What is Dead Bug Exercise? Learn its benefits and steps to do it properly

What is Dead Bug Exercise? Learn its benefits and steps to do it properly

Dead Bug exercise

Core exercises like the dead bug exercise is an essential part of any fitness program. These exercises can yield various health benefits and give you a better shape.

The area which is referred to as the core is the midsection of the body and it includes all the muscles in the front, sides, and back. It involves the Traverse Abdominis (TVA), lower lats, and the Erector Spinae Obliques. In addition, it works as stabilizers for the body. If the core is weak, we could develop pains in our back and waistlines. Keeping the core muscles strong can improve our posture and give more strength to other physical exercises.

Nowadays, there is a big push for core training in various fitness centers. Why is it becoming a hit recently?

The majority of the population has eight-hour work each day, plus the two hours of driving on a traffic so basically, there’s a lot of sitting. Prolonged sitting without any exercise can weaken the muscles in the midsection.

Unlike the kind of lifestyle thousand of years ago, our forefathers didn’t need to have core training since they work from sunrise to sunset doing laborious work at the field.

Thus, the fitness industry boomed to show the people that we need to keep our bodies strong despite sitting for long hours each day. Keeping the core strength will yield powerful body, according to Body-Building.

Some of the core exercises today are crunches, planks, and kicks. Another core exercise that is trending today is what they call as the ‘dead bug exercise’. In this article, we will discuss what is a dead bug exercise, what are its benefits, and how to do it properly.

What is a Dead Bug Exercise

One core-building activity is the ‘dead bug exercise.’ Its name was derived from a dead bug lying on its back with its legs in the air. This is the same image when you perform the exercise. Despite its name, the exercise is simple. It is usually used in Pilate workouts according to Stack.com and it is popular among beginners and professionals.

The way we train and do the core exercises changed in the past years. Trainers believe that it is because of the research made by Dr. Stuart McGill. He said that the spike of core exercises is due to the need to train the abdominals rather than the trunk. Abdominal exercises can resist extension and protect the lower back.

Moreover, there are athletes who cannot raise their arms above their head without putting their ribs out or they cannot move their hips without moving their lower back muscles. The dead bug exercise can fix these issues by teaching you to move your hips and shoulders without moving the spine. This can protect your spine and avoid it from doing the movements which it is not designed to handle.

The dead bug is a great exercise that you should consider immediately however, it is not the only core training that you should perform. You need to train based on how your body was designed to function and ultimately you’ll become a better athlete.

Benefits of Dead Bug Exercise

There are various benefits of doing the dead bug exercise, according to Colorado Community Media. First, it improves balance and stability. It can improve the control on the spine and the posture while the body is in motion or if it is still. In addition, the dead bug exercise can help stabilize the pelvis, spine, and ribs to be able to withstand force.

Second, core exercises don’t require expensive tools or gym membership. You can do this at your home or any place you want to.

Next, it can prevent injury. Doing core exercises can strengthen the torso, tighten/ flatten the tummy, and improve the transfer of power to and from the extremities. Lastly, it can enhance the neuromuscular efficiency and improve other bodily functions, according to Colorado Community Media.

Muscles Involved in Dead Bug Exercise

The main muscle worked in this exercise is the abdominal muscles. This muscle can be found between the pelvis and the chest. There are three layers of muscles that can be found in our abdomen and these are internal oblique, external oblique, and transverse abdominal.

The abdomen consists of organs used by the body for digestion. It has the digestive tract such as the small and large intestines, stomach, appendix, liver, bladder and urinary systems such as ureters and kidney. Developing your abdominal muscles is important to build not only 6-pack abs but also to have a stable and upright core. It can manage lower back pain, improve balance and stability, avoid injuries, and overall gain easier activities daily.

The dead bug exercises can also work the diaphragm, pelvic floor, and multifidus muscle. The multifidus muscle is one of the smallest muscles in our body which is located in the lower spine. The Multifidus muscle supports our spine and keeps it straight, according to Core Concepts. 

Meanwhile, the diaphragm is a muscle that is located between the chest and the abdomen. This muscle plays a vital role in respiration. On the other hand, the pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that protect the bladder, uterus, and the womb.

How to do the Dead Bug Exercise

The Dead Bug exercise is easy to perform and you don’t need expensive gym equipment to do this. You can even do it inside your home with the mats on the floor.

In addition, the dead bug exercises have many variations. These are some of them:

Dead Bug Arms Only

Photo from Youtube, TrainWithPeaks

In the performance of dead bug exercise, it is best to have a mat or a carpeted floor. The first variation to try is the arms only which is a low-intensity exercise.

To do this, first, lie straight on your back. Next, place your feet on the floor and bend it at 90-degree position. Then, suspend your legs in the air while bending. Make sure to place your arms down on the sides. Contract your abdominal muscles and press your back on the floor. Extend your arms straight upwards above your head with your fingers pointing at the ceiling.

Then, slowly return your right arm back to the floor behind your head until it is one inch from the floor. Next, slowly do the same on your left arm. Return both arms to starting position and repeat the movement for 10 repetitions, 3 sets, and taking one-minute rest in between each set.

Dead Bug Legs Only

Photo from FitDaily.com

Another dead bug exercise variation to do is with your legs only. This is a low-intensity exercise just like the arms only variation. The only difference is you’ll be using your legs instead of your arm throughout the routine.

To do this, lie straight on your back and contract your abs. Then, lift your right foot slowly and hold it in the air for five seconds. Slowly return your foot to the floor and do the same pattern on your left foot. Start again with your right foot and alternate each foot.

Do it for 10 repetitions, 3 sets, and have a one-minute break in between each set.

Dead Bug Arms And Legs

In the dead bug exercise, you can also do it with both your legs and arms. This exercise is more intense and it will require body coordination in comparison with other variations.

To do this, lie straight on the floor. Next, tighten your abs and press your lower back on the floor. Then, extend your right leg and left arm above the floor and hold it for five seconds in the air. Return your left arm and right leg and do the same routine to your left leg and right arm. Make sure that you do it slowly and breathe during the entire exercise.

Put your arms and legs in starting position and repeat the pattern. Do this for 10 repetitions, 3 sets, with a one-minute break in between each set.

Wall Assisted Dead bug 

Photo from Fitness Doctrine

Another variation to do is by pushing against the wall. To do this, lie on your back. Then, put both your arms above your head and put it against the wall. Make sure that your arms are straight and it is pushing the wall.

Next, bend your knees and legs to 90-degree position. Then, slowly bend one knee in the air, hold it for five seconds, and push it back to the floor. Do this exercise on the other leg.

Do this for 10 repetitions, 3 sets, with a 30-second break in between each set.

Dead Bug with Pallof Press

Photo from CAM Sports Performance Training

This variation doesn’t require any equipment. To do this, lie on your back and bend your knees in 90-degree position. Next, put your arms in the air above your chest. Press your hands against each other and hold it in the air. Then, paddle your legs starting with the right foot. Make sure that you hold each leg for five seconds in the air. Do this alternately on each leg. Do the routine for 10 repetitions, 3 sets, with thirty-second break in between each set.

Dead Bug With Stability Ball

Photo from Pinterest

If you have a stability ball in your house, then you can also perform the dead bug exercise. This is an advanced routine which can be performed by both men and women.

To do this, lie on the floor, place your feet flat on the floor while you bend your knees. Next, hold the stability ball with both your hands and elbows straight in front of your chest.

Tighten your abdominal muscles and press your back against the floor. Next, raise the ball above your chest and raise your legs too. Hold the ball and your legs for five seconds and return to the starting position.

Next, raise your arms with the ball and also your legs in the air. Shift the ball to your legs and let your legs grasp it. Hold it for five seconds. Next, grasp the ball with your hands and get back to starting position.

Repeat this routine for 10 repetitions, 2 sets, with a one-minute break in between. You can do as many sets as you want to depend on your body condition.

Anti-extension dead bug

Photo from Anchor Forge, Youtube

Another variation that will use a gym equipment is the anti-extension dead bug. This exercise will require using a band tied on a pole.

To do this, lie on your back on the floor. Next, extend your arms above your head and bend your legs and knees to a 90-degree position.

Grab the band with your arms and stretch it on your chest. Do this while your abdominal muscles are tight. Repeat the exercise for 10 repetitions, 3 sets, with thirty seconds break in between each set.

Banded dead bug 

Photo from LaVack Fitness, Youtube

You can also tie your band in your legs and pull it with your arms. To do this, lie on your back, bend your knees and your legs to 90-degree position. Next, tie the band on your right leg and lift both your legs in the air but make sure that you’re still bending your legs. Put both of your arms in the air and with your left arm, pull the band on your right leg. Do this for 10 repetitions and switch legs.

Kettlebell pull-over dead bug

Photo from Youtube

Another dead bug routine is through the use of kettlebell or a dumbbell. This exercise requires more stress and effort unlike the other variations of dead bug exercise.

To do this, lie flat on your back. Bend your knees in a 90-degree position and lift it both in the air. Next, put your arms above your head and grab the kettle bell or the dumbbell. Grab it and hold it tightly so it won’t fall on your face.

Then, slowly lift the kettle bell or the dumbbell in the air with your both arms and hold it above your head for five seconds. Then, return your arms to the starting position. Your legs must be in bending position and lifted in the air throughout the entire routine. Do this routine for 10 repetitions for 2 sets. Make sure that you breathe properly and have one-minute rest in between each set.


In sum, the dead bug exercise is a revolutionary exercise designed to train the core and bring multiple benefits to the body. One can perform it inside their homes without any expensive machines or gym equipment to use. There are many variations of dead bug exercise and you just have to use your imagination to do it.

If you wish to build your core, it is advisable to seek professional help first so your body can be assessed. This will protect you from any injuries throughout the entire session. If the gym experts have approved your exercises, then you can start with dead bug exercises. The name is crazy yet the benefits it brings are numerous.