Video Transcript:

Today we will be focusing on the bird dog beginner version. The bird dog is a great exercise to really work on stabilizing and strengthening your core muscles. This is the beginner version with the arms only.

I’m going to describe to you what it looks like first. Then I’ll walk you through a couple of key points. To start with, we go on all fours.

We contract our core. When I say contract, I don’t mean suck in your stomach. I don’t mean hollow it. I mean that if somebody was going to punch you in the stomach, you would contract or tighten that area. That’s what we’re focusing on.

We are contracting our abdominals and then I push out one arm and make a fist. So it looks like this. I’m contracting my core the entire time, while I’m moving my arm.

I’m holding this position, with my arm extended, for about six to eight seconds. I’m actively pushing my fist forward and then I’m swinging down and then I come up again on the same side. You do that about five times on the one side. Then you would switch sides.

As I push my arm out, it’s roughly horizontal or slightly lower than that. When I swing down, I don’t touch down, my hand does not touch the ground, so I just swing down and I come up again.

As I’m doing this, as I’m holding my arm up for 6-8 seconds, I’m actively making a fist and I’m pushing my fist forward. The key is to do the movement nice and slowly down, then nice and slowly up. As you are moving, you’re keeping your core contracted, to prevent movement of your low back or lumbar spine. The whole point of a core exercise is to stabilize your low back area, is to strengthen this area.

There shouldn’t be any movement in your lower back with this exercise, the core muscles are designed to actually prevent motion. So as you go through this movement, you are using the core muscles to actually stabilize your lumbar spine to prevent motion. That will work on strengthening them.

So after I’ve done this five times on the one side, I take a break just for a few seconds, I reset. And then I do the opposite side, and again, I would do this nice and slow. Ideally you are doing about five repetitions on the one side, then switching, and a total of three sets on each side.

None of this should be painful. If it’s painful, please stop. Let us know that we can modify these exercises, but the key is to do this slowly, to do it controlled so that you’re not experiencing any pain, and so that you are really isolating those core muscles.

Any questions about any of this, please ask.

What is the Beginner Bird Dog Exercise Arms Only?

This core exercise is the easiest version of the bird dog exercises, which involves no leg motion, but only alternating arm motion. This stimulates the core area, but decreases the movement in the lower back, making it the safest bird dog for anyone suffering with lower back pain.

Beginner Bird Dog Exercise Arms Only Instructions:

  • Step 1

    Begin on all fours.

  • Step 2

    Contract your core to tighten it. Do not suck it in or hollow it, but tighten or brace it.

  • Step 3

    Move your one arm out in front of you, to an almost horizontal position, or slightly below horizontal.

  • Step 4

    Concentrate on actively pushing your fist out from your body, away from you in front, while maintaining a contraction in your abdominals.

  • Step 5

    Hold this elevated position approximately 6-8 seconds.

  • Step 6

    Swing your arm slowly down towards the ground, without touching the ground or stopping.

  • Step 7

    In one fluid motion, slowly come up again to the arm extended in front of you. Hold again for 6-8 seconds.

  • Step 8

    While swinging your arm down and up again, maintain the contraction in your abdominals, to limit movement in your low back. This is key.

  • Step 9

    Repeat this motion 5 times on the one side, then switch arms, and repeat.

  • Step 10

    Aim to do 2-3 sets per side, and 1-2x/day.

  • Step 11

    If it is painful, please stop, and we can modify.

  • Step 12

    Any questions, please ask.

Read More About Beginner Bird Dog
Exercise Arms Only Below

In this video you will learn how to do the beginner bird dog exercise arms only version, an introductory bird dog core exercise. This is a great exercise for people with back pain, or with a history of back pain, because it isolates the movement to only the arm. While this may seem overly simple or easy, it is important to minimize any stress on your low back if you have pain, and minimize the potential for injury, while still being able to strengthen your core and stabilize your lumbar spine.

The setup is the same as for all cross crawl type exercises. Start on all fours, and stabilize or contract your core or abdominals. Watch the video for a more detailed description on how to do this.

The key for any of the bird dogs is core stabilization, which limits the motion in your lumbar spine. During the entire exercise, your low back should not move as you move your arms through their range of motion. This is accomplished by maintaining the abdominal contraction throughout, but particularly while the arm is in motion.

Once you can do this version easily, without pain, you may then be ready to progress to the beginner bird dog exercise with legs only, or eventually the intermediate version with arms and legs. Do not rush through these progressions, and if you feel any pain, slow down and concentrate on maintaining the contraction in your core, and limiting the motion in your low back.

Any questions, please ask. Watch the video multiple times to understand the movements in detail.

For further low back exercises, low back stretches, and core exercises, refer to our back pain Toronto condition page here:

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