Lateral Bridges (also referred to as Side Bridges) is a dynamic plank exercise that targets the obliques and the glute med. They are great as a warm-up movement for lower body lift days or as part of a core routine to finish off a workout.
In this guide I’ll show you how to do Lateral Bridges, what muscles they work (probably more than you think) and a few alternatives in case you need them.
How To Do Lateral Bridges
- Start on the ground in a Lateral Plank position – on your side, one elbow down and feet, hips and shoulders stacked vertically above one another.
- The opposite hand (non-support arm) can be placed on the hip or held up in the air.
- From this position, lower the hips down and lightly tap the floor.
- Drive the hips back up to the starting position and repeat for the designated number of reps.
The biggest mistake I see with my athletes with Lateral Bridges is allowing the top shoulder to hunch forward. Both shoulders (along with hips and feet) should be stacked directly above each other. Do not allow yourself to twist forward toward the ground with your upper body.
What muscles do Lateral Bridges work?
Lateral Bridges directly target the Obliques, but they work so much more than just the Obliques. The Rectus Abdominus (your six-pack) also get really good work out of the Lateral Bridges.
And it’s not just your abs. The hip abductors play a role in the movement, the QL (Quadratus Lumborum) which provides spinal stability is worked and this doesn’t even include the upper back muscles that have to work to keep yourself raised up off the floor.
Lateral Bridge Variations
There are a few tweaks that you can make to Lateral Bridges to make them more challenging. Here are a few examples:
Weighted Lateral Bridges
If regular Lateral Bridges become too easy, then it’s pretty easy to add a little extra resistance by holding a weight plate or dumbbell directly on the hip. Movement itself stays exactly the same.
Feet Elevated Lateral Bridges
Elevating your feet onto a bench or a box is another way to make the movement a little more challenging. Again, the movement otherwise stays the same.
If you’re really feeling up to the challenge, elevate your feet and add some weighted resistance.
Lateral Bridge Alternatives
If you can’t (or just don’t want to) do Lateral Bridges, for whatever reason, here are a few alternatives you may be able to try.
The most obvious alternative is to just remove the remove and turn Lateral Bridges into the static Lateral Plank.
DB Side Bends
If getting down onto the floor is an issue, then DB Side Bends may work as a substitute. You won’t get all the added benefits that holding the plank position brings, but they are a good exercise to target the Obliques.
If you want to keep things simple you can opt for tried and true Oblique Crunches. Lay on your back, place one foot over the opposite knee and crunch across your body. Simple but effective oblique exercise.
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