Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredBodyweight
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypeIsometric
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
Target Muscle Group


Abs Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Contralateral Bird Dog Overview

The contralateral bird dog is a variation of the bird dog exercise and is used to strengthen the muscles of the core.

The contralateral bird dog stems from the plank exercise family tree and builds core muscle by requiring the core to stabilize the spine while reaching one arm forward and the opposite leg back.

Contralateral Bird Dog Instructions

  1. Assume a quadruped position with your knees under hips, hands under shoulders, and toes tucked.
  2. Extend the opposite arm and leg while keeping your hips and torso stable.
  3. Slowly lower the arm and leg back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Contralateral Bird Dog Tips

  1. When you extend the leg, ensure the movement comes entirely from hip extension and you don’t substitute lumbar extension instead (i.e. when you extend the leg, your back shouldn’t arch, you shouldn’t feel a contraction in your spinal erectors, and the leg should be inline with your torso.)
  2. Similarly, as you reach overhead, watch for excessive extensive through the lumbar spine as a compensation.
  3. As you reach overhead, you should be able to feel your lower trap (at the bottom edge of your scapula closest to your spine) working somewhat reflexively.
  4. If you find you can’t seem to get the hip fully extended or the arm fully overhead, check your core position first (i.e. fix the extension bias). Then, look at a lack of thoracic extension, glute activation, core stability, or scapular upward rotation.
  5. Exhale as you reach and push. Imagine you’re trying to balance a cup of water on your back as you complete reps. The goal is control repetitions, not just the quantity of reps performed.