To experience noticeable results, consistency and good form are very important. As you notice increases in strength, you can increase the level of difficulty.
Begin on the hands and knees with the fingers pointing forward. Place hands directly underneath the shoulders, and the knees underneath the hips.
Slowly raise one arm until it is parallel to the floor. Keep the arm straight. Next, slowly raise the opposite leg until it is parallel or nearly parallel, to the floor. Tighten the glutes and abs as you lift the leg and do your best to keep the hips from rotating outward. Try to keep both shoulders parallel to the floor throughout the movement.
This position would be held for several seconds or longer, depending on your ability to maintain balance. Slowly return to starting position and repeat with the other arm and leg.
Instead of lifting the arm and leg separately, move them simultaneously in a slow controlled manner.
Perform the exercise by lifting the same side arm and leg, one at a time. This is much more challenging and is not recommended for those who haven’t mastered the beginner version, or who don’t already have good balance and a strong core.
You can also try using a small to medium size stability ball when doing the Bird Dog. Here you would position your hips on top of the ball before moving the arm/leg. If using the ball, the leg that remains in contact with the floor will not be bent.
The Bird Dog will test the existing strength of stabilizing muscles, and so initially you may find yourself losing balance. To help ensure success, try to keep hips level, move in a slow and controlled manner and perform on a regular basis. Keeping the torso rigid will help prevent sagging or arching of the back.
This exercise can be especially helpful for those looking to improve posture, as well as for conditioning the low back. Because it does not place as much stress on the spinal column as some other low back exercises, it is considered a safe form of strengthening, however, it is still not appropriate for everyone, so check with your doctor if in doubt.
The Bird Dog can be performed every day or every other day, depending on goals and ability. Start with two or three repetitions to familiarize yourself with the technique, and then gradually increase the number of reps or length of time each rep is held.