How to Do the Bird Dog Exercise: Techniques, Benefits, Variations

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Also known as: Quadruped

Target: Abdomen, lower back, glutes and thighs

Necessary equipment: Exercise mat or other cushion surface

Level: Intermediate

Dog dogs are a bodyweight exercise to strengthen the core — more specifically, the abs, lower back, buttocks, and thighs. Since it requires no equipment other than a mat, it can easily be integrated into almost any core strength training routine.

How to do the bird dog exercise

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Find a position with enough space to extend the arms and legs at the same time. Kneel on an exercise mat or other cushioned surface with your knees hip-width apart and your hands firmly planted on the ground, about shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your belly.

  1. Straighten one arm forward and extend the opposite leg back, forming a straight line from your extended hand to your extended foot. Keep your hips perpendicular to the ground. If your low back starts to sag, just raise your legs as high as you can while keeping your back straight.
  2. Hold for a few seconds, then return to your hands and knees. Keep your abs active throughout the entire exercise and work to minimize any extra movement in your hips during the weight shift.
  3. Switch to the other side.
  4. Aim to complete five reps for each side, or a total of 10 reps. Add additional sets of 10 for up to three sets of 10. As a variation, you can do a set of 10 dogs on one side, then switch to the other.

If you’re having a hard time getting into good shape, practice this move first by lifting the opposite hand and knee just an inch or two off the floor while balancing on the other side and knee and keeping your center of gravity. friend. When you feel steady, you’re ready to move into full motion.

Benefits of bird exercises for dogs

The main target of the bird dog is the erect spinal muscles. This long back muscle extends the length of the spine from the skull, neck, and ribs to the vertebrae and sacrum of the hips. It is responsible for lengthening, flexing and rotating the spine.

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Two abs are particularly challenged by bird dog exercises: the abs and obliques. This move also involves the gluteus maximus of the glutes (when raising the legs) and the trapezius of the upper back and the deltoids of the shoulders (when raising the arms).

Other muscles are involved in stabilizing the movement. Including:

  • The hamstrings on the back of the thigh
  • Other gluteal muscles (medius and minimus)
  • The piriformis and the outer flap of the hip
  • Chest muscles and pectoral muscles
  • The triceps of the upper arm

Both athletic trainers and physical therapists use canine exercises with their clients. It is great for building low back function, as it engages both back muscles and muscles at the same time.

It can relieve low back pain and is considered a safe exercise during recovery from a back injury. A strong core and good spinal stability can help when performing everyday tasks that involve bending and twisting.

Other variations of the bird dog

You can do dog exercise in a variety of ways based on your fitness level and goals.

No arm extensions

If you have difficulty with double arm and leg movement, start by extending only one leg at a time and not extending the arms. Once you can do this move with good form and stability, proceed to extend the opposite arm at the same time as the leg.


Instead of returning your hands and knees to the ground between each set, bend your elbows and bring your opponent’s knees forward until they touch under the body. This mid-exercise touch increases the tension placed on your body as you try to balance.

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Bird Dog on the couch

You can use a weight bench for an extra challenge. Kneel on the bench with your legs hanging off your head, eliminating your shins’ contribution to your stability.

Bird Dog on an exercise ball

Place an exercise ball under your hips to do the move with the dog. You won’t be able to keep your knees on the ground, so you’re balancing on the toes of your feet instead, which creates an even more stability challenge.

Bird Dog from push-up position

Instead of hitting your knees on the ground, get into a push-up position and balance on your toes and hands. This variation is similar to doing the bird dog on the exercise ball but even more difficult.

Dog on one side bird

This is an advanced variation of the bird dog that you should only do if you have mastered the regular exercises. To do this, simultaneously extend your arms and legs on the same side of your body.

Common mistake

Avoid these mistakes to stay fit and reduce your risk of injury.

Sag’s chest

Watch your upper body when doing the bird dog exercise or any variation of it. If your chest sags, your shoulders will be too close to your ears.

Excessive curvature of the spine

It is important that your back does not arch excessively during the movement. Instead, try to keep your torso straight and your spine in a neutral position.

To check if you have proper form, have someone place an empty plastic cup on your lower back. If it falls off, continue to stretch one leg or one arm at a time.

Safety and Precautions

You should not do the bird dog if you have shoulder pain. If you’ve ever had a back injury, ask your healthcare professional or physical therapist when this exercise might be beneficial. Stop doing it if you feel pain in your shoulder, back or hip.

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Create your own birding exercise by combining this and similar exercises into one of these popular exercises:

frequently asked Questions

  • Is exercise dog a yoga pose?

    Yes, variations of the bird dog exercise are used in some yoga exercises. The pose is called dandayamana bharmanasana or balance table position. This is a core stabilizing pose that can be a beneficial part of your yoga practice. Try to stabilize your body in an extended position and hold there for a breath before switching sides.

  • Where did the name of the dog exercise come from?

    If you observe a dog trained to hunt or retrieve birds (called bird dogs), such as spaniels, pointers, and retrievers, you will notice that they will hold their four legs in a similar fashion. like this exercise when they pick up the scent of their prey. When they pose with one front and back foot up at the same time, they are facing the direction of the scent.

  • What kind of exercise does the bird dog belong to?

    Bird dog is a bodyweight exercise that works the muscles involved in core stability. It also works the muscles that make up the glutes. People with back pain often benefit from bird dog exercises.

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