1. Health
Paige Waehner

Exercise of the Week - Bird Dog

By June 2, 2009

Follow me on:

When you work your abs, how do you choose your exercises? If you're like a lot of us, you look for the most challenging exercises - those feel-the-burn moves (like the side bridge or ball pikes). Challenging the abs is important, but there are other great moves that engage the core and stabilizer muscles with a lower intensity, which allows you to concentrate on your form with more focus and energy.

One such exercise is the bird dog, a move helps you engage the deep abdominal muscles (the transverse abdominis) as well as your stabilizers to keep from tipping over. I like this exercise because anyone can try it, no matter what their fitness level is. There's a definite balance challenge the first time around, so you may want to practice by lifting one arm at a time, then one leg at a time and then progressing to lifting the opposite arm and leg.

This is a great exercise for beginners who are just getting to know their abs and need to learn how to brace the core for different movements. This is also a great move to warm up before going into more difficult exercises.

Do it right - Begin on hands and knees with the back straight and the abs pulled in. Lift the right arm up until it is level with the body and, at the same time, lift the left leg up and straighten it until it is parallel to the floor. Hold for several seconds, lower and repeat on the other side, this time lifting the left arm and right leg. Continue alternating sides for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps. Modify by lifting the arm and leg a few inches off the ground until you're able to balance.

June 6, 2009 at 4:21 pm
(1) Leo says:

There is one important factor that was not mentioned in the ‘Bird Dog’ article….Whenever doing ANY exercise, especially when working the ‘core’, hold those abs in. It stabilizes the spine, improves posture and form, reduces the chance of injury, and adds a ‘bonus’ work for the abdominals. I got into the habit of holding in my abs in my teens and have continued it well into my fifties. It takes focus and practice, and sometimes I do forget, but like everything else, it becomes a habit. Also remember that it is not possible to lose fat from the abdominals and get a flat belly by simply doing ‘spot exercises’. Aerobic exercise (bicycling/stepping/walking-jogging/etc.) combined with a healthful lower-calorie-than-expended diet will melt the fat away so that you will see that flatter belly, stronger back, more defined arms and legs, etc. Essentially, the ‘bird dog’ is a great exercise for the core. (P.S. I’ve been a Personal Fitness Trainer for eight years.)

June 8, 2009 at 5:15 pm
(2) Marina says:

Thanks so much Leo for the tips. I can’t wait to try it.

June 8, 2009 at 11:57 pm
(3) ghansa says:

kindly also mention the breath pattern…when to inhale and exhale..its very important factor in exercise.

July 1, 2009 at 7:04 pm
(4) Marky says:

When I am doing an Ab Exercise I only do
sit ups.
My only aim is to take away all the unwanted fats from my tummy.
But Anyways thanks for the tips….

July 22, 2009 at 4:28 am
(5) James says:

This is one of my favorite excercises along with marching hip bridges and side planks. For core activation. In the picture her hand should be externally rotated and thumb pointed up though:(

December 6, 2009 at 6:43 am
(6) Jerusalem Chiropractor says:

James says thumb up. I suggest he try it with thumb down (Pouring the beer can) and feel the spinal stabilisers really kick in. Same with the feet. Twist toes inward, feel the pari-spinal muscles.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.