If you are looking to improve your core strength, your posture and your balance then the quadruped, or the bird dog exercise as it’s also known, is the exercise for you.

It’s an exercise which helps to strengthen the lower back and prevent injury and is used for physical therapy if you have a spinal injury or sciatica.

So, whether you’re an athlete, bodybuilder,  fitness enthusiast or super active and looking for a way to improve your lower-back function and spinal health, then the quadruped can enhance both performance and muscle function.

In this article, we’ll be discussing:

  • What is the quadruped
  • How to do the quadruped exercise
  • What are the benefits of the quadruped exercise
  • Who is the quadruped exercise suitable for / not suitable for?

What Is The Quadruped Exercise

The quadruped is a bodyweight floor exercise that strengthens the abdominal muscles, lower back, glutes, and thighs and hamstrings. As it’s a bodyweight exercise, no equipment is used as your own body and gravity provide the resistance. It’s also easy to do anywhere, as long as you have enough room to extend both an arm and a leg.

To perform the quadruped exercise correctly kneel on a mat on all fours with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. Your spine should remain neutral throughout the movement and you should not allow your torso to twist.

We recommend you do quadruped on its own for a few minutes per day, or add it to your current fitness regime.

If you want to develop the movement then the quadruped hip extension which targets your glutes, core and low back further.

How To Do The Quadruped Exercise

  • Start in a table top position (all fours) with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.
  • Move your back in a cat cow position and then find your neutral spine.
  • Gently hover one hand off the ground, keeping the other hand pressing into the ground and your core locked in, and then place it back down and repeat on the other side.
  • Press into both hands, exhale and then slide one leg back along the floor away from you. Keeping your knee as straight as possible.
  • Lift your leg up while pushing it away from you and keeping your spine in a neutral position the whole time, Ensure your other leg is in a vertical position.
  • Place your leg back down and return to a table top position.
  • Alternate on the other leg
  • Next slide your right hand in front of you with your left leg sliding back.
  • Lift your arm and leg up – again maintaining that neutral spine and your  shoulders and pelvis staying still
  • Bring your arm and leg back down while still reaching away
  • Slide them back in and repeat on the other side.

Quadruped Exercise – Top tips

  • Stay strong in your shoulders
    Keep pushing down into the ground so that you stay away from the floor. This will make your arms stronger and keep you out of your wrists
  • Keep your natural curves
    Our spine has three natural curves in it and you want to keep those when you are doing this exercise. Try not to sag in the middle as you are moving. This way you will work those abs more.
  • Keep the wiggle at bay
    Watch the thigh which stays still to see if you are swaying side to side. The less you do that, the more your abs and glutes will work!
  • It’s all in the neck
    Once you have checked your form, lift the back of your head up again to meet gravity. It’s great for posture as we spend so much time looking at our phones.
  • Find your hip range
    Most of us do not have much hip extension so that leg is not coming very far off the ground. As you reach it away, find the point where you want to arch your back and stop. This way your glutes will switch on more and you will feel it a lot less in your back!

Remember, it is all about quality over quantity.


How To Do The Quadruped Hip Extension Exercise

The quadruped hip extension builds strength through the legs with an emphasis on the glutes and hamstrings. It also improves hip mobility and core stability.

How To Do The Quadruped Hip Extension Exercise

  • Just like with the quadruped movement above – begin on the mat on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
  • Flex your ankles, tucking your toes into the floor.
  • Engage your core, drawing your belly button toward your spine, and make sure your back is straight and flat from the base of your pelvis to the top of your head.
  • Shift your weight slightly to the right side, keeping your torso completely stable
  • Press your left foot up toward the ceiling, keeping your knee bent at a 90-degree angle as you fully extend your left hip.
  • From here extend your leg out making sure your torso remains flat and stable
  • Slowly lower your left knee back toward the floor
  • Continue a full round of repetitions to one side before switching to the opposite side.
  • As with the quadruped above feel free to include your arms too for an extra challenge.

Quadruped Exercise Benefits

The quadruped exercise is good for building low back function, as it engages both the core and back muscles at the same time.

Other benefits include:

  • abdominal activation and control
  • hip and shoulder disassociation
  • hip and shoulder stability and strength
  • reduces lower back pain and is regarded as a safe exercise during recovery from a back injury.

A strong core and good spinal stability will help you in everyday tasks whenever you need to bend or twist.

Who Is The Quadruped Exercise Suitable For?

This exercise is suitable for people of all levels and it can be used to prevent injury, align your spine and is an ideal exercise for people with low back concerns, including hypermobility, and it can help to develop good balance and posture.

Who Is The Quadruped Exercise Not Suitable For?

You should not do the quadruped if you have shoulder pain or wrist problems that are aggravated by it. If you have this or currently have / or have had a back injury, it’s best to check with your doctor or physical therapist for your own individual advice and modifications if needed.

Why Do The Quadruped Exercise?

The quadruped teaches you to engage your abdominals and stabilise your lower back while moving your arms and legs – which in turn helps with mobility in many of your daily movements or sporting activities.

As mentioned above, it is an effective exercise that’s suitable for most people but do speak to your doctor before starting any fitness routine if you have any medical concerns.

Alternatively speak to your physio, or clinical Pilates instructor here at Complete Pilates who can create manageable plans to keep you healthy,
before starting any fitness routine.

Education is key:

These blogs are designed to give information to everyone, however, it is important to remember that everyone is different! If you have not seen one of our therapists and have any questions about injuries, what you have read or whether this may be useful to you, please just ask.

At Complete Pilates we would advise you to always speak to your doctor, physiotherapist, or clinical Pilates instructor here at Complete Pilates if you are worried about starting a new exercise regime.
We are more than happy to help anyone and point you in the right direction. Our biggest belief is that education is key. The more you understand about your injury, illness and movement, the more you are likely to improve.