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This latest challenge uses a specific exercise know as the bird-dog to help activate your core.

With many diseases such as Ataxia, Parkinson’s or Huntington’s, one may find it a challenge to maintain balance or stability. One of the keys to developing balance and stability is by doing exercises that engage the core muscles.

I sincerely hope you find this exercise as helpful as I do. It can be frustrating at first depending on where you’re strength/experience level. Don’t worry about that. If you have trouble with a normal bird-dog, try one of the regressions below.

Muscles Worked

The bird-dog is a great exercise because it works a range of muscles as opposed to just the core. Although the focus is on the core, several other muscles are involved which are engaged to varying degrees. If you don’t have a lot of time, rest assured the bird-dog will cover a lot of ground and is a great addition to a bodyweight workout.

The standard bird-dog works the following areas:

Anterior Deltoid (front shoulder)

Semispinalis Thoracis, Erector Spinae, Multifidus (muscles that stabilize the spine)

Rectus Abdominus, External Obliques, Internal Obliques (core; sides)

Gluteus Maximus (butt)

Pectoralis Major (chest)

Latissimus Dorsi, Quadratus Lumborum (mid-back, lower back)

Serratus Anterior (outside of the ribs, armpit area)

So as you can probably see, the bird-dog and its many variations would be important for you to consider adding to your routine.

Technique

The standard bird-dog goes like this:

  • SET-UP: Begin on all fours on a comfortable surface. For stability, make sure your hands line up directly under your shoulders and your knees track directly under your hips.
  • LIFT: Simultaneously lift the left arm and the right leg while keeping a neutral spinal curve. If you have poor balance or are trying this for the first time, you may tend to twist. Try to avoid this. If you are unable to do that, try one of the regressions below. Alternate sides.
  • REPETITIONS: When both arms and legs have been raised this counts as one repetition.

Bird-Dog Regressions

Regressing the bird-dog is fairly simple.

Regression 1 – Start on all fours. Lift your left arm. Alternate arms. Remember to keep your spine neutral without twisting or leaning to one side.

Regression 2 –  Start on all fours. Lift your left leg. Alternate legs. Remember to keep your spine neutral without twisting or leaning to one side.

Bird-Dog Progressions

If the standard bird-dog is a bit too easy for you, try these progressions:

Progression 1 – Start on all fours. Lift your left arm and your right leg. Bring your arm and leg in to touch your knee to your elbow. Alternate sides.

Progression 2 – Lie on a stability ball. Lift your left arm and your right leg. Alternate sides.

The Bird-Dog Challenge

If you don’t have a tabata interval timer, I suggest you get one.

If you have an Android device, use this one. I use it and it’s quite good.

Set your timer to 5 rounds of 30 seconds each with no rest between sets.

Set 1 – Do either the standard bird-dog or one of the progressions/regressions. Try and do as many repetitions as you can.

Set 2 – Bird-dog hold. If you chose the standard bird-dog, hold your left arm and right leg up for 30 seconds.

Set 3 – Same as Set 1

Set 4 – Bird-dog hold. If you chose the standard bird-dog, hold your right arm and left leg up for 30 seconds.

This would be one round. Rest for 30 seconds. Do the whole thing 2 more times for a total of 3 sets.

Total Time – 7.5 minutes.

 

Watch this video to see me run through 1 round of the exercise.

 


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