One Arm Bridge, Twists and the Valdez

by Logan Christopher on April 30, 2013

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In my previous article I covered some advanced versions of the wrestler’s bridge exercise to build both more neck and spine strength, as well as dynamic flexibility.

Now its time to turn on the gymnastic bridge.

By itself the bridge requires a high degree of flexibility. The truth is when your flexibility is great, then holding the position isn’t too hard. It requires more strength when you don’t have the flexibility to do it, because you can’t quite get to lock out.

If you’re not there yet, keep at it. Make sure to read Convict Conditioning to build your bridge.

And what I want to cover here is an advanced variation not covered in that book, that takes your flexibility, and stability, to another level. Here is a short series of progressions you can do. The video shows each one and you can read more about them below.

One Arm Bridge Hold

Get into a gymnast bridge and lockout your arms. Shift your weight slightly to one side then raise up the other arm off the ground. Hold for time. If you can get a minute you’re doing great.

Work both sides equally. You can come down and rest between sets or shift back to two hands, then onto the other arm.

One Arm Bridge Twist

There are several versions of this move that just change it up slightly.

To start with get into you’re your one arm bridge. Rotate your torso towards that arm as you kick your opposite side leg over until you come to a position where you’re on all fours.

Note that your hand may need to twist on the ground as you turn.

After you get to all fours you can then rotate back.

Work to both sides. You’ll likely find one side is better than another. This is usually more because of flexibility than strength. Also notice that it requires an even greater degree of shoulder and wrist flexibility plus shoulder stability through an interesting plane of motion.

One Arm Bridge Twist from Sitting

Now we’re going to do the same thing starting from a sitting position. For description purposes I’ll describe this from the position of having the left hand on the ground.

Start with your left hand on the ground, pointing away from your body. Your left leg will be straight and your right leg bent and close to your body. Raise your hips up and onto that arm as you bridge over. Your hand has to do a 180 as you come into a bridge position. Once in position you can place your right hand on the ground.

Try coming up with the same or opposite arm back to a sitting position.

Valdez

This is a move from gymnastics that is usually reserved for women as they tend to have more flexibility. Still it can be worked up to, if you’re willing to put in the time.

This combines the previous exercise, the one arm bridge twist from sitting, with a kick over done in seamless fashion. In the beginning you may need to break it down into sequential steps and of course both should be solid before attempting to put them together. You actually begin kicking up with the leg even before your second arm touches the ground.

I’ve pulled this one off before, but not in many years. Without working on it recently, I haven’t quite got the flexibility and control required for it.

So if you’re ready for some more intense bridge work start working in this series. If you can do all this, just holding a bridge will never be a problem again.

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About Logan Christopher: Logan Christopher has been called a physical culture renaissance man as he is accomplished in a wide range of strength skills from kettlebell juggling, performing strongman stunts, and bodyweight exercises. He is the author of numerous books including Secrets of the Handstand and The Master Keys to Strength & Fitness. In addition, he’s spent the last several years going deep into mental training to find out what it takes to really excel and tactics that can help people instantly improve their exercises. You can find out more about all this at www.LegendaryStrength.com.

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  • Aaqib

    Logan, you continue to impress. 😀 Definitely gonna try to build up to a Valdez. Thanks a lot, a whole series of detailed progressions is the best guide when it comes to BW training. 🙂 Cheers,
    A happy 20 year-old. ^_^

  • Paul J Wade

    How many folks are bridging for the deep muscles?
    How many are twisting, or twisting as they bridge?
    Why do I see a million articles today on crunches and curls, and only ONE article like this?!
    The information in here is totally priceless, if athletes could see it.

    Phenomenal post–Logan, this is why you are the best at what you do. Thanks man.

    • RobbyTaylor

      Coach, I find bridging invaluable. I incorporate the stand to stand bridge in some of my workouts, and utilize the gecko bridge and neck plank in my warm ups. I also do a variation of the wrestler’s bridge where you “rest” on the back of your head rather than the top, sort of like a hip bridge only substantially harder. I discovered that variation on my own. Then I do the “easy” standard bridge and wrestler’s bridge for cool down. Overall I find the stand to stand bridge most rewarding, but the other variations are excellent on their own. My back feels like a million bucks, which is saying something since my spine used to come out of my hip girdle at a 27 degree tilt (rather than 0). But, I can’t attribute everything to bridging, since I do a lot of awesome exercises introduced to me by people like you and Al.

      • Awesome Robby. Isn’t it fun to play around with all different ways to bridge?

        • RobbyTaylor

          Definitely. I sometimes ponder what would be the best upper body exercise if you were to only do one. I used to think the muscle up, because it hits tons of muscles and the transition is no joke. But, I’m leaning more toward bridging now because, at the most basic level, fitness is about protecting your body from injury and ensuring functional health. Strength is simply a byproduct. Coach Wade really laid it out well in Convict Conditioning; the spine sits in an interesting paradigm of being the most vital part of the body whose protection we can control, yet most people spend most of their existence exacerbating the problem with poor posture in every activity from sitting to walking. Bridging can remedy the problem, but the most bewildering part about it is that, for most people, it would take very little time and effort to build up to a full bridge, relative to the amount of time it took for them to become so immobile in the first place.

          I was already able to do a full bridge when I started exercising last year (although I hadn’t attempted to do it with locked out knees until recently), yet I still had back pain, and I sometimes still do. It seems to me that, through advanced bridging, I am developing a level of proprioception of my spinal alignment that, in conjunction with strength gains in the lower back, is allowing me to overcome this limitation. Also, both handstand push ups and levers are becoming easier since I’ve been doing stand to stand bridges in my workouts. Which is awesome, because since STS bridges don’t tax the shoulders and arms too much, I can still do handstand push ups in the same workout.

    • Thanks Paul. I totally agree. And with all our work more and more people will be doing bridging exercises like these.

  • George Corso

    Very helpful and extensive article, I have been preaching to my clients the important of bridges and spine strength. The impact that it has on creating a better neural synchronization of the body. The glute strength and scapular control alone that you get from bridges is amazing. Thank you for a great article

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