The bird dog row is a core-based variation on the single arm row that can give  you a higher return on your physical investment when used correctly.


The reason I say it “can” be because it really depends on what you’re trying to achieve.


I won’t dive too deep into it, but if you’re someone who simply wants the gains, then the bird-dog row may not give you the right stimulus to fatigue ratio that you’d want for hypertrophy training.


Simply put, you’d be sacrificing muscle building load and volume, whilst also introducing fatigue that’s not exactly beneficial for hypertrophy.


However, for those who want to develop functional strength, a bulletproof core, co-ordination, save time on their training, and/or iron out muscular imbalances; the bird-dog row is for you.

The Bird-dog Row

The bird-dog row is a in essence a simple concept.


Take a bird-dog (I still don’t know why this is named as such, so please enlighten me if you know!) and mash it together with a single arm row.


Why’s is so effective?


Well, the bird-dog position puts a high demand on the core muscles of the trunk, hips and shoulders as they try to stabilise the spine.


This is because the contralateral base of support makes it much harder to stabilise the body.


And, if you’re unable to stabilise your body, you’re unable to complete the row. It’s as simple as that.


What this means is that the bid-dog row can help to reduce biomechanical compensations, helping to teach optimal positioning and technique to complete the movement. 


This especially makes it a great exercise for those who may have lower back pain and anyone who would benefit from increase midline stability of the hips and trunk. 


Or, if you’re just someone who is low on time and wants to involve as much of their body as possible during their training sessions, then this exercise should be up for consideration.


The bird-dog row also gives you a chance to progress you’re training through the introduction of more complex movement, training muscles in a different way and under different circumstances than before.


Essentially, you can use the bird-dog row to supplement your main lifts, with carry over effects from core development and motor control.

How To Do It

  1. Using a bench, grab a dumbbell or kettlebell in preparation
  2. Place one knee on the bench stacked under your hip, on the same side you intend to row from
  3. Place your opposite hand on the bench, stacked over your shoulder
  4. Extend your other leg in the air keeping your thigh in line with your body 
  5. With your spine neutral, and body parallel the bench, brace your core as you allow the load to hang under your shoulder
  6. From here, row towards your hip resisting any excessive movement through the trunk, hips and shoulders.

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Sam is a Personal Trainer, Online Coach and Fitness Educator with background in achieving results for a variety of clients. Sam now specialises in Pain Free Performance, helping people across the world to achieve their goals safely and effectively. 

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