Bird Dog is an exercise? Yes indeed!
Find out more about this unique ab exercise!
Looking for an effective ab exercise that can be done anywhere? Check out the Bird Dog Exercise! This is super safe movement that can be completed by just about anyone, anywhere! Especially effective for women that are experiencing diastasis recti after pregnancy or women that want to create more of an hourglass shape, bird dog exercise will help draw the ab muscles tighter together, effectively shrinking the core.
Additionally, the abdominal muscles are great ones to work when you are traveling or away from home. You don’t need a lot of equipment and can instead rely on your bodyweight to strengthen and tone them through movements like the bird dog.
As an online personal trainer and fitness coach for women, I am often asked how to do the bird dog movement. In this article, I take you step by step through this engaging movement and show you how to avoid strain on your lower back.
As you get stronger, work your way up to the more advanced movements like a Bird Dog Crunch. For those looking for an intense and challenging form of the ab exercise, the Bird Dog Plank will be difficult for even the most experienced exercisers. But, let’s start at the beginning and learn more about this exercise.
What is the Bird Dog Exercise? What type of exercise is Bird Dogs?
The bird dog exercise is a simple quadrupedal bodyweight exercise that will engage not just your core but also the lower back, glutes, quadriceps, and really all of the ab muscles! Because you do not need extra equipment to complete the bird dog exercise, this an abdominal movement that one that can be done at home, at the gym, or on the go and can be included as an important part of your ab strengthening exercises. I highly recommend including this exercise to my online training clients and to others that want to gain strength and balance while tightening and defining their whole body.
What Muscles Are Worked by the Bird Dog Exercise?
Working the rectus abdominis, erector spinae, and glutes, bird dog improves the stability and control of your body overall. A great movement for those that have back injuries and can be helpful with posture.
Bird Dog During Pregnancy
It is difficult to find ab movements that are safe to do throughout pregnancy. Bird Dog is one of the few abdominal movements that most all obstetric doctors recommend throughout pregnancy.
Bird Dog for Diastasis Recti Separation After Pregnancy
Diastasis Recti is a phenomenon that occurs when the central abdominal muscle running vertically down the abs, the rectus abdominus muscle, separates causing a depression in the muscles. Strain during pregnancy can be a contributing factor in the depth of this separation which can cause pain in the low back and pelvic instability. The separation can make a woman’s belly stick out or bulge months or years postpartum. When trying to correct Diastsis Recti, you want to avoid core movements that ‘push’ your belly outward and instead opt for ones that draw the abs inward. With the Bird Dog Exercise, you can begin to draw the ab muscle back together over time correcting the separation. Bird Dog is a safe and easy exercise to include while pregnant and in the postpartum period.
How do you do the Bird Dog Exercise?
– Begin on the floor in a spot that has enough room for to you reach fully out in front of you and behind. I prefer to have a mat or soft surface to kneel on.
– Go down to your hands and knees, keeping your wrists directly under your shoulders and your hips right over your knees. Keep your knees about the same width as your hips and hands should also be shoulder width apart.
– Contract your core muscles as you extend one foot straight back slowly. Extend the opposite arm out straight in front with the thumb facing upward. Hold this position for several seconds as you engage your core and glute muscles.
– Return your hand and knee back to the ground before extending on the other side.
**Caution: Be sure to keep your lower back flat and avoid excessive arching or rounding. Keep your core tight throughout the Bird Dog Movement
How many of the Bird Dog Exercise should I do?
Depending on your experience level, start by completing 5 reps on each side for a total of 10 several times per week. As you get stronger, you can increase both the length of time you hold the bird dog and the repetitions that you do.
Bird Dog Crunch | Variations of the Bird Dog Exercise
Like a regular bird dog exercise, the bird dog crunch begins on all fours with your hands and knees on the ground. To further engage your abdominal muscles though, with the bird dog crunch, you draw your knee and opposite elbow inward to touch just below your stomach, emphasizing the contraction of the rectus abdominis muscles. Creating a strong mind-muscle connection and really contracting your ab muscles makes the bird dog crunch a really effective variation of the bird dog exercise.
Bird Dog Plank or Bird Dog From Push-Up Position
For advanced trainers, take the bird dog to a full plank instead of resting your knees on the floor. The balance needed for a bird dog plank is tough as it will engage more of your core than the regular form of the exercise. For a bird dog plank, begin in a push up or plank position with feet about hips width apart and hands directly under your shoulders. While keeping the core tight, extend one arm out front for the bird dog plank. At the same time, lift and extend the opposite leg back behind you. Hold the bird dog plank for 2-3 seconds before returning your hand and foot to the ground. From there, you can alternate up with the other arm and leg to complete one full rep of a bird dog plank. The longer you hold the arm and leg extended, the more challenging your bird dog plank will be.
Why is it called a Bird Dog Exercise?
This exercise name derives from the position that hunting dogs take when hunting for prey. Through stopping in their tracks and pointing their muzzle in the direction of the prey, the dog alerts the hunter to where the game will be hiding. These are traditionally bird hunting dogs.