Bird Dog Exercise: 10 Variations From Beginner to Advanced. (video & images)

Bird Dog Exercise: 10 Variations From Beginner to Advanced. (video & images)

Introducing the bird dog exercise, a move that works your core so well that it’s a favorite of both physical therapy and of multiple modes of exercise, including yoga and pilates.

What is the bird dog exercise?

It’s a classic core exercise that emphasizes core and lower back strength. However, it’s not just your core that gets worked. You’ll also improve:

  • Your balance and ability to stabilize
  • Your arm and shoulder blades muscles
  • Your glutes
  • Your hamstrings (the muscles at the back of your leg)

Yes, this exercise is going to be worth your time!

Today I’m going to show you 10 bird dog exercise variations that cover all levels – from complete beginner all the way to advanced.

For some this exercise may seem intimidating. I remember when I first tried my first classic bird dog exercise I was falling to the right and to the left. It took me a while to be able to do the move without swinging left to right.

For others the bird dog exercise might seem trivial. If that’s you, I dare you to try the pushup style or the elevated bird dog exercise variations. These are guaranteed to give a workout to even advanced exercisers.

Unlike the proper squat form video, I’m not only going to show you how to perform the bird dog exercise, I’m also making this into a quick “workout challenge.”

I’ve shot this bird dog progression in a workout style format, so hop on the mat and let’s do this bird dog tutorial/bird dog workout together. My question to you: Can you do all 10 variations? Where did you stop?

(Notice I’m also struggling with some of those!)

Let’s do it!

How to the bird dog exercise: 10 bird dog exercise variations and bird dog progression

1. Bird dog prep

In all fours position, slide one leg back. Bring back to original position and repeat for other leg.

bird dog exercise prep

2. Basic bird dog

In all fours position, slide one leg back while lifting opposite arm up parallel to your torso. Bring back to original position and repeat for other side.

basic bird dog exercise

3. Twisted bird dog

(I didn’t include this in the video but it’s a nice addition to the basic bird dog exercise.)

In all fours position, slide one leg around your other leg’s toes while lifting opposite arm up parallel to your torso. Bring back to original position and repeat for other side.

twisted bird dog exercise

4. Classic bird dog

In all fours position, lift opposite leg with opposite arm up parallel to your torso. Bring back to original position and repeat for other side.

classic bird dog exercise demonstration

Higher is not better!
Note that in this image I bring my leg slightly higher than my hips causing my lower back to have a slight curve. If you’re doing the bird dog exercise for rehab, then make sure that yes you lift your leg, but don’t let your toes pass the height of your hips.

(Review the neutral spine video to understand the difference between arched back, flat back and neutral spine!)

5. Elbow to knee bird dog

In all fours position, lift opposite leg with opposite arm up parallel to your torso. Then round your spine to bring opposite elbow to opposite knee. Make those two touch if possible. Bring back to original position and repeat for other side.

elbow to knee bird dog exercise variation

6. Head to knee bird dog

In all fours position, lift opposite leg with opposite arm up parallel to your torso. Then round your spine to bring your head as close to your knee. Make those two touch if possible. Bring back to original position and repeat for other side.

head to knee bird dog exercise variation

7. Basic elevated bird dog

In all fours position, take your knees wider than your hips. Then engage your abd to lift your knees off the floor, keeping them bent. Now slide one leg to the back. Bring back to original position and repeat for other side.

basic elevated bird dog exercise

8. Classic elevated bird dog

In all fours position, take your knees wider than your hips. Then engage your abs to lift your knees off the floor, keeping them bent. Find your balance. Now lift opposite leg with opposite arm up. Bring back to original position and repeat for other side.

classic elevated bird dog progression

9. Bird dog pushup style

In all fours position, take your knees wider than your hips and walk your hands a little bit forward. Now lift your knees up forming a plank pose, as if you were to do a pushup. Now find your balance. Gradually lift opposite leg with opposite arm up. Bring back to original position and repeat for other side.

bird dog exercise in wide pushup position

10. Standing bird dog

Stand straight with your feet together. Shift your weight to one leg while gradually sliding your other leg to the back. Now start turning your torso towards a parallel to the floor position, while taking your leg up and raising your opposite arm to extend the line formed by your body.

Gradually bring back to original standing position and repeat the standing bird dog for the other side.

standing bird dog exercise progression

 

And just so that you don’t forget – or if you wanted to pin on Pinterest, just sayin’, not putting any ideas in your head – here’s an overview of all 10 bird dog exercise variations.

bird dog exercise progression

So did you follow this bird dog exercise demonstration with me? If yes, how many variations did you try? Leave a comment and let me know.