Move of the week: bird dog

Move of the week: try holding a bird dog if you want to build serious core stability

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Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: bird dog. 

Pilates is all about having control over your body, and tapping into those deep core muscles that we aren’t able to target with sit-ups and crunches. But there’s no point in doing your hundreds or planks if you haven’t build up much core stability. 

Entre: bird dog. You might recognise this from a pilates or HIIT session; it looks simple but trust us, if it feels easy, you’re doing it wrong.

What is a bird dog?

A bird begins in an all-fours position, before lifting and extending one arm and the opposite leg. 

This exercise is great because:

It engages the abs: most of the lift comes from the muscles in your abdominals, helping to switch them on. 

It improves stability: the balancing pose works your total core, a skill you can transfer to another exercise.

It helps with shoulder mobility: by pushing down through the fingers, you can lift up through the shoulders – useful if you tend to slouch over your desk.

What muscles are worked in a bird dog?

This move mainly targets the muscles in the core, including: 

  • Rectus abdominals (the deep core) 
  • Erector spinae (back)
  • Hip flexes
  • Glutes

    How to do bird dog

    1. Come into an all fours position, with your hands underneath your shoulders, knees underneath your hips. Keep a neutral spine, so you’re in tabletop position with your back.

    2. Engage the core by drawing that belly button into the spine
    3. Begin by lifting and extending the opposite arm and leg. You want to be reaching out as long as you can and really pull from those limbs. The foot can either be flexed or pointed.
    4. When you reach full extension, hold and squeeze the glutes and core.
    5. Return back to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. 

      For more exercise tips, sign up to the Strong Women Training Club

      Images: Stylist

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      Miranda Larbi

      Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.

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