How To Do a Dead Bug Exercise?



What is a dead bug exercise?

The dead bug is an exercise used for strengthening the core muscles, especially those with the role of stabilization of the body. It is easy for beginners to do; although it does require some coordination, it can also be modified into even easier versions.

Which muscles are used when performing a dead bug exercise?

Some of the more popular core exercises, such as sit-ups, crunches, and planks, target more the core muscles on the surface.

However, a dead bug is a bit different because it targets the deeper core muscle groups, such as the transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, erector spinae, rectus abdominis, and stabilization muscles in order to build core strength.

What are the benefits of a dead bug exercise?

The dead bug is a very beneficial beginner-friendly exercise that can help you get used to contra-lateral limb extension while strengthening and engaging your core.

Some of the main benefits of a dead bug exercise include:

-Core Strength and Better Posture

Performing dead bug  regularly will strengthen your core that will help you to keep good posture.

-Reduced Risk of Low-back Injury

The dead bug exercises engages the deep, stabilizing muscles of your core, low back, and hips, which prevents your back from twisting or arching. 

-Improves Coordination

The dead bug exercise improves side-to-side coordination that can effectively transfer to everyday life and athletic performance.

How to do a dead bug exercise?

In order to be effective, the dead bug exercise has to be performed with proper form, avoiding poor form that takes away from the effectiveness of the exercise.

Here is how to do a dead bug exercise:

  1. Lie on the ground (a padded mat, exercise mat, or carpet will be the most comfortable for your back) and extend your arms straight over your chest. Make sure to keep a neutral spine and arms extended.
  2. Bend your hips and place your knees above them and lift your feet from the ground. Your arms and thighs should be parallel, as your calves with the ground. This is the starting position.
  3. Engage your core, keeping your lower back on the mat at all times. Make sure you are keeping your spine steady and neutral throughout the exercise.
  4. Keep your right arm and left leg in the starting position while you slowly lower your left arm backward and extend your right knee and hip at the same time, putting your heel toward the floor.
    Make sure your movements are slow and steady and pay attention to your breathing. Avoid any twisting or movement of your hips and abs while you are doing this exercise – your deep core should be doing all the work and staying engaged at all times. Stop the movement just before your leg and opposite arm touches the ground; this will keep your muscles under tension.
  5. Return your right leg and your left arm to their starting positions. Avoid just flailing your arms and legs around; the point of the exercise is to perform it well, not fast. 
  6. Do the same movement with opposite extremities
  7. Make sure to do the same number of repetitions on each opposite arm and leg.

Variations of a dead bug exercise

Single Limb Variation

Changing the dead bugs according to your fitness level is very easy–you simply lower the number of limbs you are using while performing this exercise.

This basically means that, if you find it challenging to avoid arching when performing the movement, try moving one extremity at a time rather than moving the opposite leg and arm simultaneously.

Dead Bug with Resistance Band

This variation will add a bit more difficulty to dead bugs by using the resistance band.

You can place a mini band around your feet to perform the exercise or you can use a longer band and anchor it behind your head or to the side depending on the variation, while holding it with hand.

You can even use them both to make it really challenging.

Mistakes/Safety Tips

The most common mistake with the dead bug exercise is using speed and momentum to power through the set. Going fast will cause your torso to start shifting, which means giving up on that perfect stabilization of your core. The dead bug is all about going slow and steady. 

Another common mistake is allowing the lower back to arch and lift off the floor. This often happens due to not engaging your core enough or not having it strong enough for proper form.

If you notice this happening, reduce the range of motion of your extensions. When you feel your low back lifting off the ground, bring your limbs back into starting position.  You can also try and master the single limb variation first to prepare your body for the full version.

Related Questions:

How many dead bugs should I do?

If you are starting with the dead bug exercise, it is recommended to do one to three sets of 5 to 10 repetitions on each side. Then, once you feel like doing a few sets is not challenging anymore, or you feel like you have mastered the dead bug, you can progress to more advanced variations.

Will dead bug give you abs?

The dead bug exercise is one of the most ab-focused core exercises, targeting mainly your deep core muscles and improving your core strength, as well as improving your core and spinal stability. It is best to combine it with other core exercises for best results and well toned abs.

Can you do dead bugs with weights like other core exercises?

Yes! If you want to make the dead bug movement a bit more challenging and really feel the burn in your deep core muscles, you can add weight into the mix. Weighted dead bugs movement can be performed with dumbbells, kettlebells, or ankle weights.

Can I do dead bug every day?

Yes, the dead bug movement is a beginner-friendly exercise that can be performed daily with other exercises.