The bird dog extension is one of those awkward but effective exercises that most people don’t necessarily think to try out until they’ve seen it. The bird dog extension is a powerful pose which increases core strength, elongates the spine, helps with balance and flexibility, as well as strengthening the back. If you’ve never performed this exercise, it’s definitely worth a try!
Muscles Targeted: The muscles targeted in the bird dog extension include the abdominal muscles of your core along with the muscles in your back and shoulders. This pose helps to strengthen your entire torso and core along with targeting your glutes, hamstrings and arms.
Exercise Instructions: Place a mat or towel on the ground to provide extra padding and comfort to your knees. Start by lifting up your left leg and stretching it out while simultaneously lifting your right arm and stretching it out also. Make sure to keep your back flat with your leg and arm level with the rest of your upper body. If you perform this exercise in front of a mirror, you will be able to monitor your form in order to make sure your upper body is level. Based on your level of fitness, hold this position anywhere from 15 seconds (beginners) up to 3 minutes (advanced) and then switch to your opposite leg and arm.
Things To Avoid: While performing the bird dog extension, make sure to avoid slouching your shoulders and don’t hunch or bow your back. Your back should always be flat, straight and level with your leg and arm that is in suspension for the best results. Also, remember to focus on your breathing while you’re performing this exercise and avoid holding your breath for too long. Follow a smooth breathing pattern throughout the entire time you’re holding the pose.
Reps and Sets: Beginners should start off doing the bird dog extension with 15-30 second poses, alternating leg and arm suspensions with total sets of 2-3. Doing this will help you adjust to balancing your body while developing core strength. For those who have advanced from the beginning stages, you can proceed in doing 30-60 seconds bird dog extension poses, alternating leg and arm suspensions with sets of 3-5. For advanced individuals who really want to challenge their bodies, the bird dog extension pose can be performed for 1-3 minutes for 5-7 sets. The endurance it will take to balance your body and sustain core body strength to maintain this pose for multiple minutes is intense! Your core muscles of your abs, back and trunk along with your legs and arms will definitely feel the burn and get stronger after a few weeks of doing this excellent core exercise.
Other Exercises To Use: The bird dog extension is a great way to strengthen your core, but if you’re looking for other effective exercises that target this area and you want to mix up your workouts, then try out the Russian twists, starfish crunch and squirm crunch. If you’re advanced, you can include 2-3 different exercises into your workout to really hit all the important muscles of your core!