Exercises You Should Be Doing: Birddog With Band RNT

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I have two words for you: Jet Lagged.

After three movies, a Twin Peaks marathon (because, why not?) and far too many Tim Tams to count1,Lisa and I made it back to Boston from Sydney after a marathon 27 hour travel extravaganza.

We landed at Logan at 7 PM, were in our apartment by 8, and in bed by 9.

Not too shabby, right?

Except now I’m on “Sydney time” and was wide awake at 2:30 AM this morning. I tried to fall back asleep, but decided it was a pointless endeavor and opted to get up and tackle my inbox and catch up on some programs I needed to write.

I have to apologize to the clients who’s programs I wrote at 4AM. I was cranky, which may explain the inordinate amount of squatting you’re doing this month. Sorry (but not sorry).

Anyhoo: as much as I’d like to sit here and wax poetic about my Aussie trip, I know this isn’t the section where people want to read about that.2

SIDE-NOTE: HERE’s a nice write-up about my workshop in Ballina, though.

I’m still easing my way back to my regular schedule. Or as Lisa would put it, “hatching.” To that end, I’m going to keep things simple today and share a nice birddog variation. Because, you know, people go bat-shit crazy for birddogs.

(Emphasis on the slight exaggeration)

Birddog With Band RNT


Who Did I Steal It From: Brett Jones

What Does It Do: Birddogs aren’t anything new (or exciting). Watching paint dry, or grass grow, or an episode of Downton Abbey is Mardi Gras compared to birddogs.

That being said, any fitness professional would be remiss not to recognize they’re an integral drill/exercise that provide a lot of bang for our “core-training-motor-lumbo-pelvic-hip-control-OMG-BIRDDOGS-ARE-THE-SHIT buck.”

Not only that, birddogs are an excellent way to train rotary stability in addition to helping people learn to dissociate their hips from their lumbar spine. I.e., learning to gain movement from the hips and NOT the lower back.

Besides, if Dr. Stuart McGill says to do birddogs, we all better sure as shit do them!

In terms of this particular iteration, the band helps to kick in a little RNT (Reactive Neuromuscular Training) action which, by and large, helps the trainee to better perform the movement.

Speaking candidly: most people BUTCHER birddogs. To the point where their performance and execution is more counterproductive than helpful, often feeding into many of the mechanisms that cause one’s back pain in the first place.

I like using the band because it instantly gives the trainee feedback which forces him or her to clean up their technique.

Key Coaching Cues: using a PVC stick is fine (where you lie it lengthwise and tell the person to keep three points of contact: back of head, between shoulder blades, as well as their sacrum), and I’ve seen some trainers and coaches opt for placing a foam roller on the lower back telling their athlete or client to “balance” it during their set.

I don’t like this latter approach. I find that far too many people end up “balancing” the foam roller by defaulting into lumbar hyperextension, which defeats the purpose of the drill in the first place (which is to try to ensure spinal “neutral” throughout the set).

Adding the band does a few things:

1. It provides a very slight resistance, almost “feeding” the dysfunction, so the trainee is better suited to counteract it.

NOTE: don’t be a hero and be too aggressive with the band selection. As you can see in the video above all I’m using is a 1/2 inch “easy” band.  Save the max effort work for squats and deadlifts chief.

2. The band also forces people to SLOW the EFF DOWN and think about what they’re doing. This isn’t an exercise you want to rush in the first place; so anything that allows me to slow people down is gravy in my book.

3. I also find the band allows for a little diversity. I can regress the exercise as needed and have people ONLY perform with the legs moving or the arms; and the resistance of the band makes it easier to use the cue “get and keep your spine long.

4. Lastly, the band encourages more anterior core activation which helps to keep things in line, literally. Many will fall into anterior pelvic tilt on this exercise – a big no no – and the band will encourage more posterior pelvic tilt and help to maintain neutral.

Use these as part of an extended warm-up or as a “filler” exercise for sets of 5-8 repetitions per side. Quality reps are paramount!

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. Like, WTF!? Why have I never heard of these before? My buddy, Andy Morgan, tipped me off on these while in Australia and pretty much demanded that I find them and give them a try. You know that scene in the movie Old School when Will Ferrel’s character, Frank the Tank, funnels a beer and follows that with an emphatic “it tastes so good. Once it hits your lips, it tastes so good!”? Well that was Lisa and I when we opened our first package of Tim Tams. Thanks Andy. Asshole.

  2. However, if you’re so inclined, you can do so HERE (<—- Lisa wrote an amazing daily blog extolling on our exploits).

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