When you’re working out at home with very little to no equipment, you’ve gotta get creative. Instead of sticking to basic push-ups, you work your way up to the Russian version that essentially gives you an entire core workout in a single rep. And don’t even get me started on all the squat variations I’ve tried that left me sore for days. But one of the most challenging exercises I’ve tried is something I didn’t even know existed until about five minutes ago. You probably haven’t heard of the “flying bird dog” before—mostly because the name came straight from one of Well+Good’s fitness editors.
Don’t let the fun name fool you, though, because this combo is not easy. A hybrid between the bird dog and a bear plank, the exercise doesn’t just put your balance and stability to the test. It’s also a really challenging way to strengthen your abs and glutes using nothing but your own bodyweight.
Instead of just holding a bear plank—which is already hard enough on its own!—this exercise has you raising your arm and leg bird dog-style. With this modification, you no longer get the support of your bottom knee on your mat. When it’s hovering slightly off the floor, your glutes and abs have to fire up even more in order to keep your body stable. And, well, prevent you from falling over and/or dropping to the ground. It even turned my arms to Jell-O.
If you want to try the flying bird dog for yourself, follow the instructions below. Just make sure you’ve mastered the bear plank and bird dog individually first, because this move isn’t easy.
Flying bird dog
- Start on your hands and knees on the mat, making sure your shoulders are aligned with your wrists and that your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
- Raise into a bear plank with your knees hovering a couple inches off the floor. Keep your back flat and core engaged.
- Slowly raise your left arm forward and kick your right leg back. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your toes.
- Hold for 10 seconds and return to the bear plank position. Repeat on the opposite side.
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