The quadruped opposite arm and leg lift exercise, which is also commonly referred to as the bird dog, strengthens your lower back. It utilizes your body weight as resistance and requires only an exercise mat to perform. Those looking to incorporate it into their training regimen should assign it two to three days per week with a day of rest between sessions.
To perform the quadruped opposite arm and leg lift exercise, kneel on a mat on all fours with your hands positioned directly underneath your shoulders and your knees lined up directly underneath your hips. Your spine should remain neutral throughout the entire movement. Do not allow your torso to twist. Extend your left arm up and forward while simultaneously extending your right leg up and backwards until both limbs are parallel to the floor. Hold the top position for a moment and then return both limbs to the floor. On the next repetition, extend your right arm and left leg. If you prefer, you can perform all assigned repetitions of one arm and leg before switching sides.
According to ExRx.net, quadruped opposite arm and leg lifts primarily target the erector spinae muscles, which run along your spine and are responsible for extending your torso. Assisting in the movement is the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the buttocks, which is responsible for driving your leg backward. The deltoid and trapezius also work together to extend your arm forward.
Quadruped opposite arm and leg lifts are beneficial for those looking to develop strength in their lower back to reduce their risk of injury due to muscular weakness. It’s also included in physical therapy programs of those recovering from spinal stenosis and sciatica. A common training volume assigned by therapists for strengthening is to perform three sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
You can increase the difficulty of the quadruped opposite arm and left lift exercise by performing it on an exercise ball. This adds an element of instability to the exercise, which requires your surrounding core muscles to contract to assist in stabilization. Lie on your stomach on the ball with your arms extended down on the floor in front of you and your legs extended behind you with your feet on the floor. As you lift one arm and the opposite leg, you’ll feel the ball start to quiver.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.