What is the Dead Bug Exercise? Tips, Technique, Correct Form and Benefits

Guide to doing the dead bug exercise. (Image via Pexels/Photo by Andrea Piacquadio)
Guide to doing the dead bug exercise. (Image via Pexels/Photo by Andrea Piacquadio)
Shuvangi Sen Chaudhury

A strong core is never a bad idea, and to do so, you can take the dead bug exercise into consideration. While the name might sound unusual, the exercise in itself is a powerful movement to build a strong core.

However, it’s important to know how the dead bug exercise works before attempting it. The movement is slightly complex and it’s important to know it to gain the most out of the exercise.

The correct form for the dead bug exercise

Considering this exercise is for the core muscles, you can opt for a mat. This will make it easier on your back.

  • Lie straight on your back.
  • Extend your arms upwards over your chest. It should be perpendicular to your upper body.
  • Bring your knees in and form a 90-degree angle by bending from the hips. Ideally, your thighs will be perpendicular to your body while your calves will be parallel to the floor.
  • Engage your core and ensure that your spine is in constant contact with the floor.
  • Move your left arm backwards from the shoulders while extending your right leg. At the end of the motion, your left arm and right leg will be parallel to the floor. During this time, your right arm and left leg will be in the same starting position.
  • Bring your left arm and right left at the starting position while pushing your right arm backwards and extending your left leg.
  • Continue the motion in one flow while you finish the same number of reps on both sides.

Tips to do the bug exercise better

Now that you know how to do the exercise, you need to know the tips that will help you focus on your core muscles.

Always engage your core: This movement will not work if you’re not engaging your core. The abdominal muscles will activate themselves when you engage your core.

Control your breathing: Abdominal exercises need to be done steadily. This means that while you’re steadying your movement, you must control your breathing as well. Inhale and exhale with every move for proper blood and oxygen circulation during the movement.

Start slow: You do not need to try variations or advanced levels of this workout at the beginning. The beginner level is slightly difficult to master considering you may get confused about which arm and which leg to move.

Benefits of the dead bug exercise

Knowing how to do it and the tips to make it better may not be enough to make you consider this exercise. However, the benefits will most certainly make you want to add this exercise to your workout routine.

Stabilizes the spine

When you do this exercise, you’re using almost all muscle groups between your shoulders and hips. As a result, this movement works on your upper body and lower body. This transfer of movement between the hips and shoulders helps in stabilizing the spine.

Promotes stability

Considering the exercise works on both the spine and core muscles, it automatically works on balance and stability. It’s important to focus on the core muscles and the spine when doing this exercise to ensure it works on the required stability and balance.


Can help with advanced core exercises

Some advanced abdominal exercises require you to have a strong core. The dead bug exercise is one that helps with just that - developing a strong core. The more you work this into your routine, the faster your chances of moving to advanced movements.

Common mistakes while doing the dead bug exercise

Now, it’s a given that you will not be able to perfect the exercise on the very first day. It’ll take some time for you to master it, but being aware of the common mistakes will help you get there faster.

Trying too fast: When you start a new exercise, especially abdominal exercises, ensure to go slow. Doing the dead bug exercise too fast can lead to stomach cramps and muscle soreness.

Arching your spine: It is important to keep your spine on the ground when doing this exercise. You shouldn’t arch your spine at all. If you do that, you’re putting yourself at considerable risk. Additionally, the range of motion reduces when you arch your spine.


Not controlling your breathing: Inhaling and exhaling properly is extremely important during this exercise. You should make it a point to control your breathing during this exercise so that your core muscles do not disengage themselves.

Bottom line

Dead bug exercise is something you must try when you are comfortable doing abdominal exercises. However, you do not need to add it to your workout routine for every day of the week. You can do it every alternative day, and always warm-up and cool down before and after the workout respectively.

Edited by Sabine Algur


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