There's Only So Many Bird Dogs You Can Do Before You Need To Deadlift!

Ok so firstly .. you may be asking “what the heck is a bird dog” .. a Bird Dog is an exercise designed for anti-extension / rotation to help strengthen the posterior chain (back on our body), creating initial stability through the shoulder, torso and hip. This exercise is purely body weight , but you can modify this using bands and light / small weights.

In Pilates and some cases in one on one training we work on this exercise for those to master the control of their body and initially build some stability around the spine and back .. did you notice the word ‘ initially’ ?

Now we all from time to time have to work on the basics again .. master them and build a stronger foundation. The idea that body weight exercises help us build some initial control and strength, they help us to feel and target a given muscle while another works naturally to support that action. We can only contract (flex) a given muscle naturally with so much force, what I mean is try bending your arm and squeezing your bicep .. is that bicep strong enough to curl a 10 or 20 kg dumbbell?? Probably not .. now go pick up a weight and perform some bicep curls .. squeeze the muscle in its shortened position and do 3 sets of 10 reps .. so you’ve performed 30 reps with that weight, even if you picked up a 2.5kg dumbbell you’ve put that action and muscle under tension beyond what you can naturally squeeze. Does that make our bicep stronger? Well yes, as long as you had good control and knew how to contact your muscle .. hence why we start with body weight exercises (maybe not so much bicep curls though).

So back to the Bird Dog exercise and why we reach a point where we need to ADD resistance, weight, more tension in order to get STRONGER .. whether its after rehab, an injury, or given that your sport demands are high on shear (forces pushing one part of a body in one specific direction) or compression forces (pushing forces an object so as it makes it shorter or thicker) .i.e. Rugby, Running, Football, even sitting and standing etc ..

We need to add MORE LOADED FORCES to the body in order to make it stronger. It becomes stronger by it’s reaction to a force applied, for example, either the bone density increases or we recruit muscle fibres (as in motor units) .. now this doesn’t mean we grow bigger larger bones nor bigger larger muscles .. Strength training is FIRMING the existing body up against the given force, it adapts to the stimulus. So you can only generate so much force with the body alone and produce so much force contracting the muscles.

So there’s only so many birddog exercise you can do before you need to deadlift .. lift or move weights .. this doesn’t mean the extremely heavy, you might start with light weights and work on how you move and lift them .. this will still adapt the body within.

Now everyone reacts differently to a training stimulus and we are all different with ability and movement .. so strength training is individual in it’s process .. but think of this; a runner will gradually increase their time out running in order to increase distance (they tend to do this process first) .. their cardiovascular and muscle energy system adapts .. it get’s a little more efficient with taking in and using oxygen and more glycogen as energy. With strength training we lift heavier we recruit more muscle fibres, these additional units help increase the contractile strength in a muscle. The higher the recruitment the stronger the muscle contraction will be. So an object you may have lifted off the ground a year ago with a lot of effort is now effortless .. the body doesn’t need to command all the units to help lift it, just a few. Those you become efficient and stronger.

Anyway that’s quite a lot to take in .. the summary of this is is if you only attend a Pilates class or Yoga then you will only get as strong as that class or exercise permits .. a lot of people and clients / members could do with increasing the weights now and again .. moving them better and pushing the body a little more.

Our bodies are natural degenerating so we need to combat this by rebuilding it weekly .. strength training should be for everyone from 8 years old to 80 years old .. just doing that little extra can help reduce the effects of the body breaking down, reduce injuries and hip / back aches .. move and perform better .. work better and live better ..

Please get in touch to speak with me about adding just one strength session into your weekly routine can really do to for. Photos attached are a Birddog .. DB Deadlift, DB Squat and a DB Front Lunge. All excellent exercises for building a stronger body.

Please let me know on any other topics and info you wish for me to highlight and discuss.

Pete