What Is A Back Bridge?

The bridge is a very common move not just in pilates, but in many stretch routines of other sports.

This is mainly because it is such an effective move that has a lot of benefits and is easy to do. It targets your lower back, hips, and spine without putting too much strain on the muscles.

As a move, it is commonly used by people with lower back pain as it can help to ease the muscles and stretch them without causing strain.

However, it is also useful for people who don’t have back problems as it strengthens many muscles and aids in flexibility.

It is useful for all body types in order to build up core strength and stabilize the spine.

It can also help to make to spine more flexible which will improve your form in other exercises and reduce the risk of back injuries.

In this article, we go over how to do a back bridge, some variations you can try, and what benefits it brings to the body.

How To Do A Back Bridge

Below are the steps you can take to perform a basic back bridge. This version is simple so it is suitable for beginners.

  1. Lie down on your back on a mat. Have your arms by your side palms faced down.
  2. Your feet should be on the floor with your knees bent.
  3. Tighten your abs, glutes, and hamstring muscles to raise your back off the floor.
  4. Do this slowly until your knees and chest are in a straight line. Don’t remove your shoulders from the floor.
  5. Hold this position for a couple of seconds.
  6. Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
  7. Repeat. 

Don’t push your body up with your hands or shoulders. The goal is to use your core strength, glutes, and hamstring muscles.

Don’t lift your hips too high as that can cause additional strain and possibly put pressure on your neck.



There are many different variations of a back bridge in pilates. Even other sports have their own variations of the back bridge. Below are some common variations that you will see in pilates.

One Leg

This variation puts extra emphasis on the hamstrings and can help to improve balance.

To perform it you get into the starting position we mentioned above but lift one of your feet off the ground until it is straight. Your knees should still be at the same height.

Next, you simply perform the above bridge action but with only one foot on the ground. Once you have done a few reps you can swap to the other foot.


Elevated back bridges force you to lift your hips higher in order to be in line with your knees and shoulders, but it puts less strain on your back if you were to lift them high without the elevation.

You can use an exercise ball or blocks to put your feet on.

With the exercise ball, you can also attempt straight-leg back bridges.

This is quite a difficult variation with you having to keep your legs straight and on top of the exercise ball before you move your hips up.

Wall Or Tower

This variation is fantastic for the spine as it helps to slowly bend each section of it.

You will need to sit facing a wall or closed door and put your feet on it with the bottoms of your feet being flat to the wall. Your knees should be slightly bent.

Next, you lie your back on the ground with your hands by your side and slowly raise your hips.

As you lift your hips you will feel each section of your spine lifting off the floor which helps to give it a deep stretch.

Full Bridge

While you won’t see this variation too often in pilates, it is still a common variation in many other sports and can help to stretch all the muscles in your body.

First, you lie on the ground with your feet close to the base of your spine. Then you reach your hands over to the ground above your shoulders. Your fingers should be pointed to your feet.

Then, you slowly push your hips off the ground with your feet and hands until your body forms a full arch. This position stretches your legs, shoulders, and the whole front of your body.

The full bridge is more advanced than some of the other variations on this list so it should only be attempted once you have confidence in your abilities to perform it safely.


This move can help to strengthen your core, which is needed for everyday tasks like lifting objects off the floor, standing up from a chair, and even walking. 

It also helps to use the muscles in your lower back without straining them, which is why it is beneficial for those who have mild back issues.

Having a flexible spine and back can help to reduce the chance of spinal injuries in the future. Having strong spinal muscles also reduced the risk of a slipped disc.

If you have poor posture that forces you to slump over, this exercise can help your hips, spine, and shoulders align easier which will assist in a better posture.

Final Thoughts

You should avoid this move if you have severe neck issues as the lifting of your hips can put pressure on your neck if you go too high.

If you are feeling any increased levels of pain when performing this exercise then you should stop and consult your doctor.

For those looking for back relief or a way to strengthen their abs, glutes, and hamstring muscles, the basic back bridge is an excellent exercise to add to your daily routine.

It is relatively easy to perform and requires little to no external equipment, making it perfect for beginners.