In this mini series we explore simple ways to improve performance by exploring symmetry. In this instance we are looking at the single leg bridge. This simple test and conditioning drill can help highlight asymmetry and potentially reduce the potential for injuries across the spectrum of ages and abilities.


The single-leg heel bridge exercise can be used to improve coordination and the strength of your posterior chain, primarily, the Glute and Hamstring muscles. Muscle strengthening and coordination improves force production and muscular endurance, which may make our bodies more resistant to some types of injury. Testing one limb against the other can offer insight into asymmetry or highlight relative weakness which may contribute to current or future injuries and if addressed offer potential performance gains.  


Movement such as running, jumping and changing direction require propulsion and produce high ground reaction forces. Exercises such as the single-leg bridge, when repeated consistently, can increase the ability to produce and absorb with these forces. 


Strength training improves the capacity and endurance of the muscle and tendons - in this case, the muscles involved in producing hip extension. Over time with consistency, and sufficient loading, training can affect the size and capacity of these muscles, including fascicle length and the overall muscle architecture enabling greater force production and the ability to repeatedly produce this force. The single leg bridge can be simply regressed to a double leg version,  progressed by adding weight or a resistance band or by adjusting other variables like speed and volume. 


Single-leg bridges are simple to test and use as a conditioning drill. They work well with people of all ages and don’t require any specialist equipment. We recommend the use of a metronome to move in time with, increasing reliability and repeatability of the test. How much and how often depends on a number of other factors (such as strength level, recovery status, other training load, prior history) but we suggest aiming for somewhere around 2-3x per week, completing 3-5 sets and working towards fatigue (2-3 reps in reserve). This can be incorporated into warm ups or key moments in your day like a morning routine, or can be added to other training sessions for time efficiency.  Of course, you can adjust the volume and intensity as necessary. With this in mind, it can be really useful to seek advice from a medical or health and fitness professional such as a Physiotherapist, in fact we highly recommend this in the presence of injury - PM us as we probably know one in your area! 

It's important to note that injury, and injury prevention, are multifactorial and complex. Single-leg bridges can be a useful test and tool and should be used in conjunction with other strength and conditioning drills with other factors such as appropriate training, nutrition and recovery playing hugely important roles.