How to Do Side Bridge Properly

The side bridge, also known as the side plank is an important hypertrophy workout that targets the lower back. This exercise is important for many reasons.

The side bridge targets the often-ignored quad muscles found between the iliac crest and the lower ribs. Many stability workouts usually work the abdominals and trunk extensors.

This exercise isolates and works the lateral trunk muscles and minimizes recruiting the spine extensors as well as the rectus abdominus which consequently reduces the spine load.

Also known as: Side plank

Targeted Muscles: Lower back, Quads

Utility: Auxiliary

Required Equipment: Mat (optional)

Exercise Type: Isolation, Calisthenics

Exercise Mechanics: Hypertrophy

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

STEPS:

  • Place a mat on the floor and lie on your right side. Stack your legs and keep them straight. Put your left elbow under your left shoulder and point your forearm away from you. Make a fist and ensure the pinky side is in contact with the floor.
  • Keep your neck in a neutral position. Exhale and brace your core.
  • Raise your hips off the mat and support your body with your elbow and the side of your left foot. Ensure you maintain a straight posture from your head to your ankles.
  • Pause and hold the position for a few seconds. Aim for between 30-60 seconds, depending on your fitness level.
  • Repeat on your right side.

TIPS:

  • It is normal to find it difficult to hold the plank position. Try working out from your knees rather than your feet as you perfect your technique gradually.
  • Ensure your legs are stacked and focus your gaze forward. Avoid the urge to rotate your body.
  • Do not sag your hips as you perform the exercise. Try reducing the duration with which you hold the plank position. It is better to go for a few seconds with the correct technique rather than going for a longer duration with a poor technique.
  • Relax your face and bottom hand as you do the exercise.

MUSCLES WORKED BY SIDE BRIDGE

The side bridge is a great toning exercise for the obliques, rectus, and transverse abdominis. This exercise works several core and trunk muscles and engages the glutes as synergist muscles.

The main back muscles like the iliocostalis and the latissimus dorsi are also worked by the side bridge.

Other muscles worked by the side bridge include the deltoids, trapezius, and supraspinatus. Also, the pectoralis muscles found in the chest and the Levator scapulae play a stabilizing role and act as synergists that help maintain certain postures as you do the exercise.

BENEFITS OF SIDE BRIDGE

CORE STRENGTH

A strong core is essential for body fitness and day-to-day activities. From performing various workouts to lifting grocery bags, your core plays an important role.

Side bridge builds muscle endurance enabling them to sustain a workout for some time. Being an isometric exercise, side bends force you to maintain a stationary position throughout the exercise. Adding the side bridge to your regular workout guarantees muscle endurance and improved core strength.

MINIMIZES RISK OF INJURY

Many core exercises are challenging to pull, and leave room for sustaining injuries if done wrongly. They tend to put much tension on the neck and the spine. The side bridge, however, engages the core muscles with lower tension compared to the other workouts and reduces the risks of injury significantly

ALLEVIATE BACK PAIN

It has been proven over time to alleviate back pain and minimize the risk of injury. The abdominal muscles provide body stability by supporting the spine and allowing the pelvis to move freely. Overall body stability helps reduce and even prevent back pain.

Be sure to check in with a certified health professional before beginning a new workout program.

ALTERNATIVES TO SIDE BRIDGE

BODY SAW

The body saw is a standard modification of the side bridge that allows for dynamic motion. This workout trains the body beyond an isometric contraction to engage the muscles through their motion range.

STEPS:

  • Begin by placing a mat on the floor and start with an all-fours position. Ensure your elbows are under your shoulders.
  • Move your torso forward and avoid moving your forearms.
  • Move your torso back to resume the starting position.
  • Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps.

TIP: Keep your body rigid throughout the workout.

HANGING LEG RAISE

This exercise allows you to work your obliques to the maximum through their full motion range. The hanging leg raise is an ideal core stability workout.

STEPS:

  • Set a high bar.
  • Using a wide grip, hang on the bar using an overhand grip.
  • Raise your knees in the direction of your chest and twist them towards one side.
  • Resume the starting position and repeat, twisting to the opposite side.
  • Aim for 4 sets of 12 reps.

MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN PERFORMING THE SIDE BRIDGE

DROPPING YOUR HIPS

Avoid the urge to drop your hips as you hold the position. The aim of performing this workout is to strengthen your obliques. Therefore, if you fail to keep your hips raised, you will not train your core to the maximum. The side bridge is far more effective when you raise your hips.

Fix this mistake by holding your body above the ground. You can alternatively place a foam roller below your hips to remind you to elevate your hips above that point.

INCORRECT NECK AND HEAD ALIGNMENT

When you begin getting tired while holding the plank position, you may have the urge to jut your head frontwards, shift your gaze to the ground or turn to face up. Remember however little the form deviation may be, it may pose big problems. Incorrect alignment of the head and neck can put unnecessary strain on your neck and can make the surrounding muscles painful.

Correct this mistake by maintaining a straight posture such that your whole body is aligned from your head to your ankle. If need be, move your head up or tuck your chin to restore the proper posture.

CONCLUSION

Many core workouts primarily target the muscles located in your core. The side bridge trains your obliques-the muscles located alongside your core.

Training your obliques enables you to bend and rotate your trunk with much ease. This exercise guarantees improved posture, and a protected spine and will also minimize back injuries.

If you are a beginner or you sustained an injury lately, or you are not sure about how to execute the workout correctly, consider working with a certified trainer. If you experience any pain when working out, check on your form.

 

Give it a try.