When strengthening your core for cycling, it is essential to take a varied approach.
The Bird Dog is a popular core and spinal stabilization exercise because of its effectiveness in reinforcing proper spinal alignment and core muscle recruitment. The demands of cycling place stress on our spines in many ways, and therefore it is important to vary the exercises we perform to strengthen the core.
Performing the Bird Dog is quite simple:
Proper execution of the Bird Dog can produce a variety of benefits, including improvements in core musculature contraction, rotational stability, spinal alignment, reduced low-back pain, postural control, shoulder stability, hip alignment, shoulder mobility, and spinal stabilization.
In addition, the opposite arm and leg movement make the Bird Dog an integrative core exercise, which proves to be more effective in targeting the core muscles in a recent study, and a critical aspect of athletic performance.
Whether you’re a recreational rider, competitive racer, fitness enthusiast, or an active individual looking for a way to improve your low-back function and spinal health, the Bird Dog is a worthwhile exercise that can enhance multiple aspects of performance and muscle function.
Key Tips for Proper Form
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Quadruped Alternate Arm
While on your hands and knees, slowly raise your arm out in front of you and hold.
Quadruped Alternate Leg with Hip Extention
While on your hands and knees, slowly draw your leg back behind you as you straighten your knee.
Quadruped Alternate Arm and Leg – “The Bird Dog”
While on your hands and knees, brace at your abdominals and slowly lift your leg and opposite arm upwards.
Your hip and shoulder will move into hip extension on the way up.
Lower your leg and arm down and then repeat with the opposite side.
Quadruped Alternate Arm and Leg with Knee to Elbow Touches- “Bird Dog Elbow Touches”
While on your hands and knees, slowly lift your leg and opposite arm upwards.
Do not touch the floor when returning your arm and leg down. Touch your elbow to your opposite knee and then lift and straighten again.
Repeat on the opposite side when the set is complete or alternate.
Conclusion: The Bird Dog Series
The bird dog exercise works the erector spinae, rectus abdominis, and glutes and allows for correct movement, control, and stability of the whole body.
It’s an ideal exercise for people with low back concerns due to its simplicity and protection of the spine, and it can help develop good balance and posture.
The Bird Dog teaches you to engage your abdominals and stabilize your low back while moving your extremities. This exercise allows for greater ease and mobility in many of your daily activities, athletic movements, and even cycling.
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site.
In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, TheDIRTDadFund. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.
You will read him promoting his passion on the pages of Cycling Weekly, Cycling News, road.cc, Zwift Insider, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!