Bird Dogs are a great warm-up movement and glute activator.
In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to properly do Bird Dogs, why you should incorporate them in your training and give you a few alternatives.
How To Do Bird Dogs
- Start on the ground, on your hands and knees.
- Simultaneously lift one arm and the opposite leg.
- Lift the arm straight out in front of the body, palm down. It should finish parallel to (or slightly higher than) the torso.
- Lift the leg straight out below the body, squeezing the glute at the top. It should finish parallel to (or slightly higher than) the torso.
- There should now be a (relatively) straight line through the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder and hand.
- Reset back to the starting position and then repeat the movement on the other side.
- Continue to alternate back and forth until all reps are completed.
Keep the eyes focused down with the head neutral throughout the movement. Do not try to look up as this will cause the back to overarch.
Bird Dog Benefits
Bird Dogs come with multiple benefits. First, they work as a great glute activator, isolating the glute on the hip extension portion of the movement. They strengthen the Erector Spinae muscles of the low back which are being challenged to extend the leg and stabilize the torso.
They’re also great as a shoulder mobility movement as well. Many athletes (and people in general) are very anteriorly dominant and any movement that forces the chest and shoulder open will have positive mobility benefits.
Finally, they also can benefit T-Spine mobility as well. By extending the lower and upper halves at the same time, you can improve mobility through the thoracic spine.
Bird Dog Variations
Bird Dog + Crunch
One Bird Dog variation is to combo the movement with a crunch. After extending the arm and the leg, instead of return to the starting position, bring the elbow and knee and the extended limbs together under the torso. This movement is made possible by flexing the Rectus Abdominis and can be a surprisingly challenging core exercise.
From a Pushup Position
Want to really ramp up the challenge of a Bird Dog? Try it from a pushup position.