If there's one thing that all fitness enthusiasts agree on, core strengthening exercises are crucial to a well-rounded workout routine. The bird dog is an excellent way to work your core muscles, and today we'll show you how to do it properly.
So, what exactly is a bird dog exercise? It is a simple core exercise that can help enhance stability, promote neutral spinal alignment, and reduce low back pain. This exercise can target your core, hips, and back muscles as it uses your entire body. Additionally, it helps improve posture and range of motion.
And the best thing is it is appropriate for people of all fitness levels, including older persons. There’s lots more to this core strengthening exercise, so keep reading!
How to Do the Bird Dog Exercise
It's better to have an exercise mat for this exercise. For added comfort, place a folded towel or flat cushion under your knees.
This is how you do it:
- Start in the tabletop posture on all fours.
- Put your hands and knees under your shoulders and hips, respectively.
- By contracting your abdominal muscles, keep your spine neutral.
- Converge the shoulder blades.
- Raise your right arm and left leg while keeping your shoulders and hips aligned with the floor.
- Extend the neck's back and tuck your chin into your chest to look down at the ground.
- Holding this position for a few seconds, lower yourself back to your starting position.
- Lift your left arm and right leg, then pause for a moment in that posture.
- Go back to the beginning place. This is one round.
You must use the proper techniques and appropriately align your body during the bird dog workout to ensure you're getting maximum benefits from it.
When performing this exercise for the first time, the following tips may seem overwhelming, so instead of trying to master all of these tips at once, try concentrating on a handful of them at a time:
- Maintain the hips level and try not to rotate the pelvis.
- Be careful of lifting your leg too high or letting your spine curve past its normal curve.
- Maintain a neutral spine and contract your abdominal muscles to stop your back from drooping.
- Keep your chest from lowering to the floor.
- Pull your shoulder blades down, away from your ears, and back.
- Keep your spine and the back of your neck in alignment.
- Move carefully and slowly.
- Keep your breathing even and smooth.
Benefits of the Bird Dog Exercise
Bird dog is an amazing exercise that engages and works different muscles, specifically the glutes, rectus abdominis, and erector spinae. These muscles enable the body's proper control, stability, and movement.
It's the perfect exercise for anyone with low back issues, including hypermobility. It can aid in the improvement of balance and posture.
To reap the full rewards of the bird dog, concentrate on moving your body as a whole during the exercise rather than concentrating on specific muscles or movements.
Since you learn how to move your extremities while stabilizing your low back and engaging your abdominals, many everyday and athletic activities are made easier and more mobile by doing bird dog exercises.
It is a versatile bodyweight workout you can perform anytime, anywhere. Adjusting it to match your expertise level, objectives, and physical requirements is also simple. Also, the exercise can be used as a recovery exercise after strength training or as part of your warm-up to prepare your core muscles to maintain stability.
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Different Variations of the Exercise
There are multiple variations of the bird dog exercise that you can perform to target various muscle groups. For example, you can lift your leg higher or lower to target different parts of your glutes and hamstrings.
You can also place your hand on an unstable surface, such as a stability ball, to further challenge your balance and core stability. However, the following are the most commonly tried variations.
Bird Dog Crunch
Here's the deal. The bird dog crunch is no joke. It is, without a doubt, the most challenging and the most effective crunches. If you're unfamiliar with the bird dog crunch, it involves assuming a plank position and extending one arm and the opposite leg.
On the other hand, the standard crunch is a relatively simple movement that primarily targets the rectus abdominis. Here is how to do it:
- Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Stack your wrists under the shoulders and your knees under the hips.
- Consider pressing your foot against the wall behind you while maintaining a flat back and keeping your hips level with the floor.
- Squeeze your abs and bring your left knee and right elbow together at the midpoint of your body.
- Turn the motion around and extend your arm and leg once again.
- Repeat with the other arm and leg.
Bird Dog Plank
The bird dog exercise can also be attempted in a plank position, sometimes called the bird dog plank. Try performing the exercise with just one extremity at a time if you find it difficult to lift your arm and leg simultaneously.
Assess your stability with an empty or full paper cup of water on your pelvis. Try not to let the cup drop or spill. Use your lower abs to balance your body if it spills or falls. You can also position a light bar or foam roller across them to ensure that your shoulders are parallel to the floor.
Use a low bench or stability ball for support as you perform this exercise to keep your pelvis stable and prevent your lower back from arching excessively. You can improve your endurance by performing more repetitions with fewer breaks between sets.
Weighted Bird Dog
As the name suggests, the weighted bird dog is the variant where you add more challenge to the exercise by grabbing a dumbbell in one hand. Here are the steps:
- Start in a tabletop position with a free weight in one hand or ankle weight on one ankle.
- Lets take for instance you have a dumbbell in your left hand. Extend your left arm and right leg simultaneously.
- Brace your core and keep your low back from extending too much.
- Hold this position for a set duration of time before slowly returning the limbs to the starting position.
- Complete for the set number of reps before switching sides.
Alternatives for the Exercise
There's nothing like a bird dog to get your butt in gear, or is there? If you're tired of this old standby, never fear. There are plenty of other exercises that can give you the same benefits.
Superman is a great way to work your core and back muscles while also stretching out all of those tight spots that you've been feeling. This exercise can be performed in yoga studios, boxing gyms, or boot camps - it'll leave everyone feeling strong!
- Lay down on the mat with your knees and arms parallel to the floor.
- Extend your arms above your head while lying down on your front and palms down (imagine you are flying like superman).
- Next, drive your hips into the ground while lifting your arms and legs off the ground.
- Squeeze the backs of your shoulders, the muscles in your upper and lower back your glutes, and lift your legs by tightening your hamstrings and calves to perform this movement. For the length of the exercise, maintain this posture.
- To give your back a lovely, even curve, try to raise your hands and feet off the floor to the same height. Do not elevate your legs too high, as this can strain your lower back.
Barbell deadlift, a strength workout, engages your hamstrings, glutes, and spinal erectors. They are an excellent, difficult exercise. When done correctly, it can efficiently target your buttocks, legs, lower back, lower torso, and upper legs.
- Keep your foot under the bar, sit down and grab the bar with a shoulder-width overhand or mixed grip.
- Begin with standing with your knees slightly bent and holding the barbell at hip height.
- Continually pull your shoulder blades in slightly.
- As you drop the bar, keep your arms straight and hinge at the hips.
- Maintain the modest bend in your knees that you had when you started.
The purpose of squats is to increase strength by using gravity as resistance. Your quadriceps, glutes, and core are worked during this workout, which also helps strengthen your legs. Squats can be more challenging by using weights that are either held by your sides, near your chest, or lying on your shoulders or back.
- Start the movement by sitting back, bending your legs, and pushing them to the sides.
- Keep your chest up and your head gazing forward at eye level. Your weight should be even across your midfoot, and your heels should keep in contact with the ground.
- Continue to descend until your thighs are parallel and your hips are level with your knees (or as low as your mobility will allow).
- Raise your arms straight in front of you to shoulder height simultaneously. This lessens the impact of your hips being seated back behind you.
- When you reach the bottom of the squat, extend your legs to the starting position.
Related Article: Quad Destroyer Workout Plan: 12 Sets of Squats Workout
The inverted row is also a strength training exercise that works the abs, back, and spinal erectors. It is a fantastic upper body movement that can help improve your posture as well.
- Hold the bar with a powerful overhand grip.
- Place the body under the bar with the thighs, shoulders, and spine straight.
- Pull your body up to the bar while maintaining a straight posture.
- Return until your shoulders are forward-bent and your arms are outstretched.
A burpee is the best exercise for targeting the same muscles as a bird dog. This dynamic movement works all of the body's major muscle groups quickly. They entail squats, pushups, and hops, and you can anticipate a big increase in heart rate while doing them.
- Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, crouch down, and place your hands on the ground below your shoulders.
- After that, bounce your feet behind you to straighten your legs, shifting your weight to your hands and shoulders.
- As you lower your upper body to the floor while performing a push-up with your chest in between your hands, bend your elbows.
- The bottom of the movement, which should coincide with the bottom of your pushup, is at this moment.
- Raise your upper body off the floor by pushing down with your hands from the bottom.
- Jump your legs underneath you at this point, landing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- As you stand up, shift your weight back onto your legs and perform the upward phase of a squat.
- Jump up and clap your hands as you stand up.
- Return to the ground and immediately begin your next burpee by kneeling and placing your hands back on the floor.
1. What benefits can we get from doing bird dog activity regularly?
There are many benefits to doing bird dog activity regularly, including improved flexibility, increased strength and coordination, and better overall body awareness.
By engaging in these exercises, you can also improve your balance and endurance, which will help you stay active and healthy. Additionally, doing bird dog activity regularly can help you manage stress more effectively, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve your overall mood and well-being.
Overall, there are many great reasons to incorporate bird dog activity into your regular fitness routine, so be sure to give it a try if you want to reap all its benefits!
2. How long should you hold a bird dog?
Some important considerations include the experience level of the bird dog, the type of training being performed, and the specific goals of the training session.
3. How should the back be positioned when performing a bird dog exercise?
When performing a bird dog exercise, it is important to position your back in a straight, neutral posture with your head and neck aligned. You should keep your core engaged throughout the movement, maintaining a steady rhythm as you extend one arm and the opposite leg out in front of your body.
4. What is another name for bird dog exercise?
The bird dog exercise is also known as the Quadruped exercise.
The Bottom Line
The bird dog exercise is a versatile and effective way to target the core. You can perform it at home without equipment, making it perfect for those who want to work out but don't have access to a gym.
The benefits of the bird dog exercise include increased stability, improved posture, and strengthened abdominal muscles. There are various variations and alternatives, so there are many options to do this exercise. If you're looking for the easiest way to improve your core strength, give the bird dog exercise a try!
- Calatayud, Joaquín, et al. “Tolerability and Muscle Activity of Core Muscle Exercises in Chronic Low-Back Pain.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 16, no. 19, Oct. 2019, p. 3509. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193509.
- Xiao, Jinzhuang, et al. “The Activity of Surface Electromyographic Signal of Selected Muscles during Classic Rehabilitation Exercise.” Rehabilitation Research and Practice, vol. 2016, 2016, p. 4796875. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/4796875.