How to Do Bird Dog Row Properly

You think your core strength is on point? Test yourself using the bird dog row exercise and be sure it will provide your body with a new challenge.

Popularised by internationally recognised exercise physiologist Dr Joel Seedman, the bird dog row is a simple core exercise that will see to it that you achieve great general body stability. It will also encourage a neutral spine and relieve those low back pain attacks you have been having.

The good news is, this exercise is suitable for people of all levels. It can be used to align your spine, which will in turn prevent injury risks.

Read on to know more about this exercise including its benefits, the muscles it works and the alternative exercises that will serve the same muscles it does.

HOW TO DO BIRD DOG ROW PROPERLY

This exercise will require you to use a bench and weights.

On a bench, assume the bird dog position and ensure you are well balanced to avoid tipping off during mid- set.

Whatever the side your kettlebell is on, drive the opposite foot behind you, that is, away from your body.

With a tight core and your belly button pointed directly towards the ground, row the kettlebell up.

Focus on keeping your shoulder down and pulling by bringing your elbow back. Once the kettlebell reaches your side, slowly lower it back downwards.

After completing the reps on one side, switch to the other arm and complete on the other side.

BIRD DOG ROW PROPER ALIGNMENT AND TECHNIQUE TIPS

In order to ensure that you are getting the most benefit out of this exercise, you have to ensure that you pay attention to your body form and use the right techniques.

The following tips will help you get it right.

Be keen to maintain your hips level and don’t rotate your hips.

While lifting your leg, do not over raise it such that your spine curves past its natural position.

Ensure that you feel a line of energy from your fingertips all along your body to your toes.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES BIRD DOG ROW WORK?

The muscles involved in this exercise are so important for daily activities, which makes it essential to your regime.

ERECTOR SPINAE

The erector spinae muscles include the intermediate layer of the deep back muscles. They are made up of the spinalis, longissimus, and iliocostalis muscles.

These muscles serve to move the vertebral column. They are also important for maintaining posture.

GLUTEUS MAXIMUS

This is one of the three muscles that make up the butt. It is the most superficial one and gives the butt its shape. Anatomy wise, its main purpose is to extend and externally rotate the thigh.

CORE

The core is made up of numerous muscles including: rectus abdominis, transverse abdominals, obliques, erector spinae, among others. All these muscles work together to support the spine and contribute to the movement of the trunk.

DELTOID ANTERIOR

This is one of the three muscles that make up the shoulder muscles. It helps the deltoid posterior to stabilise the arm while the lateral head abducts the arm from 15- 100 degrees and works with the pectoralis major to flex the arm when walking.

Additionally, it also works with the other two heads to prevent inferior displacement of the glenohumeral joint when the arm is pressed against the body under load.

BENEFITS OF THE BIRD DOG ROW

This exercise has a lot of benefits, some of which are listed below.

PREVENTS OVERSTRETCHING AT THE BOTTOM POSITION

A common thing in strength coaches is teaching their students against overstretching and protraction during the eccentric portion of a row.

Other than placing stress on the glenohumeral joint, it will also promote faulty postural mechanics.

Similar to strength coaches, the bird dog row will also teach you optimal protraction, which happens to be more subtle than most coaches realise.

It will do this by reinforcing optimal end range of motion in the eccentric position as overstretching will cause the core musculature to relax and disrupt neutral spine alignment both of which will cause you the lifter to lose your balance.

ELIMINATES EXCESSIVE RANGE OF MOTION AND OVEROWING

This exercise prevents you from over rowing, which is a common thing in many lifters. Most of them tend to overpull while rowing particularly at the end of the concentric phase.

Due to this, their elbow drifts far beyond the plane of their torso, which places undue stress on their shoulder joints and also eliminates tension from the back and lats.

Instead, the elbow and triceps should be approximately lined up with the torso.

If you try to over row while doing the bird dog row, or try using an exaggerated pulling motion, you will actually lose your balance as your t spine will no longer be perfectly stacked with the rest of your vertebral column.

IMPROVES 3D SHOULDER POSITIONING AND SCAPULA MECHANICS

Proper shoulder positioning in rows is a new thing to most people and as such, not many know how to achieve it.

Basically, your shoulders need to retract, depress and medially rotate towards your spine as you row. Doing this exercise will ensure that you maintain this position throughout.

BIRD DOG ROW ALTERNATIVES

BURPEES

This alternative combines both strength and cardio by engaging major muscle groups of the body in major succession.

AB CRUNCHES

These are some of the most common exercises for working your abdominal muscles.

SUPERMAN

This alternative will help to develop your core and lower back muscles while providing a great stretch for your back.

BARBELL DEADLIFT

This alternative is a strength exercise that will work your hamstrings, spinal erectors and glutes.

BIRD DOG ROW COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID

Avoid sinking your chest towards the bench as this can lead to spine damage.

Avoid lifting your leg too high as this will cause your spine to twist from its natural position.

Avoid rotating your pelvis and hips as this could cause instability.

TAKE AWAY

Feel free to do the bird dog row exercise on its own or include it in your current fitness programme. However, pay attention to the correct form and technique as these are key.