Bridge with Leg Extension Test – Are Your Glutes Contributing to Your Swing?
Glutes are the primary power generating muscle in the golf swing.
However, many golfers under-utilize their rear end allowing the hamstrings and lower back muscles to take over a lion share of the work.
Besides power generation, the glutes along with the deep core muscles stabilize pelvic movement. Again, in many golfers, other synergistic muscles pick-up the slack of weak glutes and help keep the pelvis in the required positions during the golf swing.
It’s nice that the hamstrings and lower back muscles help out, but there’s a significant loss of power when the glutes aren’t active or are in a weakened state.
How do you know if your glutes are under-performing?
The Bridge with Leg Extension Test evaluates glute activation and their ability to stabilize the pelvis and add power to your swing.
Eighth in a Series
This is the eighth post in a series of articles on mobility screens for golfers. To read other articles in the series, you will find links near the bottom of this post: Put the Horse in Front of the Cart and Get With the Fitness Program.
To receive notice when I publish new mobility screen articles, click the “Alert Me” button below and I will send you an e-mail.
Further down in this article there is also a free Mobility Screening Sheet that you can download and track your results as you go through the whole mobility screening process.
Objective of the Bridge with Leg Extension Test
The objective is to evaluate how well you can stabilize the pelvis, lumbar spine, and mid-core area of your body. It also will test if you’re activating your glutes to help stabilize the pelvic region.
The test works by laying on the floor and elevating the pelvis while reducing the supporting surface area of your body by raising your arms and lifting one foot. If you can keep your pelvis level and elevated for at least 10-seconds then there is a good reason to suspect your glutes are contributing power to your swing.
The glutes should be doing the majority of work needed to stabilize and keep your pelvis elevated. However, it’s possible for the hamstrings and lower back to be doing more than their fair share of the work. If you can tell your glutes are active (read this post about muscle activation) that’s good, then we only need to make sure you can stay stable for ten or more seconds.
If you can’t tell if your glutes are activated, there’s a simple check.
Give your supporting glute a squeeze.
If you can sink your fingers into the muscle tissue, then the glutes aren’t doing their job.
How to Perform the Bridge with Leg Extension Test
The procedure has a few steps, and there are quite a few checks, but it is possible to do the test by yourself. Having someone around to watch you during the test does make it easier, the person doesn’t need any prior knowledge as all they have to do is answer some questions you ask them during the test.
Having a dowel or golf club handy will also make it easier to see if you’re keeping your pelvis stable.
If you feel a cramp come on you, stop immediately. Circle “Yes” to cramped on the mobility screening sheet (see below).
- Lay on the floor – you can keep your shoes on if you want.
- Raise your knees and tuck your heels up close to your butt while keeping your feet flat on the ground.
- Place your palms together and raise your arms straight up in the air, so you can’t use them for support.
- Pushing with your glutes, lift your pelvis (hips) up off the floor so that your thighs, hips, and stomach form a straight line, in other words, don’t sag in the middle. This is the bridge position.
- A line drawn from your knee to your ankle should be vertical. Most people will now need to tuck your heels more under yourself to get into this position. Taller people, or those with long legs, will have a harder time getting into this position.
- Now pick one of your feet off the floor and extend it out. However, don’t lift the thigh higher than the supporting leg or allow it to go lower. Your stomach, hips, knee, and ankle should now be in a straight line.
- Here is the trick. You need to keep your hips level for at least 10-seconds. If you’re having trouble determining this, lower your body and put a golf club across your hip bones and get back into the elevated position. The ends of the golf club will exaggerate the movement of hips.
- If you waver, tilt, or sag then you circle “Yes” to weak glutes on your mobility screening sheet. You are testing the leg that is supporting the weight.
- At 10-seconds, use your hand and squeeze the glute supporting the weight. Is it activated?
- After 10-seconds, lower yourself and test the other leg. Circle “Yes” to normal glutes on the mobility screening sheet if you held elevated and stable for the duration.
Key points to ask yourself:
- Is my ankle under my knee?
- Are my thighs level and parallel during the test?
- Did I keep my hands together and over my body?
- Is my waist in-line with my leg and stomach?
- Did my pelvis stay stable and not tilt during the 10-second test?
If you answered yes to all of those questions, then you passed the Bridge with Leg Extension Test.
TMF Mobility Screening Sheet
You can download a copy of the TMF Mobility Screening Sheet by pressing the button below and entering your name and e-mail. I will deliver it to your inbox.
Below is a video of the Bridge with Leg Extension Test. You’ll notice some notation where I call it the Bridge w/ Extension Test, this is only to shorten the text for the slide.
On the Screening Sheet
Once you’ve downloaded the TMF Mobility Screening Sheet, go to the 8th test, Bridge w/ Extension, and circle “Yes” for results you observed. Notice the test has a right and left column.
During the test, the leg on the floor is the test leg.
Circle “Yes” next to normal glute if your pelvis stayed level, it didn’t waver, tilt, or hips didn’t sag. Circle “yes” to weak glute if you wavered or the pelvis sagged. If you cramped, then circle “yes” for the leg that cramped.
If you have weak glutes and couldn’t keep your hips level the best corrective exercise is practice.
Do a normal Bridge to start. Keep both feet on the floor and your arms spread out on the ground for stability. Raise your pelvis as high as you can go and hold it for as long as you can.
The progression to that exercise is to lift your arms off the floor and do a normal bridge. Then advance to arms back on the floor while extending one leg (be sure to exercise both legs), and finally practice the Bridge with Leg Extension Test until you can master it for 10-seconds.
I find that putting my heels up on a stability ball makes it easier to make sure I use the glutes to lift by hips. Use the same progression on the stability ball, arms down with both legs, followed by arms up and both legs down. When you can do those well, put the arms down and use one leg and keep advancing until you can have both arms over your head and do a one-leg bridge on the stability ball.
There you have the Bridge with Extension Test.
In the next couple of mobility screening posts, we start rotation tests. Starting with lower body rotation with the Seated Trunk Rotation and Lower Quarter Rotation tests.
Click the Alert Me button below, and I will send you an e-mail when I publish the next mobility screening article.
The this is the eighth of sixteen screens.
To find links to the other mobility screens go to Put the Horse in Front of the Cart and Get With the Fitness Program, they’re listed near the bottom of the post.
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Copyright: warrengoldswain / 123RF Stock Photo
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