It might be tragic when you see a beetle or a bug lying on its back, desperate to turn over, with its legs up in the air and flailing wildly, but for a human this is a great position to be in. The Dead Bug exercise tones and shapes the body in wonderful ways!
Be the Bug
You don’t have to be an insect to get the benefits of the Dead Bug. This exercise is simple to do and good for many different parts of the body.
Here’s how to perform the Dead Bug exercise.
- Lie on your back on a mat, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Engage your core, then raise your legs while still bent so that the knees are hovering over the hips. Bring both arms up so that they are half way over your head.
- Straighten one leg while moving the opposite arm up. Don’t let the leg touch the floor.
- Come back to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
- Maintain a tight core throughout all movements.
This movement is more challenging that it seems at first, as the core is engaged throughout.
History of the Bug
The Dead Bug exercise was originally part of the Pilates series of movements. Keep in mind that Pilates focuses on strengthening the core and elongating the body. All body movements stretch out from the core, so strengthening and harnessing the core muscles is a perfect way to facilitate ease of motion in all areas of life.
While there is no miraculous movement that will give you perfect abs, the Dead Bug is a potent exercise that can help to improve overall abdominal strength. It’s become a favorite of athletes and Cross Fit because it’s simple and does not put additional strain on the back.
Deep Into the Core
A major benefit of the Dead Bug is that it builds muscle deep into the core. The diaphragm, the pelvic floor, the transverse abdominis, and the multifidus. These muscles are important for long term health, not just for getting six-pack abs. Building these deep core muscles also helps to stabilize the spine, preventing back pain and increasing range of motion.
Raising the arms overhead without putting an unnecessary arch in the lower back is important because it indicates positive shoulder mobility. Almost all of the body’s movement comes through the core. Because the Dead Bug engages the shoulder joints while engaging the abs, it improves spinal stability in conjunction with shoulder motion. That’s a powerful combination, and it helps you to connect the two and improve both areas of the body.
There are a few variations on the Dead Bug that scale up or scale down the challenge.
- Eliminate the upper body movement, focusing on the lower body only. With time and practice, you’ll be able to re-engage the upper body and do the full version of the exercise.
- Add sets and reps to extend the exercise.
- Add light dumbbells to increase the challenge.
This dynamic exercise move is at home either in the warm up or as an ab workout all on its own. While the name may be off-putting, the results are both tempting and within reach!