When you are planning to get a chiselled core, strong abs, planks and crunches of various forms, weight training exercises like deadlifts are preferred. But there is a more effective way to train the core, which is the dead bug exercise. Don’t be fooled by the cute name; it is more challenging than it sounds! Read on to know more about it.

What is a Dead Bug Exercise?

A dead bug exercise is the one that targets your abs. It is a bodyweight exercise done by lying on your back on the floor. 

The lower back is kept in contact with the mat all the time while bending the knees at 90 degrees. The arms are lifted straight up above the shoulders. In a slow and controlled movement, one arm is lowered to the floor, and the opposite leg is also extended to the floor. Return to the centre and do the same on the other side. 

To perform dead bug exercise properly, the midsection has to be stabilised, and the motion has to be controlled and slow. It works on the core and helps create a better form for using various other fitness machines if done properly.

Benefits of a Dead Bug Exercise

When you think of working out your abs, it is mainly to look good in figure-hugging clothes. But your abs is a key component in your total core and includes muscle groups between the hips and the shoulders. These muscle groups work in conjunction with the lower and upper body for fluid movements. A Dead bug workout is an excellent way to work these muscles. The dead bug exercise benefits include:

  • Improving the core strength: A bug workout targets the erector spine and pelvic floor. These are deeper core muscles that are not easily reached by other core exercises. Hence a dead bug core exercise help in increasing the core strength better than any other exercise.
  • Boosts coordination: A dead bug core exercise can boost coordination and mobility in the legs, core, back, and arms. It activates the stabilisation muscles and provides a complete range of motion. It is thus done as a warmup for jumping, sprinting, and swimming exercises.
  • Is easily adjustable: Dead bug workout can be adjusted as per the fitness level. If you are a beginner, start with a simple dead bug exercise. You can increase the difficulty level by adding weighted dead bugs like dumbbells, ankle weights, stability balls, resistance bands, etc.

How to do a dead bug exercise: Step-by-step instructions

The dead bug exercise is a bodyweight exercise done with the help of a floor. The space needed to do this is the same as that of a yoga mat. So you can use a mat to lie on it and perform the exercise comfortably.

  • Lie on the yoga mat to do the bug workout. Extend the arms straight above the chest perpendicular to the body. Bend the hips, lift your feet from the floor and keep the knees at 90 degrees. The trunk, thighs, and shins should be at a right angle. This form is the start position of the dead bug.
  • Keep the lower back in contact with the mat and the core engaged. Keep the spine steady and in a neutral position.
  • Now move your left hand back towards the mat and simultaneously extend your right hip and knee towards the mat. Keep the right leg and arm where you started. Make slow and steady movements while breathing in when you extend.
  • Repeat the same movements on the other side by stretching and extending the right hand and leg. Do deadbugs workout for 5 repetitions on each side for 3 sets. When you have completed your sets, return the feet to the floor.


Variations and Modifications of a Dead Bug Exercise

Dead Bug Exercise for Beginners

The dead bug exercise is beginner-friendly but if there are some with a weak core, keeping a proper form is difficult. If you are unable to keep a steady torso, the best way to go about is to move one side at a time rather than moving the opposite side.

The other modification you can do is to first extend the arm, bring it to the centre and then extend the leg. After that, bring the leg back to the centre and do the same on the other side.

For Advanced Trainers

The dead bug exercise is a precursor to a number of other core exercises. It helps to stabilise muscles without causing strain to the back. If you are a pro at this exercise, then you can train on plank variations. If you want to continue supine exercises, then you can try the weighted dead bugs. Hold a weight of your preference like a dumbbell, one in each hand and perform the exercise. Perform all repetitions on one side and then switch sides.

Common Mistake to Avoid While Doing Dead Bug Exercise

Workout at home means that you don’t have an expert checking your form. To help those, here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Moving too fast is one of the major mistakes people do in a deadbugs workout. It is not a bicycle crunch, and speed and momentum are not required.
  • Moving all the extremities at the same time. Come to a complete stop on one side before moving to the other side.
  • Maintain perfect core stabilisation by going slow and steady while performing a dying bug exercise. When you are fast, the torso shifts and the stability goes for a toss. If you are going too fast, use a stability ball between your hands and feet. You can hold it only when you are not using more than two extremities simultaneously.


How to Avoid Injury during a Dead Bug Exercise

To ensure there is no injury, it is essential to have a proper form and technique. Also, to get dead bug exercise benefits, it should be done effectively and modified as per your needs. If you are using weights, always choose something where you have complete control over it. Stop when you are in discomfort or pain. Do warmups, whether you are doing hop exercise, core exercises, or a dead bug. Take special care of your nutrition and diet, which helps in the better success rate of the bell swing.


The dead bug exercises not only help you get six pack abs but also develops core strength, reduce lower back pain and improve overall stability. It can be done as a standalone or part of core exercises. The dead bug exercise for beginners is simple and can be modified to prevent boredom. However, before starting this dying bug exercise, speak to your doctor, especially if you have medical issues.

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Posted 
December 31, 2021
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