EXERCISE: STANDING BRIDGE
The standing bridge is the exercise we will use to implement functional Gluteus Maximus activation. In my early days of learning about structural integration, I had gone through period obsessed with gluteal function. Out of all the existing exercises that promoted Gluteus Maximus engagement, I found that the supine bridge was the most effective at fatiguing the gluteal region.
It was an exercise I used with my clients on a regular basis and it was seemingly one of the most effective tools in my arsenal for training the musculature at the base of the spine. As time passed and my body of knowledge about the human organism increased, I began to see a fundamental flaw with the supine bridge. I was learning about the concept of associative memory from a behavioural science perspective and was seeing the parallels involved in the neuromuscular system.
I learned that every time we activate a muscle, there is an associated integrated muscular response that will be stimulated in the rest of the body. If that cycle of movement is repeated over the course of time, the body will then wire it in as an integrated neuro pattern. If we look at this concept and how it applies to a supine bridge, it becomes indicative that it may be good for gluteal activation, but only under the context of the knees and cervical spine being inflexion. When we utilize a supine bridge for gluteal activation, the Gluteus Maximus will be concentrically loading as the hamstrings are operating in knee flexion.
Yes, the glutes are fatiguing, but these exercises will also train the brain to associate poor neurokinetics when attempting functional movement in reality (especially when on two feet). It is this realization that made me have to re-evaluate one of my “go-to” exercises, putting me on a path towards discovering the next evolutionary step of the supine bridge: the Standing Bridge. The Standing Bridge is an exercise utilized for the effective engagement of the Gluteus Maximus.
Since our species evolved into a bipedal organism, it is within this context we must incorporate the Gluteus Maximus activation. When executing the standing bridge, the only problem that occurs is executing it within the confines of a dysfunctional body. Since the restrictive hip flexor musculature has acted as a barrier to functional gluteal activation, the body has then wired in associated patterns of dysfunction that will then lead to a centre of gravity built around deficiency. A body in imbalance will incline itself to what it knows best, rather than what is best.
It is imperative to understand that the body knows no difference between right and wrong and that it will only manifest what it has adapted to (efficiently or deficiently) throughout the course of its life cycle. A way to prevent these negative associations from happening is by first being aware of how they manifest in our body, so we can ensure we do not go back into compensation. If we achieve an optimal alignment in terms of joint positioning and articulation in the lumbo-pelvic region, we will take the progressive steps towards developing the Gluteus Maximus, thus setting the base point of efficiency for an efficient posture.