Effective Birddog Performance

Birddogs are a fantastic exercise for not only improving core stability, but for rehabilitating the lower back as well. Unfortunately, a lot of people assume that just because an exercise appears simple that they can mindlessly crank out the reps.

This video demonstrates proper performance of the birddog exercise, along with outlining common errors. Specific coaching cues are included as well.

Most importantly, check out that sweet picture-in-picture with the PVC pipe – that totally made my morning when I figured that out!

I sincerely hope you enjoyed the video, and if you’ve got any follow-up questions, feel free to leave them in the “Comments” section below!

All the best


(Lead photo courtesy of Planetc1)


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  1. Hey Mike,

    great video. As stated some time ago, I really like those short videos with your comments!
    And Lance seems to really enjoy it aswell 😀

    One question though:
    Craig Liebenson has the bird-dog also in the following article: http://www.mikereinold.com/2010/06/core-stability-exercises-modern.html
    He proposes reps of 15-12-8 as the highest progression.

    How would you progress from there?
    Or is your general experience with the bird-dog that nobody ever achieves 15-12-8 perfect reps with the bird-dog. Did Craig Liebenson’s program a few months back and didn’t know what to do then from there on or I simply didn’t have nice enough form?!


    • I typically use somewhere between 8 and 12 reps for 2 sets. Incorporate a 151 tempo, or 2 deep diaphragmatic breaths at the mid point.

      Once you’ve mastered that with lifting the hand, you can move on to more aggressive progressions.

      Good luck!

  2. Mike,

    Good video of a great exercise. The quadruped position is one that requires great attention to detail and does offer a lot for a little effort. It’s a great place to really work on negative z-axis translation at the c-sx while keeping everything else in play, for example. The progression options also make it a great place to play.

    Carson Boddicker

  3. Really enjoying the short coaching video format Mike! Great to have the simple cues discussed during the video aswell :o)

  4. The production value is getting better and better. This video was the best one, as a viewer, that I’ve seen. Smooth as butter.

    • Thanks Jeffery! We’ll get it all sorted out – we had two lights blow out on us during this shoot alone, so nothing is ever smooth 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words though – much appreciated!


  5. Hey Mike,

    I am having a real hard time pinpointing what exactly I need to work on in regards to my strengths and weaknesses, it seems every which way I turn there is another issue that needs addressing.

    For months I suffered from some pretty debilitating lower back pain and thanks to your articles on elite, here as well as t-nation I have been able to bring things under control by stretching, rolling (both tennis ball and foam roller) and doing lots of dynamic warm-up for the hips nearly everyday (DeFranco Agile 8) but I am still having issues. The main things I notice are:

    1. Left glute is having a real hard time firing, much more difficult than the right (especially when trying glute bridges or birddogs)

    2. My right QL is extremely tight (been tennis ball rolling for a few days now) and when I walk my right foot seems to rotate almost like squishing the bug in a baseball swing (from little league, haha). I have also noticed my right hip flexors become overloaded and feel worn out by the end of the day.

    3. My left hamstring seems to really take over on any unilateral work

    4. I notice a major imbalance left to right in strength and flexibility. Left abs and glutes are weaker than right, my right QL and hip flexor are more irritated than my left.

    5. I also tended to become splayfooted on my right side when doing any squatting motion and have traced that to a tight QL, can anything else cause this?

    I should also note that I stood on my right leg habitually when standing in lines or when doing anything really which may explain why my right glute is much better at firing than my left.

    Sorry for the long winded post but I feel as though I am well on my way but need just a bit more help to connect all the dots. Keep up the great work, I am really enjoying your unique approach to health and fitness.

    • Zach –

      You sound like a slam-dunk case of PRI (Postural Respiration Institute). Check out their info online – it should help you solve the rest of your puzzle.

      Good luck!

  6. Thanks for the link, Mike. The approach makes sense and certainly seems like what I am looking for but there doesn’t seem to be much information I can take away from the site without paying a truckload of money. I feel much better but certainly know there are still issues that are going to show themselves if I don’t take the time to correct them now.

  7. Zach, I am a avid believer and success story from PRI. I’ve had some issues with lower back, i.e. microdiscectomy surgery for herniated disc at L4/L5 region, along with two pelvic floor repair surgeries for my adductor, hip flexors, and lower abdominal muscles. Two visits to Ron Hruska at PRI in Lincoln, NE got me back on track. Just don’t quit with the corrective exercises and I have faith you’ll be a new man.


    Do you incorporate PRI’s philosophy into your training? How do you know about them?



  8. Here is a follow-up to my post above:

    This evaluation was done as a favor by my buddy’s PT clinic and below are the major observations that were made. I really want to have a structured and simple approach to fixing these issues.

    Static Observations: forward head posture, elevated and pronated shoulders, posterior pelvic tilt

    Movement Observations: Restricted hip extension, faulty hip abduction, right greater than left foot hyperpronation, right greater than left restricted ankle dorsiflexion, restricted thoracic extension, sub-optimal one leg stand balance

    Tight/Overactive Groups

    Hip Flexors



    Upper Trapezius

    Weak/Inhibited Groups

    Glutes (Maximus and Medius)

    Middle and Lower Trapezius

    External Shoulder Rotators

    Tibialis Anterior

    Intrinsic Foot Muscles

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