Gymnastics - Back Bend to Bridge

Back Bend to Bridge - Gymnastics

In this lesson you will learn how to bend back into a bridge from a standing position. You will need this exercise if you want to learn the back walkover. Sometimes being able to bend back into a bridge is also useful for those who want to learn the gymnastic back handspring. Before you try this, you should stretch your bridge on the floor and also stretch your shoulders and your upper back muscles. Find more gymnastics exercises at artistic gymnastics main.


  • Stand upright and extend your arms over-head. The distance between finger tips and floor has to be as large as possible. Keep your elbows and your knees extended throughout the entire exercise. Don't hollow your back at the beginning and look straight forward (contract your abdominals slightly) and never elevate your heels. When you bend back, your head and your arms should move as one unit. Your ears and your shoulders stick together. Start with your arms, your upper body and your legs in a perfect straight & vertical line.
  • And this is what most people don't know: Before you start bending back, you have to push your hips forward while keeping your hands as high as possible. A lot of gymnastics newbies bend their knees at this point and swing the arms. THAT'S WRONG !!! You have to keep your knees and your elbows fully extended and push your hips forward at the beginning. Don't strike out with your arms. The hands must never be in front of hip level. Initiate the back bend without any fast movements and if you are afraid of trying it like this, ask somebody to spot you. So again, your feet and your hands stay in a vertical line, as you push your hips forward. BTW, this stretches your upper thighs and your lower abdominals.
  • Keep your hips in front of your feet and start bending backwards without bending your knees or your elbows. Don't forget that your head and your arms have to move as one unit. Move slowly! Abrupt movements are strictly forbidden. From where your arms are horizontal, you should be able to stand back up without difficulties. If you can't, you aren't pushing your hips forward enough. If your bridge is very flexible, you can even stand back up when your hands touch the floor. Note: Shoulder flexibility is more important than back & abdominal flexibility. And don't elevate your heels!
  • Bend your hands so that your fingers point towards your heels and plant your hands slowly. If your bridge is not flexible enough to do this slowly, ask a friend to spot you and practice this with a pile of mats or a soft mattress behind you. The higher the pile of mats, the easier.
  • Once your hands are down, check how extended your knees and your elbows are and if your heels are still on the floor. Then extend your knees even more to intensify the shoulder stretch. Hold this position for a few seconds.


  • Stretch your shoulders, your legs and your abdominals.
  • Learn how to go from a gymnastic handstand into a bridge first.
  • Practice this with mats first.
  • Ask a friend a training partner or your gymnastics coach to spot you at the beginning.
  • After learning how to bend back into a bridge, you can learn the back walkover.