The bird dog exercise has been popping up everywhere. You’ll find variations of it in HIIT, barre and yoga. But is this seemingly simple move effective? Here, we’ll cover everything you may be wondering about bird dogs (including how they got their bizarre name) plus suggestions for how to increase their intensity for max results.
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How do you do the bird dog exercise move?
You’ll start on all fours in a tabletop position with your knees aligned directly under your hips and your hands under your shoulders with a soft bend in your elbows, Morgan Bontz, Master Trainer at Physique 57 tells Lively. “Roll your shoulders back and down and engage your abdominals in a neutral spine, drawing your belly button into your back and maintaining the natural curve of your low spine,” she says. From there, raise your right arm and left leg, but try to keep your shoulders and hips square and your neck lengthened, gazing down at the floor. “Hold this position briefly then lower back down to the starting position. Do the same with the left arm and right leg and return to the starting position. That would be one set!” Bontz says, adding that you can do several reps.
Are bird dogs effective?
You may be wondering if bird dogs really work. We can’t say we blame you — after all, from afar, they look like a move a toddler with decent balance could master. But, according to Brontz, they do work! (Quite well actually.)
“I love the bird dog because it works on the body as a whole instead of only isolating specific areas. You will work your abdominals and glutes, control, stability, posture, and even the coordination between the two sides of your brain. The bird dog is also accessible to all experience levels and easier on the low back than traditional ab work,” Bontz says. They also work well to strengthen and stretch the back, and may improve balance and posture.
How do you progress from a bird dog?
Congrats! You’ve mastered the move, and it seems pretty easy most days … but now you’re probably wondering how to make a bird dog exercise more difficult. No fear, we’re here to take your bird dog to the next level.
“You can increase resistance by either holding a hand weight in the lifting arm or looping a resistance band around the extending foot or hand,” Bontz tells Lively. She adds that one of her favorite variations of bird dog is to bring the knee and elbow together after each extension rather than lowering back to all fours. “This will get the exercise even deeper into your abdominals,” says Bontz.
Why is it called a bird dog?
Yes, there is a reason for what seems like a very random name. “The move is thought to be named after the pointing position of hunting dogs, who stand lengthened with a front leg up and a back leg extended behind,” explains Bontz.
Bird dog workout
Bird dogs are stabilizing, so it’s smart to begin your workout with this gentle, effective move. You can try the following routine in your next workout.
- Bird Dog: 3 sets of 8-12reps on each side
- Plank: Hold a plank for 60 seconds.
- Alternating Lunges: 20 reps per side
- Squats: 3 sets of 10-15 reps