Exercise You Should be Doing: The bird-dog plank row

There are only a few things in life that excite me. They are:

  • My dog
  • Coffee
  • Other dogs
  • Top Gun on repeat

That just about sums up the “Trish’s Favorite Things” list, except when I uncover a new exercise that is so cool and badass like today’s Bird-dog plank row.

What is it: An advanced variation of a few exercises (plank, bird-dog, row, and plank reach)

Where is it from: Um, my brain. Excuse me while I run to the patent office for this…

Who is it for: This is a challenging exercise for someone who has shown proficiency with basic planks, bird-dogs and rows.

How to do it: Start with a light weight and keep reps in the low 5-8 range in the beginning. Make sure to start with a strong plank first. Then, reach one leg behind you (off the floor), and row with the opposite arm. Keep your hips squared down and abdominals wrapped in. As you improve you can increase the rep range and challenge yourself more.

Here’s one of my youth clients crushing this exercise (thankfully she’s always down for my creativity!)



What I love about this exercise is that it combines a few things into a single movement:

  • Unilateral core strength & stability
  • A rowing movement
  • Hip stability
  • Glute and core activation
  • Shoulder stability

I don’t recommend going super heavy with the dumbbell in this exercise. My client here started with 10lbs even though I know she can row twice that amount. What I was really interested in was her level of stability and control from one side to the next, and I could quickly detect where she needed improvement in this exercise.

While I’m never one to over complicate a movement that already works great (i.e. a plank or a row), an exercise like this one provides me (the coach) and the client instant feedback about what is working well and what needs improvement. This is super helpful when working with someone who is already strong to begin with. A little creativity and spice keeps the program from getting stale while enhancing the training effect (and feedback) needed to improve. Give it a shot!


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