Unilateral Training from the Ground Up: Bird Dog Progressions


The bird dog exercise.  If you’re a runner you’ve probably heard of it and if you’re a runner who wants to build unilateral strength (which you do) then you should absolutely be doing them.  

If you’re new to running or have just totally neglected incorporating strength exercises into your training, let me fill you in. 

The bird dog is an exercise that is essential in building not only core strength but also helps to stabilize the spine and resist rotation to build balance which are all important in keeping you upright while running.  It’s a cross patterning drill that not only will build core and glute strength but can also help highlight our weaknesses.  

The goal of the bird dog exercise is to resist rotation of the hips when extending opposing arms and legs while on all fours or in the quadruped position with the hands, knees and toes actively pushing against the ground and resisting rotation.  This is traditionally done as a bodyweight exercise but using the Ultimate Sandbag Core Bag increases the effectiveness since it encourages bracing of the torso and helps to connect the chains.

As I mentioned last week, in order to functionally strengthen your glutes and core you need to active your lats.  Your lats work with your glutes during your gait pattern so making sure they all work together when you’re strength training is KEY.  Which is why using the Ultimate Sandbag Core Bag really makes a world of difference. 

The placement of the handles on the Ultimate Sandbag are specifically designed to be shoulder width apart making it easy to grab the outside handles, pull them apart and really help activate and connect the upper body to lower body just like you would when running.  

You might also like:  Strength Exercises to Increase Running Stride

The beauty of using the Ultimate Sandbag along with the DVRT System is that it’s progressive meaning that you start in the most stable position first then build from there – building a foundation is imperative.  Last week was all about building the glute bridge and today we are going to take a look at how to properly progress the bird dog exercise.

The goal being that you will progress to single leg training and be able to do sprinter stance and single leg squats like a boss.

Unilateral Training from the Ground Up for Runners: Bird Dog Progressions  

ISO PULL BIRD DOG

How to perform: Begin in the quadruped position with your hands underneath your shoulders, knees underneath your hips and toes planted into the ground.  Grab the outside handles of the Ultimate Sandbag Core Bag with the palm facing up and take the slack out of the handles (don’t lift it up) while grabbing the ground with your stable hand and balls of the feet.  Progress this movement by eventually extending the opposing leg while gripping the handle at the same time.

LATERAL BIRD DOG DRAG

How to perform: Begin in the quadruped position with your hands underneath your shoulders, knees underneath your hips and toes planted into the ground.  “Pack the shoulder” and grab the outside handle of the Ultimate Sandbag Core Bag and drag (don’t lift) it laterally while extending the opposing leg.  Be sure to keep your hips square to the ground and resist rotation while performing in slow and controlled manner. 

DIAGONAL BIRD DOG DRAG

How to perform: Begin in the quadruped position with your hands underneath your shoulders, knees underneath your hips and toes planted into the ground with the Ultimate Sandbag Core Bag positioned by the knee.  “Pack the shoulder” and grab the outside handle of the bag with your and diagonally drag it while extending the opposing leg.

You might also like:  Fit To Perform: Functional Style For Functional Training

**The key to ALL of these progressions is to brace the torso and resist rotation in order to activate the glutes**

 

Next week we will continue to work our way building strength from the ground up with a series of new unilateral progressions using the DVRT System.  These progressions will help you to build the unilateral strength you need to not only do more advanced exercises but also help to identify and correct muscle imbalances making you a stronger, faster and more resilient runner. 

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About me

Annmarie is a self proclaimed foodie, avid long distance runner and functional fitness coach. A DVRT Master Trainer, HKC Instructor and food allergy sufferer, she writes about strength training for runners as well as shares allergy friendly recipes for busy athletes.   She is also the owner of Strength In Motion Studio, mother of two sassy sisters and wife to a chronically busy chiropractor.   Subscribe by email for updates to get the latest workouts, advice and recipes straight to your inbox!

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