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I don't know about you but when I work out, Jasper is right there with me. He wants to be involved in everything I do. When I pull out the workout bench, he jumps up and gets on it. He thinks it is for him and it is time for his exercises.
I'm super happy to do his exercises but don't always want to do them in the middle of my own workout.
So I've figured out a win win scenario.
I either do his exercises on my break between sets or I get him involved and challenge him to do his exercises at the same time I do mine.
He really loves being involved in my workouts and he gets a workout in at the same time. It doesn't take any extra effort on my part and it's fun.
One of my favorite exercises is the Glute Bridge or Hip Thrust. It is super effective at strengthening the glutes, hamstrings and core while opening the hips and releasing the back. It can be done in many different positions and is kind on the knees.
This is close to a full body exercise for the human. The same is true for the dog crawl. Jasper has to crawl underneath me while I hold the bridge.
This is very challenging for his core strength, for limb mobility and flexibility as well as strength.
On top of that, his proprioception is challenged. He has to learn where is his body is at in space so that he does not bump into me as he crawls through.
For this reason, it is important that your initial set up is done with the size of your dog in mind. Too high, there is no challenge, too low and the chance of injury or failure could result.
We always want to set our dogs up for success. Plan out your exercise ahead of time. Teach your dog to go under an object first so you know they can perform the skill successfully.
In this blog post, I teach you how to do the glute bridge first, then how to incorporate the dog crawl into the exercise.
In the first video, I show you the best set up and how to perform the exercise yourself. In the second video, I show you the glute bridge exercise with the dog crawl added in. Then in the third video, I show how to select the best version of glute bridge for the size of your dog.
Getting into Position: Slide down the bench until your shoulder blades are at the edge of the bench. It should be a comfortable position on your spine. Your feet should be hip distance apart and your shins should be vertical. Your chin should be tucked - look towards your knees. You can support the weight of your head with one hand if necessary.
Performing the Exercise - Human Only: Drop your hips/pelvis towards the floor, stopping about halfway down. Squeeze your butt cheeks together and feel as if you are trying to pull the top of your butt to the bottom of your butt. As you squeeze, you will push your pelvis upwards. You raise your pelvis to a glute engaged position, as soon as you have squeezed as much as you can you stop. As you lift your pelvis, simultaneously pull your hip bones towards your rib cage and engage your belly. Finally, ensure your rib cage is soft throughout the movement. I also like to think of squeezing a ball between my knees which helps to engage my core.
Things To Note: Dropping your bum to the floor will not make the exercise harder as the active range for the glutes is at the top of the movement. Do not push your pelvis up as high as you can go for the sake of it, just go to a glute engaged position. The movement is not about how high you can go but about getting good glute engagement.
Performing the Exercise - Human & Dog Together: To complete the glute bridge exercise with your dog, you have a couple of options. Initially, when you're both still learning, my suggestion is to keep it simple. Have some treats (or favorite toy) in your hand. Bring your hand with the treat underneath you on one side of your body. Call the dog's attention to the treat. When they start to follow the treat, draw your hand under your body so they follow.
Once they seem to be past their point of no return, toss the treat a few feet beyond yourself. The dog will crawl under you to retrieve the treat. Once they've retrieved the treat/toy, they should look to you for what is next. You bring the treat to their attention and draw them under you again.
I try to go back and forth but sometimes Jasper chooses to go from the same side. I don't worry too much about it. Sometimes he cheats and runs around me instead of going under. Again, I don't worry too much about it. If he chooses to not go underneath I do not pressure him to do so. For this entire time, you are just holding the glute bridge position. You are not moving, just keeping your glutes and core engaged. It's great work!
Once you feel like you are both comfortable with the exercise, you can add movement to the glute bridge. Once your dog has crawled through, you can start lowering and lifting your pelvis while the dog retrieves the treat. You hold the position while the dog crawls through and then continue with the movement while they do the retrieve. I would suggest 12-15 reps for you and about 4-6 crawls through for the dog. Always, work with the dog in front of you and work at their level. Anytime we workout with our dogs, it should be a rewarding, fun experience that builds on your relationship.
Choosing the Best Glute Bridge Version for You & Your Dog
The height of your bench should place your body parallel to the floor with your shins vertical. If you have a very tall dog, a higher bench is okay when you are working with the dog but for your maximum benefit, you may choose a lower bench when performing the exercise without a dog. If you have a small dog, you can do a glute bridge from the floor. The set up is the same, except you will lift your butt from the floor. If you have a medium sized dog, choose a slightly lower bench or put your feet up on a box. Get creative and have fun with it.
Disclaimer: All movement challenges should be done safely and without risk to the dog or human. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on this website. Never rely on information on this website in place of seeking professional medical advice.
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