Pillar Bridge

This exercise is considered to be quite difficult (most effective to buttock muscles though), so don’t rush to move up to it until you fully master all the previous buttock training variations (kickback and shoulder bridge). If those are quite easy for you (certainly with correct technique) – try to increase the training load by performing the bridge using additional pillars under your legs and shoulders.
To perform this exercise you will need a stable pillar about 50 cm of height (but not higher than your knees level). The best thing to use is a bed, because it has a soft surface. If you use a chair or a bench – put a towel or other soft object on it, to avoid discomfort during the exercise.
What muscles work: buttock muscles, rear hip muscles, spine muscles.
Performing technique: bend your legs, sit at the pillar, so that your shoulders were at its edge level. You can connect your hands behind your back or put them on hips. Put your legs a little more narrow that your shoulder-width (photo 1). Tilt your head back, using buttock muscles rise your pelvis, so that in top position your body was horizontal (photo 2). Hold the required pause, than go back to the starting position.
Pillar bridge (starting position)Pillar bridge (final position)
Notice: use a stable pillar or put it buy the wall to avoid slipper. Do not stick your pelvis up too much, and do not led it hang down – your body should be straight from shoulders to knees. Since shoulder rise increases the load on knee joint, you should choose the leg position correctly – at the top position they should be at right angle. Perform the exercise in 3-1-3-1 rhythm (three seconds to go up and down, one second pauses at the top and bottom). If you would like to give your buttock muscles some additional static load by keeping the top position for longer time – don’t hold breath, breathe deep and rhythmic. Increase your training level until you can rise the rep amount to 20. On final reps ask someone to control you, or exercise in front of mirror (you may also record the exercise on video), because as you get tired, you decrease the amplitude unconsciously (especially in top position).
As in case of shoulder bridge, this kind of exercise has two complicated variations: top position leg raise (photo 3) and leaning on one leg at the starting position (photo 4) (always start from the weaker leg). The rules of performing remain the same, but the requirements to correct technique become even stricter. To keep balance you can hold your hands behind your head and spread your elbows, getting additional standing points in that way. Remember, that this exercises require more muscle strength and joints hardness, so don’t rush, first, master all the previous kinds of pelvis raises.
Pillar bridge (complicated variation, with leg raised) Pillar bridge (complicated variation, on one leg)
If you can perform at least 20 reps of each exercise, proposed here, with proper technique – you can move on to the higher league. Try to master the two pillars bridge: on shoulders and legs. Since in this exercise you can’t place your pelvis lower than your feet level (photo), the rear hip muscles get an additional load. At the top position your pelvis will be higher than shoulders, but your body from shoulders to knees should remain straight (photo). To safely perform this exercise use only stable pillars. Watch your breath, synchronize it with movement rhythm: 4 seconds to inhale and pelvis rise, one second pause at the top position, 4 seconds to exhale and go down, one second to prepare to the next rep. Though for most, even well-trained athletes this variation of bridge is quite difficult, if you want to test your powers – try to perform it in two variations, descripted above: rising one bent leg at the top position and using only one leg at the bottom. But remember, that you should not include those to your training program until you can perform at least 20 reps of classic two-pillar bridge. Good luck!

Good books to read:

Bret Contreras. Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – Human Kinetics, 2013 – 224 p.
Kavadlo Al. Pushing the Limits: Total Body Strenght with No Equipment – Dragon Door Publications, 2013 – 224 p.
BJ Gaddour. Your Body Is Your Barbell: No Gym. Just Gravity. Build a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You in 28 Days – Rodale, 2014 – 288 p.

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