It’s one thing to simply do an exercise. It’s another thing entirely to do an exercise in a fashion in which it’s stored into your body’s neuromuscular system in a positive, relaxed fashion. This allows for your body to naturally embrace certain motor patterns openly within your sport and during you day.
For example, in the morning after I’ve done my extension priming exercise, bird dog core stabilizer, and side plank series, I do a basic bridge exercise to engage the back half of my body. Not only do I perform the exercise, I do it in a fashion where I’m controlling my breath. I’m doing so in a relaxed fashion.
- Rest feet with toes pointing into wall
- Knees stacked over ankles and feet
- Relaxed arms at sides
- Pre-engage glutes by visualizing squeezing a quarter between your glutes
- Once you feel a solid tension from this starting position, extend hips upward by squeezing glutes and stomping through all four corners of your feet
- Specifically focus on pulling the pinky toe side of you foot upwards to engage your shin musculature, which also helps engage the obliques and lateral musculature of the torso
- Push the big toe and heel downwards into the ground aiming to keep a flat, neutral foot
- Hold position in relaxed manner for at least 30 seconds
- Follow breath protocol below
Relaxed Breathing vs. Panicked Breathing
If you do anything with a rushed and panicked breath, your body will consider that posture as something not welcoming. It will see it as something it doesn’t want to do and will approach that posture with fear.
But if you can take at least 6 breaths in a position (long and drawn-out breaths!) aiming for a five-second inhale and five-second exhale, you will store this motor pattern in your body. It will crave to position itself this way!
So in the case of the bridge, you will store the glute engagement and hip extension in your neuromuscular system. And by doing this early in the day, your body will be more prone to move in a more extended posture (necessary for optimum living and sport performance). This opens the body up from depressed forward flexion and allows it to express its vitality and performance capabilities.
Importance of Glute Engagement and Hip Extension in BJJ
The bridge is a fundamental BJJ movement we can all remember in the warmups of our first class. It’s prevalent as an escape from bottom side control and mount mainly, but this motor pattern is necessary in order to keep controlling pinning pressure from the top.
The more this becomes a second nature neuromuscular engagement the more it will find its way into our life and performance. It’ll allow us to stand upright in a vital, confident posture. It’ll also allow us to exert control of our bodies and ultimately of our opponents on the mats.
Final Considerations on the Bridge
Early in the day after a night of sleep, our bodies are receptive to the inputs we give it in the morning. I advocate following the morning warmup order I listed in the second paragraph of this article, with this exercise becoming a part of it. We must choose wisely as performance athletes and people looking to live in a vital and expressive fashion.
Apply this on all days — not just your training days — and feel yourself begin to move in a more confident fashion.
It’s 30 seconds of maximal contraction! Do it every day, multiple times per day by greasing the groove. You won’t feel worse, as this is a fundamental movement pattern as a human. Let me know how layering this into your day benefits you!
I cover more performance training tidbits at mobillitytraining.com that will help you prepare, recover, and perform better on the mats!