Want to move and look better?
Start adding Dead Bugs to your ab workout.
While Dead Bugs aren't the sexiest exercise (both in their name and their appearance), they're exactly the type of core work most people need more of. They get their funny name because when you perform them, you look like a dead bug lying on its back with its legs in the air.
But despite its strange name, the exercise is neither complicated nor crazy.
Popularized largely due to research of Dr. Stuart McGill, the Dead Bug produces a killer ab burn while also training you to avoid some common movement deficiencies.
It's essentially an "anti-extension" exercise where you must brace your abdominal muscles to prevent your lower back from arching as you extend your arms and legs from a supine position.
That may sound simple, but many people struggle with this movement pattern, which puts dangerous stress on their spine.
Athletes often cannot move their hips without engaging their lower back muscles, or they can't raise their arms overhead without arching their backs and sticking their ribs out.
Not only do these sort of deficiencies increase your risk of injury, but they also make many movements less efficient and less explosive. The Dead Bug fixes these issues by teaching you to isolate movement at the hips and shoulders without moving your spine.
Improving this movement pattern is important because it protects your spine from movements it was not designed to handle. There's a reason athletes like J.J. Watt make Dead Bugs a pivotal part of their routine.
How to Perform Dead Bugs
- Lie on your back with your arms extended in front of your shoulders.
- Bend your hips and knees to a 90-degree angle.
- Tighten your abs and press your lower back into the floor.
- Take a deep breath in.
- As you exhale, slowly extend your left leg toward the floor and bring your right arm overhead. Keep your abs tight and don't let your lower back arch.
- Slowly return your arm and leg to the starting position.
- Repeat with your opposite arm and leg. Continue alternating.
- You can wedge a Swiss ball between your arms and legs to up the challenge. If you do so, aim to prevent the ball from moving as you progress through the movement.