The bird-dog is a canny canine used by hunters to help find and retrieve game. Pointers, retrievers, setters and spaniels come into the category, and the one thing that links them apart from their ability to sniff out prey is a rock solid core. While you won’t gain the means to smell out a pheasant’s roost by doing the bird-dog crunch, you will be doing your core a favour.
Core, balance, flexibility, they’ll all be improved with the bird-dog exercise. The constant balancing act strengthens the core just as much as the crunching, and you should also be more mobile in the hips and shoulders departments after a few weeks of bird-dogging. The movement also works out the muscles that support your spine, making it a fine antidote to lower back issues caused by day after day of sitting hunched over a desk.
How To Do The Bird-Dog Crunch
Start on your hands and knees, much like a regular dog. Stretch your right arm out in front of you, hold for a moment to get your balance, then extend your left leg out behind you. This is the bit that resembles a bird-dog, pointing out the prey for the hunter.
Keep your neck in line with your spine, your hips level and the extended limbs straight. All of this might be tricky the first time out, you might not have the flexibility in your hips and shoulders to straighten your arms and legs entirely, but the balance and mobility will come in time.
From your bird-dog position bring your extended limbs in to meet under your chest, where your elbow and knee should touch. Then extend out again and repeat, aiming for five reps in total before you switch to the opposite limbs. Aim for three sets of this in total.
Bird-Dog Crunch Variations
The bird-dog crunch is an excellent core exercise for beginners, but it can also be toughened up pretty easily once you get to grips with it. One way to do this is instead of crunching back from your extended position immediately you can hold the pose for 10 seconds to really challenge the core.
For bird-dog pros, you can try the movement while lifting the arm and leg on the same side of your body. This is a keen test of balance, and keeping yourself upright will only be possible once you have the killer core of a cocker spaniel.