This no-equipment, core-strengthening exercise works your backside — your back, glutes, and hips — as well as your abs.
Start on all fours. Place your hands directly below your shoulders, fingers forward, and knees directly below your hips. Maintain a flat back, and look down at the ground with your head and spine aligned (neutral spine). Engage your core, tightening your abs. Extend your right arm and your left leg, keeping contact with the ground for balance if you need to. Once balanced, simultaneously raise your extended arm and leg maintaining a straight line with your spine.
Do not lift your leg above hip height. Do not rotate or drop your shoulders. Your head is an extension of your spine; don’t drop or raise it. You can alternate sides, which requires better balance, or do the desired number of reps on one side, then repeat on the other side.
You may want to add a crunch at the bottom of the move for an added challenge, which more fully engages your abs. Come to the starting position. As in the basic bird dog, raise your opposite arm and leg following the instructions above. As you lower your arm and leg, bring the elbow and knee of the extended arm and leg together, touching, if you can, below your abdomen. You will need to round your spine to do this, but be sure to maintain a straight spine during the lift. This modification works better if you do all reps on one side first, then switch to the other side.
April 13, 2015
Janet O’Dell, RN