Fitness · Health

Fitness Saturday: Doing the Bird Dog

We continue our Fitness Saturday series with another exercise recommended by personal trainer Brooke Marrone, president and founder of Brooke Marrone Fitness, in New York City.

Note: If you have any history of musculo-skeletal injury or discomfort, we urge you to discuss your participation in our workouts with your health care provider.


This Saturday we continue to get acquainted with our core. The core (also called “abs”) is actually a group of muscles that include the obliques, the abdominals, the lower back muscles, and the glutes. The best core exercises target multiple muscle groups with one move. I chose the Bird Dog because it does that and also works on balance and stability, two very important factors in establishing a strong core. The Bird Dog has both a basic and an advanced version. 

BasicBrooke Marrone demonstrating the Basic Bird Dog.

Basic Bird Dog:

  • Start on all fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
  • Engage your abdominal muscles (pull your belly button into your spine) and slide one leg out behind you and bring the opposite arm out in front of you.
  • Exhale and lift both the arm and leg off the floor equally, bringing them in line with your torso.
  • Keep your shoulders down and back (away from your ears) and your head a natural extension of your spine.
  • Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, and remember to breathe.
  • Return to your starting position and repeat on the other side.
  • Continue to alternate for a total of 10 reps.
  • Keep your movements and breath slow and controlled, and maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise. You can progress to the more advanced version once you feel comfortable.

 AdvancedBrooke Marrone demonstrating the Advanced Bird Dog

Advanced Bird Dog

  • Start on all fours and follow all of the cues listed above.
  • Extend and lift one leg and opposite arm out and up, as you did in the Basic Bird Dog.
  • Hold for a few seconds to secure your balance and slowly bring your extended elbow and knee to meet underneath your body.
  • From there, bring your arm and leg back out straight and strong (do not drop back down to all fours) and repeat. Do 5 to 10 times on each side. (If you have limited flexibility, you may have to work up to being able to fully connect your elbow to your knee.) If you have trouble maintaining the all-fours position because of wrist pain, hold on to a set of 5-pound-or-heavier dumbbells, and that will help take pressure out of your wrists.


Brooke Marrone, president and founder of Brooke Marrone Fitness, launched her New York City private training business in 2008. She was an NCAA Division 1 athlete and holds certifications in Personal Training, Pilates, and Group Fitness. She is the resident health expert for Bikini Thief and has contributed fitness content to magazines such as Self, Shape, Real Simple, Cosmopolitan, and Marie Claire.


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