Greater speed is obtained through reaching a full extension of the hips combined with the propelling power of the hamstring and glute muscles. Exercises that target the further development of these areas need to be performed. Bridging exercises help you to obtain this goal by both building strength in and stretching the associated muscles, so maximum development can be achieved.
The following are several good bridging exercises to add to your speed training program to help you increase your overall speed. It should be noted that the lumbar spine should not be flexed when performing bridging exercises. Focus on using the strength of your hamstrings and glutes to elevate the hips. If you feel excessive pressure, discomfort or pain in your back when doing bridges then you are not using your glute and hamstring muscles adequately.
Bridge Exercises Isometric Bridge
Lay on an exercise mat with your knees bent so that you feet are flat on the floor. Place your arms at your sides with the palms of your hands on the floor. Raise your lower body by pressing with your heels and lifting your hips. Squeeze your glutes together as you make this movement. Your weight should rest on your shoulders, using your arms to maintain balance. Your body should form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. When you reach this position, pull the abdominals towards your spine and hold for 30 seconds. Remember, do not flex the spine, and instead use your hamstrings and glutes to propel your bodyweight upward.
One Leg Bridge
This bridge exercise begins in the same position as the isometric bridge exercise except you extend one leg straight out while keeping the other leg bent and that foot flat on the floor. Lift your lower body off the mat by pressing down with your heel and engaging your glute muscles. Form a straight line from your bent knee to your shoulders and hold your other straightened leg still. Pull your abs in and hold the position for 15 seconds. Release and repeat with the other leg outstretched.
- Perform 3 sets with each leg
Exercise Ball Bridge
Using an exercise ball, lay on your back on the floor with your feet resting on the ball. Place your arms at your sides with palms facing down. Lift your lower body by pressing down on the exercise ball with your heels and raising your hips. Squeeze your glutes together as your raise yourself. Rest your bodyweight on your shoulders and arms. Your body should form a straight line from your feet to your shoulders. When you reach this position, pull in your abdominals and hold for 15 seconds.
Alternating Leg Raise Bridge
Follow the same instructions for the exercise ball bridge only when your body reaches the straight plane from feet to shoulders, raise one foot a couple of inches off the exercise ball. Hold for a count of 2 and change feet while keeping the body plane, glutes tight and stomach pulled in.
- Complete 5 holds of 2 counts with each foot
Remember to use your glute and hamstring muscles and not your spine to perform these bridge exercises. Also, as you become adequate at completing the length of each bridge exercise, increase the time of your holds and/or increase the number of sets.