Dead Bug

Let others know!

Dead bug Ab Exercise

Dead Bug is the ab exercise people experiencing issues with lower back should consider putting in their ab routine along with ab exercises such as exercise ball crunch or reverse crunches. This exercise allows to strengthen abdominal muscles and all the front side of your core while minimizing the pressure on your low back if done correctly.

This exercise can help to improve the overextended posture or excessive anterior pelvic tilt that can be a root of extension based back pain and can manifest into more profound back issues. Use this exercise to strengthen your abs and favour the proper posture.

Main Target: Abdominals
Equipment needed: none

How To Do Dead Bug Exercise Correctly

The following steps will describe how to perform this ab exercise correctly to get the most of it.

Step 1: Get In a Starting Position

Lay flat on your back with your hands extended above you toward the ceiling. Bend your knees in 90 degree angle and raise your thighs until they are perpendicular to the floor. Now deeply exhale and embrace your abs to bring your ribcage down and flatten you back onto the floor. You shouldn’t be able to fit your hand in between the floor and your lumbar spine. Hold this position throughout the whole exercise.

Step 2: Begin the Exercise

To initiate the exercise slowly lower the right arm and the left leg down to the floor simultaneously. Lower them down until just before the lower back starts to rise off the ground (starts to arch). On your way down exhale all the air out of your lungs forcefully. Then slowly return to the starting position while inhaling. Alternating sides and continue the movement for specific number of repetitions or a certain period of time.

The most important thing is to maintain abdominal hollowing and the position of your lumbar and pelvis throughout the whole exercise.

Different Variations, Different Levels of Difficulty

You can perform the Dead Bug exercise in many different variations. Here are the progressions starting from less to more difficult: lower down one arm, both arms, one leg, one leg and one arm simultaneously, both legs, both legs and both arms.

You can also modify the difficulty of the exercise by controlling how close you lower your legs and arms to the floor. If you go all the way down, you can tap the floor, but don’t rest your legs and arms on the floor.

Depending on your current fitness level choose the most appropriate variation. While the exercise should be enough challenging, the correct form is cruical.

If you feel your lower back starts to arch or come off the ground, that’s the indicator you need to regress the difficulty. Otherwise you defeat the purpose of the entire exercise.

Will Dead Bug Exercise be Beneficial For You?

There is an easy way to find that out. All you have to do is to perform leg lowering test. Here’s how to do it.

Get in the starting position of Dead Bug exercise. Fold your arms in front of your body in the “genie” position and straighten your legs so they are perpendicular to your torso. Now slowly lower your legs down to the floor with a tempo that allows them to reach the ground after 10 seconds. If your lower back starts to arch then it’s an indicator that your abs should use strengthening and this exercise can be beneficial for you.

Extra Tips For Dead Bug:

  • Lower back should be pressed flat against the floor at all times. You shouldn’t be able to fit your hand in between the floor and the low back.
  • If you lower back arches, choose the less difficult variation of the exercise.
  • Perform the exercise slowly.
  • Focus on correct breathing. Exhale air from lungs fully before you return to the starting position.
  • Raise your arms to discourage your abdominal muscles from crunching and your upper back from lifting of off the floor.

Common Mistakes:

  • Arched lower back.
  • Exercise done too fast.
  • No focus on correct breathing.

Dead Bug Video Demonstration:

About Matiss Bartulis

Sweets and pizza addict. Online and real-life fitness coach. Author of the "From Fat To Six Pack" E-mail training course. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.

  • Toaster

    I have a very deep natural curve to my lumbar spine. I fine dead bug painful, as my back naturally arches. What do you recommend?

    • Bertim Timbert

      No, you MUST resist the arching of the back, that’s the point of this exercise. At the beginning, this exercise is harder as it looks, start with just lowering one leg after the other for 5 times each, slowly. No, i’m not a coach, but i think it’s like that. My posture improved when doing this. Got a “Mind-Pelvis-Connection”.