an indicator that you are too locked up in the front side of your body and you are starting to suffer from the Adult Fetal Position. This posture is not healthy on you joints and can lead to overuse injuries down the road, making the ability to bridge an important indicator of your overall mobility and core strength.
The idea of needing to restore and maintain balance in the body goes beyond simply addressing the “mountain biker” and gets into addressing the human being. The better the human functions the the better the rider can be and the Bridge is an exercise that goes a long way in helping us address more than just the obvious.
However, as much as I love this exercise I know that it presents a lot of riders with a challenge. In fact, some rider’s I have trained swore to me that they would never be able to do it and yet eventually it became one of their favorite exercises. The frustrating thing is that you don’t get a little better every time to you do it – it can feel like nothing is getting better and then one day you can suddenly move a little more. Your body simply needs the chance to figure things out and once it does you’ll be on your way to enjoying the benefits of this unique core training exercise.
In this video I show you how to perform a good Bridge and how to overcome some of the common problems, including lack of wrist mobility and upper body strength: