Let me start by saying that if you drop your hips during this exercise, it will be way less effective. More on that later, but first let’s talk about the setup.
One rule of biomechanics is that the longer the lever, the more difficult the exercise. A great example of this is that pushups from your toes (long lever) are harder than pushups from your knees (short lever). The same rule applies to this exercise which can help you determine what part of your leg or foot should go on the ball. To reduce the difficulty, make the lever shorter by placing your calves on the ball. This is also helpful for people who are tall as shown in this video. For a more challenging version or if you are a shorter person, place your heels on the ball to make the lever as long as possible.
Once you’ve placed your calves or heels on the ball, relax and widen in your chest to reduce any tension and reach your arms long toward the ball to get rid of any tension sitting on top of your shoulders and in your neck. Pull your abs in toward your spine. This helps to ensure the glutes can’t drive your hips too high and unnecessarily engage your low back. Holding your abs will also help keep you stable as you reduce your contact with the ground once you’re in the bridge position.
Now you’re ready to bridge. Engage your glutes to lift your hips off of the floor and in line with your shoulders, knees and ankles. Your knees will also straighten as you lift into this bridge. This is your start and end position for each hamstring curl.
Bend your knees to curl your heels toward your seat, continually lift your hips as you curl so that your hips stay in line with your shoulders and knees. Keep you abs pulled in and regardless of how far you bend your knees to curl your heels and the bar underneath you, keep the hips up. Continue to keep the hips lifted and in line as you straighten the knees to return to the straight-leg bridge position. Only when you have finished all of your reps, hinge at the hips to come back down to the mat.
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Addie Kelzer is a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. She believes that by making fitness and good food practical, her clients will hold the power to positively change their health and the health of those closest to them.