Bridge Press for Stronger Glutes, Triceps and Pectorals

Everyone wants bigger and stronger glutes, and most people love to train variations of the bench press. Sometimes you don’t have time to train both. Other times you just want a novel way to develop them. That’s where the bridge press comes in.

Bridge Press
I came with this exercise years ago for the combat athletes I was working with. The purpose was to build their punching power while maximally engaging their hip extensors, a group of muscles largely responsible for explosive strikes. Indeed, you need super strong glutes and hamstrings to develop devastating punches and kicks.

The other benefit of this exercise is that it allows you to train two foundational movements patterns with one exercise. Pair the bridge press with an upper-body pull, such as a pull-up or row, and you’ve got an efficient full-body workout that builds functional strength.

I use multiple variations of the bridge press for my clients, but today I want to cover the three primary versions that work especially well for virtually anyone. We’ll start with the bridge press using one band around the thighs, and then I’ll cover two ways to progress the exercise.

Bridge Press (1 band)

Description: A strong resistance band is placed above the knees to engage the glutes that resist internal rotation and adduction of the hips. Hold a dumbbell in each hand for the floor press portion of the exercise.

The next progression is add more resistance to the floor press (i.e., horizontal push).

Bridge Press (2 bands)

Description: Here you’ll wrap a long resistance band across your upper back and then loop each end around the handles of the dumbbells. This serves two purposes. First, the band accommodates resistance by matching your strength curve of the exercise. Band tension is lowest at the bottom (where you’re naturally weakest) and highest near lockout (where you’re naturally strongest). The other benefit of using a band is that it doesn’t require you to get heavier dumbbells into position, which can be risky for the shoulders. The additional load comes from simply adding stronger bands.

The final progression takes a little work to set up, but it’s well worth the effort.

Bridge Press (3 bands)

Description: You’ll add a third band across your pelvis to resist hip extension. Use a strong band and secure each end of the loop around the handles of very heavy dumbbells or any other secure objects.

Programming
I typically have clients perform 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps to build size and strength. I also use it as a corrective exercise for those that need more hip extension strength but have problems performing a standing hip hinge.

As mentioned earlier, if you pair this with an upper-body pull exercise it’s a simple way to design a workout that fits in a full-body training program.

Another benefit of this exercise is that it spares the spine, making it a great option for high frequency training.

These are some of the strategies you’ll learn when you take a Corrective Exercise Specialist course, which is a terrific way to take your skill set to the next level.

Stay Focused,
CW
P.S. For my daily videos, follow me on Instagram here.

3 Types of Strength Preparation

As you program a strength and conditioning plan to prepare an athlete for competition or sport, it’s imperative to know the three types of strength preparation. In this blog, I’ll give a brief overview of each, as well as some sample exercises.

If you’ve been around the strength and conditioning world for any amount of time, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term General Physical Preparation (GPP). This is also known as General Physical Preparedness, while others like to call it General Strength Preparation (GSP).

I mention these semantics up front, because there are numerous terms, used in different parts of the world, to describe the same thing. When it comes to sharing information about strength preparation, that’s part of the confusion. My goal of this brief overview is to make the topic of strength preparation as simple as possible by dividing it into three types. Let’s start with GPP.

What is General Physical Preparation (GPP)?
Imagine you’re working with a teenager that shows promise as a running back. The problem is, he’s pretty skinny and weak overall. He needs to build his full-body power and size, as well as strengthen his tendons and connective tissues using multi-joint exercises such as the deadlift, row and overhead press. Included in this category are basic cardiovascular exercises such as swimming, cycling and skipping rope.

What he doesn’t need to do is sprint with a parachute or practice running different routes while wearing a weighted vest.

The quest to build the basic components of fitness without regard for the specific movements required in a sport is GPP in a nutshell. When GPP is done correctly, such as the programs in my Huge in a Hurry book, it makes a guy or gal a better overall athlete, which carries over to virtually any sport.

So if the kid in question decided to forego his aspirations of being a running back, and switch to another position or sport, his body would be prepared to meet those physical demands.

In Siff and Verkhoshansky’s revered text, Supertraining, GPP is “…intended to provide balanced physical conditioning in endurance, strength, speed, flexibility and other basic factors of fitness…”

When to emphasize the GPP phase: The core components of GPP can be used year-round, whether it’s in- or off-season. However, two key times that often provide the most benefits are:

– When an athlete is far from his or her strength potential and physical fitness

– The early stages of the off-season

For example, you might determine that a hockey player needs to build his deadlift in the off-season to give him more power and explosiveness on the ice during the next season. So you start with that in the early stages of the off-season, and then work toward more specific physical preparation, which we’ll cover now.

What is Specialized Physical Preparation (SPP)?
The Specialized Physical Preparation phase (aka, Specific Physical Preparation or Preparedness) is intended to more closely mimic the movements and energy systems’ demands of a sport, when compared to GPP. A primary goal of SPP is to integrate the fitness qualities gained in the GPP phase so they’re more specific to what the athlete will need during a sport.

There are two basic phases of SPP, which get progressively more specialized to the sport: SPP phase 1 (SPP1) and SPP phase 2 (SPP2). Let’s stick with the example of the hockey player that needs to improve his explosive power.

In the GPP phase you had him build his deadlift, a basic move that doesn’t look much like anything a hockey player does while wearing skates. Now, in SPP1 you’ll have him perform a single-leg squat, which more closely mimics the movement pattern a hockey player must do while on the ice. A single-leg squat isn’t exactly the same, but it’s merging in that direction. This is SPP1.

From an energy systems standpoint, you could have the hockey player perform sprints on a track, or up a hill, with rest periods that are relatively short. An example would be: 10 rounds of 10-second sprints with 60 seconds rest between each. This will start to build the ATP-PC system power needed for ice hockey, progressing from the basic low-intensity cardio in the GPP phase (e.g., swimming, cycling, hiking, etc.).

When to emphasize the SPP1 phase: In the second half of the off-season.

Now we’re on to the last phase, SPP2, which is intended to mimic the movements and energy systems’ demands of the sport as closely as possible. So instead of focusing primarily on the single-leg squat, you’ll have the hockey player perform drills on the ice while wearing a weighted vest. Indeed, the movement patterns and energy systems are trained in sync with the specific demands of the sport.

When to emphasize the SPP1 phase: In the last quarter of the off-season.

GPP, SPP1 and SPP2 Constantly Overlap
I want to iterate that the above is a gross simplification of three seemingly separate phases of strength preparation. I did it that way for clarity. In reality, GPP and SPP “always form an interconnected unit” as stated in Supertraining. In other words, your athlete can train the deadlift, single-leg squat, and skating drills wearing a weighted vest in the same phase. The difference, however, is the time and energy you devote to any of those three.

During the “GPP” phase, a greater emphasis is put on increasing strength for the deadlift. In the “SPP1” phase, you decrease the volume and intensity of the deadlift to build the single-leg squat. And in the “SPP2” phase, the volume of deadlift and single-leg squat work decreases so you can increase the intensity of skating with a weighted vest. In other words, there’s generally not a GPP or SPP1 or SPP2 phase as much as there’s an emphasis on one of the three, as I’ve depicted below.

Also, very specific drills can be performed in the early stages of GPP to rehabilitate an injury or imbalance that occurred during the season. This is one of the best times to perform the corrective exercises in my Powerful Mobility ebook that’s on Amazon.

Speaking of corrective exercise, if you’re a trainer, coach or therapist that wants to enhance your skillset and income stream by becoming a Corrective Exercise Specialist, check out my 10-week course at this link.

Stay Focused,
Doc Waterbury

Ultimate Gluteal Development

Everyone wants better glutes, whether you’re a guy or gal, athlete or non-athlete. That’s because glutes that are awesomely developed not only make your body look better, but they can also drastically improve your performance. When the glutes are strengthened and built using the correct combinations of exercises, you’ll run faster, jump higher and improve the strength of all your lower-body lifts.

In order to quickly build muscle to the highest level of size and performance, all of its fibers should be recruited by the end of a workout. The glutes are a tri-planar muscle at the hip, which means it can function in all three planes of movement:

  • Sagittal plane = hip extension
  • Frontal plane = hip abduction
  • Transverse plane = hip external rotation

The problem is that most people only train the sagittal plane function of the glutes: hip extension. I’m talking here about the typical squat, deadlift and lunge variations. This is why my course teaches you in-depth anatomy and biomechanics.

Last fall I spent four months working with Christopher Powers, Ph.D., at his Movement Performance Institute (a glute-focused sports medicine facility if there ever was one). I worked with athletes and non-athletes that needed to overcome pain and poor performance due to knee, low back or hip problems.

The early stages of Professor Powers’ system focuses heavily on strengthening the glutes in the frontal and transverse planes – hip abduction and hip external rotation, respectively. Pure hip extension isn’t usually trained until weeks into the system.

There were two key observations I made after training athletes primarily in hip abduction and external rotation for up to 6 weeks straight:

  • Their glutes got substantially larger
  • Their hip extension strength increased

Their glutes got bigger because they were recruiting muscle fibers that perform hip abduction and external rotation, which had been neglected in the gym from doing nothing but squats, lunges and deadlifts.

Prof. Powers has been a pioneer in research that demonstrates a link between frequent gluteal activation and a stronger mind-muscle connection, which is an essential component of strength and hypertrophy development. So even though pure hip extension wasn’t trained, that movement got stronger because the brain was better able to recruit the entire gluteal fibers in any future task.

My point here is that ultimate development of your glutes requires a strong emphasis on hip abduction and hip external rotation. Those two movement planes must be frequently trained in order to build the glutes to the highest level of size and performance.

Test Yourself

Before you watch the video where I outline my favorite 7-minute glute-building sequence, test yourself (or one of your clients).

  • Stiff hamstrings? Do a standing toe touch assessment, then perform the glute sequence and immediately retest it.
  • Knee or low back pain? Do a movement which causes you to feel the discomfort, then perform the glute sequence and immediately retest it.
  • Need to improve your squat, lunge, deadlift, sprint or vertical jump? Do the following sequence twice each day for 2 weeks, then retest the exercise you’re trying to improve. Your performance will definitely go up!

The following Ultimate Gluteal Development sequence requires a mini-band. I use the bands made by Perform Better, which can be found at this Amazon link. Most females should start with a yellow mini-band; males can start with a green. The key is to progress the band tension as your strength improves.

  • Goal for males: perform the entire Ultimate Gluteal Development sequence with a black Perform Better mini-band.
  • Goal for females: perform the entire Ultimate Gluteal Development sequence with a blue Perform Better mini-band.

Here’s the Ultimate Gluteal Development sequence, a collection of my favorite glute-building exercises, all crammed into a 7-minute drill. Do this sequence at least once per day (preferably twice), at the beginning of your regular workouts or as a stand-alone drill.

I highly recommend you make this a foundational activation sequence for you and your clients, for years to come.

Use these drills in conjuction with full-body workouts to transform your physique and performance.

Stay Focused,
CW

A Better Way to Calculate Your 1RM

blog PL max It’s never been easy to accurately determine the maximum amount of weight you can lift for one rep.

You either expend a ton of time and energy as you lift, rest, add weight, lift, rest, add/reduce the weight, etc. – judging, missing, and guessing your way throughout the haphazard journey. This cycle continues until you find a true one-repetition maximum (1RM). The process, at best, will take 15-20 minutes per exercise and it can be exhausting – literally and figuratively.

Or you perform a submaximal set to failure and plug your numbers into an equation that may, or may not, have been clinically tested. Furthermore, many indirect methods (i.e., submaximal lifts) that calculate a 1RM require you to fail at a specific rep, say, rep 10 or the calculation won’t work. Continue reading

Q & A: Whey Protein and the Deadlift

This week I decided to answer two questions I recently received from a reader. -CW

Chad, my dermatologist recommended that I stop using whey protein. However, I know you recommend it for pre- and post-workout nutrition. What should I do?

CW: First off, acne is primarily caused by excessive inflammation in the body. So anything that reduces inflammation can help clear up your skin. You can put every acne cream ever invented on your face and it still won’t work nearly as well as cleaning up your diet by adding anti-inflammatory foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and wild fish.

So the question is: does whey protein increase inflammation? I believe that 99% of them do because the natural immune-boosting nutrients in whey have been destroyed through heating and acidification processes used in most whey protein powders. However, what if whey protein is manufactured the right way, thereby keeping the immune-boosters in tact? From what I’ve experienced with clients, a clean whey protein such as this one will probably decrease inflammation in most people. Continue reading

Bare Bones Physiology

blog skeleton
Your body is comprised of around 206 bones. Unless you broke one of them at some point in your life, you probably don’t give much thought to any of them.

But bone physiology is important for any trainer or hard-training athlete to understand, so I’m going to cover the basics of what you need to know.

First off, bone isn’t a passive tissue that just maintains your uprightness and holds your soft tissues in place. Nope, bone is a living, adaptable tissue that’s classified as an organ. It can grow, repair and remodel, much like muscle tissue. Continue reading