Partner Strength and Conditioning: The Double Bird Dog



I like to use the double bird dog as an introductory drill in partner strength and conditioning. The move is low risk but requires a lot of core stabilization. It works well as a warmup for acrobalance and acryoga, and has enough variation to be a stand-alone core stabilization drill for partners of all levels.

The double bird dog is a partner spin off the bird dog which is a popular physical therapy exercise. The bird dog involves reaching with opposite arm and leg while in a hands-and-knees position and has been found to evoke significant activity in the multifidi muscles. The multifidi muscles are deep muscles that span 2-3 vertebral segments and work to stabilize and coordinate the movement of the spine. They are especially important to address in the rehabilitation of back injuries because studies have found that the multifidi are weak and atrophied in people with chronic low back pain.

The multifid highlighted in orange.


The double bird dog takes things to another level by evoking significant engagement of the lower abdominal muscles. The transverus abdominus and internal obliques are active when one is trying to prevent the arm and leg from moving away from the naval. A series of abdominal stbilization drills call the supine Sahrmann progress developed by physical therapist Shirley Sahrmann involve lying on ones back and reching out with the leg and back while keeping the back from moving. The double bird dog is a two for one ticket combining the bird dog with the sahrmann progression. Enjoy!


-Base lies on their back in hooklying position with knees bent and feet on the floor.
-Flyer stands at base’s head, facing base’s feet
-Base places hands under flyers shins (exact placement depends on the ratio of torso length of base and flyer. For a shorter flyer, move further back on the shin)

-Base and Flyer engage abdominal muscles by drawing the naval in toward the spine
-Flyer leans forward and places their hands on the bases knees
-Flyer begins to pour weight into their hands
-Base lifting shins and brings hands directly over shoulders
-Base and Flyer keep backs straight at all times

-Base lifts feet off the ground (Pictured)
-Base lifts and lowers feet together (excellent lower abdominal workout)
-Base extends hands or feet further away from the center of their body
-Flyer lifts one leg (Pictured; base can move both hands to one shin to stabilize)
-Flyer lifts one arm
-Flyer lifts opposite arm and leg simultaneously

-Try to hold a difficult position for 10seconds
-Try repetitions of 10 for the movements


Jessica and I will teach the double bird dog in a workshop on April 6th 2013 in Oakland California at the Great Western Power Company. See flyer below for details, signup at the gym or let me know you are interested by contacting me at


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