How to: Do the Bird Dog

Bird Dog - Good

Bird Dog – Good

Name:  Bird Dog
Also known as: (if you know this by any other name, leave a comment below).
Main muscles used:  Bum.
Other muscles used:  Belly, sides,

Top tips:

  • Start on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips and your hands directly below your shoulders, and eyes looking directly down onto the floor.
  • Concentrate on keeping your “core” (back, chest and belly) tight and totally still.  Pretend they are like a statue.
  • Kick one leg (eg, your left leg) backwards, leading with the heel.  Try to get the upper part of your leg (thigh and hamstrings) as near horizontal as possible.  Do this by trying to squeeze your butt cheeks together as tight as possible.
  • At the same time, extend your opposite arm (eg, your right arm) forwards beyond your head.
  • Ideally, you should have a straight, horizontal line from your fingertips, through your shoulder, body, hips, knee and heel.
  • Hold this extended position for about 3-5 seconds (make sure you are breathing normally), then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side.
Bird Dog - Bad

Bird Dog – Bad

Common mistakes:

  • Letting your belly sag down in the middle.
  • This causes your hips to drop, chest to raise, your head to stick up and your spine gets in a horrible position.
  • Not raising your upper leg (thigh, hamstring) high enough.
  • Not using your butt muscles (by squeezing your butt cheeks together), but using your back muscles (by sagging your belly downwards).
  • Not moving in a smooth, controlled way, but “chucking” your limbs out.

Comments: The goal of this exercise is to be able to move your limbs in a controlled fashion, while maintaining good spinal stability.  You get good at it when:

“You control and move your body.  Not someone or something else does.”

Quality over quantity is the important rule for this exercise.  So don’t go and try to make it harder by strapping weights all over your body.  Because most people I have seen do this, just end up fudging it up.