Bird Dog Exercise
Maybe the name is unfamiliar to you, but you have probably done it, or have seen others do it many times. Bird dog has been a popular exercise for your core and spine for over a decade.
How to do the bird dog exercise?
It looks simple, and it is. But don’t be fooled. While it is simple, it is not easy to do, and will require some effort. Be prepared to fall on your side as it requires good stability and control. If you find it hard to do, don’t give up. It will become easy faster than you think.
- Start with hands and knees position on the floor. Your knees should be directly under your hips, and hands under shoulders. Fingers should point forward.
- Contract your core and abdominal muscles. Keep the spine in a straight position, and avoid arching or sagging.
- Move the opposite arm and leg simultaneously (left arm and right leg, or right arm and left leg). If you are doing it for the first time, you can begin with lifting and extending your leg first. It should be parallel to the floor, and not above your hip.
- Raise and extend the opposite arm. It should be parallel to the floor, without tilting shoulders upward. Keep your head aligned with the spine. Do not move it up or down.
- Move your leg and arm back to the starting position.
- Change sides. It is important to keep the abdominal muscles contracted, maintain balance and stability.
Variations of the bird dog exercise
As your stability and alignment improve, this exercise will become easier. To maintain progress, you can tweak it a bit and make it difficult again. Here are some variations:
Bird dog on a bench
Performing bird dog on a bench will increase it’s difficulty. With decreased base, you will have less stability. A great benefit is that the bench is softer than the floor, so it will be a bit more comfortable to do, and will save your knees.
You want to place yourself near the back end of the bench. Your knees and hands are on the bench, but your feet should hang from it. Hold the side of the bench with your hands and perform the exercise in a same way as a regular bird dog.
Ipsilateral bird dog
This exercise is great if you really want to punish yourself. To be honest, it is probably the hardest variation of the bird dog. Here you want to move the leg and arm of the same side (left leg and arm, or right leg and arm). Do it slowly while keeping balance. Start with the leg first and than the arm.
Benefits of the bird dog exercise
This is a good exercise that uses core and lower back strength. Besides improving on your core and lower back, it has other benefits. Your balance will improve. It hits arm and shoulder blade muscles. It helps shape your glutes, and strengthen your hamstrings.