Trainer Tip Tuesday: Bird Dog

Ready to strengthen you lower back and challenge your balance?  Introducing the Bird Dog.

The Bird Dog increases core strength in both your abs and lower back.  It also improves stability and increases kinesthetic awareness (where your body is in time and space).  It is super easy to do anywhere – and I will give you a few different versions to really challenge you!

If you’ve never done it before, the first few reps make seem awkward and difficult to balance, but once you get the form down, you will LOVE it …. Or at least add it to your enjoyout because it is good for you!

Ready?

Take a deep breath and smile.  Start with on your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips, while keeping your head, neck, and back straight

As you inhale (and smile) raise your right arm and reach it forward until it’s in line with your torso.  At the same time, kick your left leg backwards until it’s straight and in line with your torso.  Hold for 3 – 5 seconds.  Keep smiling.

As you exhale, slowly bring your arm and leg back to the ground.  (Are you still smiling?)  Inhale and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

Awesome!  You have done one rep.  Now continue with 10 more reps.

A few tips before giving you two more advanced options.  For the basic bird dog, start out with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and knees under your hips, forming a box with 90 degree angles. Even in the resting position, you should try to tighten your core, while keeping your shoulders down and back away from your ears (they want to drift upwards). At the top position, keep your arm and leg in line and be sure not to raise your head upward. Instead, keep your head in a neutral position to minimize pressure on your neck.

Alternative #1

This exercise is similar to the basic bird dog, but instead of alternating arms and legs, you will complete the exercise with one leg/arm, then repeat with the other side. In addition, as you can see from the photo below, you are going to crunch your elbow and your knee so that they meet underneath your body. If you have tight hips, or lack upper back flexibility, you may not be able to touch your elbow to your knee.   Don’t forget to keep smiling!

Alternative #2
The most challenging variation of all is completing the bird dog without using your knees, or elbows to help you balance your body. This variation takes a lot of core strength and even more importantly stabilization. Starting out in the push up position, you extend your right arm and left leg simultaneously, while keeping your hips steady so they don’t tip to one side or the other.  Again – breathe and smile!

Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or someone at the beginning on being active the Bird Dog is great addition to improve your low-back function and spinal health.

Move your body, put good things in and ENJOY!

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