bird dog core exercise on all fours

5 Simple Core Exercises on All Fours

Core exercises can be done in a variety of ways. They can be done laying down or standing up or plank style. These are five core exercises on all fours, which means on your hands and knees.  This position will create a stability challenge rather than just laying on your back and hoping you activate enough core. Core exercises on all fours are the most interesting and challenging to me. I am not a fan of laying down for crunches.  SO boring. 

Core Exercises on All Fours

This position is actually called “tabletop”, I believe, which sounds better than all fours. So, you need to have your body like a tabletop in which you could set things on without tipping over. That’s hard to do so we’ll get as close as we can. The wrists need to be under the shoulders and the hips under the knees. The core also needs to be “engaged” meaning that it should be turned on and the belly button pulled in to keep the back straight. No cat cow exercises here (though a good one). This will create more stability in the all fours position. 

These are a few simple core exercises on all fours that are also effective at strengthening and stablizing. If you have wrist issues, you may need to stick with laying down or standing core exercises. Those knees bothering you? Try putting some padding like a blanket or do this on a soft surface. If they still bother you, stick with standing or laying exercises.

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What you’ll need:

Nothing. Maybe a soft floor. I recommend a yoga mat so no slipping happens.

How much? 

That’s always the question that gets asked. It doesn’t matter how much, any amount is great. I will give you a number to start at, a very simple number, and you can listen to your body and increase from there. It is important to do both sides equally.

Bird Dog Crunch

This is the classic bird dog core exercise on all fours that you probably see everywhere. There’s a good reason for that. It is one of the best neutral core exercises for stability that is safe for almost anyone and great for back pain and posture gains.

  • Start on all fours
  • Raise left arm straight out in line with the spine as best you can
  • Raise right leg out 
  • Body should create a straight line with neck in line with rest of spine
  • Attempt to touch left elbow to right knee (probably won’t) by crunching in
  • Return to starting position

Try to start with 5 on each side at a time and work up from there.  Alternatively, hold the position with the arm and leg out for 5 seconds at a time. 

bird dog core exercise on all fours bird dog core exercise on all fours

Over And Under

This may not look like much but it takes core stability to do it. This is also one where the more you engage your core, the more you’ll get out of it.

  • Start on all fours
  • Reach the right arm up to the ceiling following with your gaze
  • Reach the right arm under the body and through, keeping core engaged
  • Return to position.

Again, start with 5 at a time on each side.

over and under core exercise on all fours over and under core exercise on all fours

Knee Lift

This will certainly activate the core in a way that a plank hadn’t yet. 

  • Start on all fours
  • Lift both knees off the ground using core
  • That’s it!

Start with holding for 5 seconds at a time and repeat as ability allows.

knee life core exercise on all fours

Knee Lift Twist

This core exercise is challenging. Please don’t try this if you have back problems. We’re working those obliques (side of abdominals) along with pretty much every part because it’s a balance challenge as well as strength. My face tells all and feet do weird things. 

  • Start on all fours 
  • Similar to knee lift, lift knees up
  • Twist knees to right and then twist to left
  • Make sure the spine stays relatively stable despite the twist

Start with 5 each side.

knee lift twist core exercise on all fours


Awkward Airplane

I have no idea what this exercise is actually called but it’s one of my favorites. (Edit: Thanks to input from a fellow reader, this is awkward airplane) This is more for someone who feels extra stable. It is challenging. My hip is clearly not perfectly in line either so that happens. For this exercise, it doesn’t matter how far the arm or leg goes out. It could only go five or ten degrees out before your feel your position falter and it’ll be fine. You’ll feel it. It’s not meant to be completely out to the sides. It’s meant to challenge your stability and be a slow moving exercise

  • Start as you would in bird dog with opposite arm and leg out 
  • Take the left arm and slowly move it left without dropping it down only as far as your position stays stable
  • At the same time, move the right leg out, staying in line best you can
  • It’s like you’re creating a circle from the top
  • Return to start, which is bird dog position 

Start with 5 each side. If you’re just testing it out, do one or two. 

crazy bird dog exercise on all fours

Here’s another angle to show better what is being done.

crazy bird dog core exercise on all fours


Need more? Use these core exercises on all fours to go with my sitting down Lean Lazy Arms and even better, my laying down Lean Lazy Legs exercises. 


core exercises on all fours

Fresh Fitness: Try core exercises on all fours for a little change up from the usual routine to challenge core stability. 


Let's get healthy together!


  • Nubra

    August 28, 2023

    Found this today, August 28, 2023. Very helpful modifications fo some of the core exercises I was doing. THANKS for posting this Mindy!

  • José Partida

    February 3, 2020

    Akward Airplane is the name of the unknown exercise.

  • L

    December 11, 2017

    Love a good core excercise!


    December 5, 2017

    YES! These are great core moves! I am definitely going to incorporate them into my work out routines – thanks!

  • Dia

    December 4, 2017

    I love the over and under. I feel like it’s really helped me right out some of the stress I carry in my back.Thanks for sharing these.

    • Mindy Voet

      December 5, 2017

      Yes, that’s my favorite too! I really helps for when we sit for so long with slouched backs too.

  • Marlynn | UrbanBlissLife

    December 4, 2017

    I’ll have to try some of these. Perfect timing for all of the holiday goodies!

    • Mindy Voet

      December 5, 2017

      Great! It makes it a little easier when we are feeling sluggish from holiday treats!

  • Gunjan

    December 4, 2017

    This is what exactly I was looking for. I finally got some solid tips on exercising on four legs.

    • Mindy Voet

      December 5, 2017

      Great to hear. It makes it a little different from the typical core routine.

  • Willow

    December 4, 2017

    These are great core exercises! Some of these are similar to what I do in my daily yoga routine.

  • ruthieridley

    December 4, 2017

    These look good!! I need to focus on my core a lot more


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