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How to Do a Gymnastic Backbend or Bridge from a Standing Position

The bridge is one of the fundamental skills of gymnastics. After you have mastered the bridge, the back bend, the back walk over, and the back handspring will follow. This article focuses specifically on bridges and backbends.

Back Walkover. Incorporates the back bend.

Back Walkover. Incorporates the back bend.

How to do a Bridge for Beginners

If you haven't done so, stretch out. See "Stretching and Warming Up."

  1. Begin in the Layout position: lying with your back against the floor, arms straight up by your ears, legs together and toes pointed.
  2. Bend you knees and place your feet flat on the ground.
  3. Bend your elbows and place your palms flat on the ground, alongside your ears. Your fingers should point towards your shoulders.
  4. Push against your palms and begin straightening your arms and legs. Lift your hips up to the sky and stretch through your shoulders.
  5. Ideally, your shoulders should come just over your hands, and your legs should stay together, and almost straight.

Stretching and Warm Up

Before attempting any physical activity, gymnastic or otherwise, always warm up your body and stretch to prevent injuries. In particular, when practicing bridge and backbend exercises, you must focus on warming up and stretching your

  • back,
  • wrists,
  • and shoulders.

Here are some stretches for back and wrists to add to your regular warm up routine:

  • Kneel in a table position with your fingers pointing forward. Start with you back in a flat, neutral position and then begin alternately arching your back up between your shoulder blades and down into a U.
  • Still in the table position with fingers pointing forward, rock front and back, just enough to feel a stretch in your wrists. Turn your hands so that your fingers point out to either side, and gently rock your weight side to side, just enough to feel the stretch. Repeat with fingers facing in towards each other. Next, flip your hands so the back of your hands are on the floor and your palms are facing up, slowly weight your hands and begin rocking forward and back. Only stretch to the point you feel some discomfort, never to where it is painful. Repeat with fingers pointing in each direction with hands flipped over.
  • Stand up and take your straight left arm across your body. Take the left arm with your right hand and gently apply pressure until you feel a stretch across the back of your arm and shoulder.
  • Roll back and forth in a tight ball, and push up to a bridge from the floor.

How to do a Backbend

Stand evenly on both feet and reach up to the sky. As you begin to bend backward, send your hips up and forward to counteract the weight of your upper body. Keep your core and arms strong as you make contact with the ground.

There are several ways to practice the backbend, without falling on your head:

  • Ask someone to spot you. A spotter can place his or her hand on your back and help guide you to the floor. The spotter can support some of your weight until you are able to complete the move independently.
  • Walk your hands down a wall. Any clear wall will work, but placing a mat against the wall is a good idea. Stand facing away from the wall, a few feet out. Lean back and let your hands connect with the wall, and then start walking your hands down the wall until they are on the ground.


Stephanie Giguere (author) from Worcester, MA on January 02, 2013:

Glad I could help! Good luck to your daughter and happy New Year to you as well!

Claudia Mitchell on January 02, 2013:

Perfect timing for this hub! My daughter has been trying to do this forever. Going to show her this. I can spot her, no way can I do the back bend though! Happy New Year!

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