You probably already know that, when it comes to ab training, crunches are out and planks are in. The former don’t do much except put your spine through the pressure of flexing dozens of times, while the latter – where you get into a push-up position and stay stiff as a board for anywhere from 10 seconds to 8 hours (fine, that’s the world record) – ‘teach’ your abs to brace against movement, making you better-equipped for everyday life.
But there’s a problem: what about rotational strength? This is the missing link in many people’s ab training, and the ability to keep your core tight as your body twists itself around is key to everything from swinging a tennis racket to not falling over on a crowded tube. You can build it with cable moves and medicine ball throws – but what about when you don’t have a gym nearby?
Enter the ‘Bird Dog’. This move – named after the pose adopted by pointer dogs when they’re hunting for birds – forces you to not only brace your abs harder than a plank but avoid toppling over to one side by resisting your torso’s natural torque.
The procedure: get onto your hands and knees, then slowly bring one arm and the opposite leg off the floor and bring them in line with your spine. Next, bring them underneath your mid-section to touch the same knee and elbow together, then repeat as many times as necessary…and repeat on the other side.
3-5 reps on each side are enough to start with – we emphasise going slow, and in your hunt for ab strength, you’ll be off to an excellent start.