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Pilates Bridge Workout



If you’re looking for a quick way to tone your glutes, quads, abs, inner- and outer-thighs, then the Pilates Bridge Workout is for you! Bridge exercises are an especially nice complement to any running or biking routine–when combined with intermittent stretching, this routine will build long, lean muscles. Running and biking can bulk up our leg muscles–not that this is necessarily bad–but alternating between running, yoga, and other aerobics like ballet barre will help us tone those muscles we didn’t know we had while giving our thighs and butt a good, healthy stretch.

Pilates Bridge Workout: first position

Pilates Bridge Workout: first position

Pilates Bridge Workout: first position

Pilates Bridge Workout: second position

Pilates Bridge Workout

First Position Bridge

Lie on your back. Arch your back and legs to come into a bridge.  Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed.  Squeeze your knees together. You want to focus your energy on your core, glues, and quads. Slowly lower your butt until it almost touches the mat, pause, then rise back up to your bridge. For a more advanced version, you may raise your heels and come onto demi-pointe. This will increase your range of motion and make the exercise more difficult (and more effective). Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.  Gently stretch your legs afterwards.

Pilates Bridge Workout: first position

First position bridge

Tones: abs, glutes, hamstrings, quads.

Butterfly Bridge

Begin in First Position Bridge–heels may be raised or flat on the mat.  From here, splay your legs like butterfly wings, pause, then return to starting position. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.  Gently stretch your legs afterwards.

Pilates Bridge Workout

Butterfly bridge

Tones: abs, glutes, hamstrings, quads, inner- and outer-thighs. 

Second Position Bridge

This exercise will repeat the movement from First Position Bridge only this time, your feet will be in “second position,” or at the edges of your mat. Heels may be raised or flat on the mat. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.  Gently stretch your legs afterwards.

Pilates Bridge Workout: second position

second position bridge

Tones: abs, glutes, hamstrings, quads.

Reverse Bridge

Turnover onto your belly.  Raise arms and legs at the same time.  While your arms are raised, imagine pinching an pencil between your shoulder blades. The range of motion will be small here.  The point is to focus on the subtle movements in your glutes and back. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps. Gently stretch your legs and back afterwards.

Pilates Bridge Workout

Reverse bridge

Tones: glutes, hamstrings, lower- and upper-back. 

Also see: Yoga Sequence for a Strong Core

Yoga for Balance and Flexibility

Yoga for Runners: Deep Stretches for Long Legs

Floor Exercises for a Sexy Lower Body

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Photos: Mary Hood

Mary Hood Luttrell

Mary Hood Luttrell

Beauty Editor at Peaceful Dumpling
Peaceful Dumpling Beauty Editor and creator of Bisou du Jour, Mary Hood Luttrell lives with her husband in Corpus Christi, Texas. Mary is a freelance writer and writing and blogging consultant. A lover of whole foods, Mary delights in learning new ways to prepare vegan dishes. Mary also enjoys reading and writing poetry, art journaling, running, and practicing yoga and ballet. Follow Mary on her blog Bisou du Jour, Instagram and Pinterest.
  • RevolutionsPerMind

    Awesome article! I’ve been really curious about pilates and this is a great intro. Thanks!

    • Thank you! I’m so glad you liked it 🙂

  • Hanorah Hurley

    THIS IS NOT A PILATES BRIDGE! This is a yoga bridge.

    In a proper pilates bridge your rib cage should be treated as if it’s made of a super heavy metal, your ribs should barely be off the mat, if at all. The whole objective of pilates is to create the oppositional force between your hips and your ribs. This is what strengthens the core.

    1. As if you’re quickly blowing out birthday candles, corset your ribs in and down and pull your navel to your spine

    2. Tilt your pelvis up and peel your spine off the floor

    3. Lift your hips up and press your knees forward – all while pulling your ribs down

    4. Using your hands to guide you, gently rest them on your ribs to adjust to make sure you’re not lifting from the shoulders. You can tilt your hips side-to-side, dropping one hip and then the next, as if you’re screwing your spine into your ribs. Keeping your hands on your ribs while doing this, you can feel if they are moving. If they are, pull your ribs in tighter and isolate the movement to your hips only.

    Remember, oppositional force. Hips pull up as ribs pull down. This will focus the exercise on your core. You will see a lot of people doing a “pilates” bridge with their ribs up, but they are doing it wrong.

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