Dead bug exercise for core: How to do and benefits


Move over crunches and try the dead bug exercise for strong core. Here’s how to do this core exercise which is beginner-friendly.

When we think of core exercises, crunches and planks come to our mind but these are not the only exercises that help you tone your body. You must add the dead bug exercise to the list, as it can give you a strong core! It not only targets the muscles in your abdomen but also your lower back and pelvic region. The dead bug exercise is known for its ability to improve core stability and enhance overall strength. It is a beginner-friendly exercise. So, even if you have not been a regular in the gym, you can give it a shot. Read on to learn how to do the dead bug exercise that will strengthen your core.

What is the dead bug exercise?

Dead bug exercise is an effective exercise for strengthening the core. It works the hip flexors, lower back and abdominal muscles is the dead bug. It’s a well-liked option for enhancing coordination, stability, and core strength, says bodybuilder and fitness trainer Chitharesh Natesan. The exercise gets its peculiar name from the way it resembles a dead bug lying on its back, with your arms and legs extended upward.

Woman doing ab exercises
The dead bug is an effective core exercise. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

How to do the dead bug exercise?

There are some common mistakes people make while doing this exercise. One of the most common is arching the lower back off the ground and craning the neck up more than it’s needed. This can lead to pain.

To perform it correctly, do the following:

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  • Lie down on your back with your arms aimed at the ceiling and your legs up. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Lower your right arm and left leg toward the floor without allowing them to touch the ground.
  • Go back to the first position and repeat on the other side.
  • Alternate sides, but do it in a controlled manner.

How it help strengthen the core?

This exercise requires the abdominal muscles to be engaged in order to keep balance when moving the arms and legs, so this helps strengthen the core. Power as well as balance are enhanced by a fast-paced workout that tests the ability of the core muscles to cooperate, explains the expert.

What are the benefits of dead bug exercise?

This exercise is an effective core-strengthening exercise that targets the muscles in the abdomen, lower back and pelvic region.

Other benefits of this exercise include:

  • Improves posture and spinal stability.
  • Enhances hip flexor strength and flexibility.
  • Activates deep core muscles.
  • Reduces risk of lower back pain.

It is widely used in fitness routines, physical therapy and rehabilitation programmes to improve core stability and reduce the risk of lower back pain.

Tips for beginners

It is a beginner-friendly exercise, but there are a few things beginners should keep in mind.

  • Start with a small range of motion to maintain control.
  • Focus on proper form and technique rather than speed.
  • Make sure you engage your core muscles while doing the exercise.
  • If you experience lower back discomfort, reduce the range of motion or consult with a fitness professional.

Depending on your level of fitness, the number of reps can change, says Natesan. Novices can begin with 8 to 10 repetitions on each side and increase progressively as they gain comfort.

Woman working out
Try different variations of the dead bug exercise. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the variations of the dead bug exercise?

To keep it interesting, you can try the following variations of the this core-strengthening exercise.

1. Weighted dead bug

  • Hold a light dumbbell or medicine ball in your hands while performing the exercise.
  • This adds resistance and increases the challenge to your core muscles.

2. Extended limb dead bug

  • Instead of keeping your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, fully extend your legs.
  • Lower one arm and the opposite leg toward the ground and return to the starting position.

This variation increases the lever length, intensifying the workout for your core, says the expert.

3. Bent-knee dead bug with stability ball

  • Place a stability ball between your knees while performing the exercise.
  • Squeeze the ball with your knees, adding an extra element of stability and engaging inner thigh muscles.

The dead bug exercise is very versatile, so you can also make it a part of an active warmup before you go for lifting weights.


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