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bird dog
Image by Andreas von Scheele
October 14, 2022
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When it comes to stockpiling our favorite simple exercises, we're all about moves that work a lot of different muscles and have modifications to suit all skill levels. One of those moves? Standing bird dog.

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You may have completed a traditional bird dog (done on all fours) in a fitness class before, and this version incorporates extra factors like balance and weights for one super-efficient exercise. Here's how to do it, as demonstrated by personal trainer and holistic nutritionist BB Arrington, CPT.

How to do standing bird dog:

Image by mbg creative
  1. Start to shift your weight and balance on one foot, holding a lighter weight in the hand on the same side as your standing leg.
  2. Hinge over and extend your free leg behind you like a tail, and bring your opposite hand holding the weight out in front of you.
  3. Bring your elbow and knee together in the center then extend back into that long body position.
  4. That's one rep. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps, then switch sides. Complete 3 sets on both sides.

Pro tip

You will feel the greatest challenge in your back when the body is fully extended.
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Tips & modifications:

  • Keep your hips square throughout the exercise. 
  • Be sure to ground down through your entire foot and avoid wobbling around on your ankle throughout your reps.
  • Incorporate your breath by inhaling as you extend and exhaling as you curl in.
  • If you're struggling with balance here, you can use your free hand to hold on to something for stability. Alternatively, you can do a traditional bird dog, which isn't standing and involves starting from your hands and knees.
  • To make this more challenging, you can increase the weight in your hand and/or add ankle weights.

What are the benefits?

Doing a standard bird dog comes with so many benefits, but by making this a standing exercise, you're incorporating balance and stability. This move is also excellent for toning up your back muscles, which Arrington previously explained is essential to overall core strength.

"[Back muscles] help stabilize and bend your spine, raise and retract your arms, and are the key to good posture," she says, adding, "Truly, your back muscles play a role in just about every movement you can make."

With standing bird dog, you're working your hamstrings and glutes along the back of your legs, as well as your back muscles, and your core. Not bad for just one move.

Gather your gear

ATIVAFIT Adjustable Dumbbell Fitness Dial Dumbbell

$80
black dumbbells in set

FYGL Adjustable Dumbbell Barbell Set

$54
FYGL weights blue set

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells

$429
Bowflex black weights with red details

The takeaway.

If you're looking for some variety in your strength routine and want a quick exercise that can work your full body while improving your balance and posture, standing bird dog is one you won't want to miss.

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