Deadbug benefits and three variations to take it to the next level

There’s no need for fancy, complicated exercises even though they look cool, and there is no need to twist yourself up into knots either. All you need is your exercises to be effective for life and assist you in reaching your fitness goals.  

The deadbug fits this to a T, but what the heck is a deadbug? More on this later.

It’s a silly name, and when you see it done, it doesn’t seem it should do anything because it doesn’t look cool or hard enough. This is why many people don’t do it,  which is a shame. Because when performed correctly, it ticks many boxes.

Here I will dive into what the deadbug is, how to do it, its benefits, and a couple of souped-up variations to take your core strength to the next level. Ready to lie on your back and play dead? Let’s deadbug.

What Is the Deadbug?

Do you know how a dead cockroach looks when lying on the ground? That’s why the exercise gets its name. You are lying on your back and moving your opposite arm and leg while keeping your back flush with the ground. The deadbug is an anti-low back extension exercise because your lower back is not a fan extension.

How To Do It

1.     Lie on your back, take your feet off the ground, and bend both knees at 90 degrees with your feet pointed towards the ceiling.

2.    Raise your arms towards the ceiling directly above your shoulders.

3.     Flatten your lower back by performing a posterior pelvic tilt and maintain this for the entire set.

4.     Take a deep breath through the nose, filling your belly with air.

5.     Extend your left arm behind you and your right leg in front of you at the same time while breathing all of your air out.

6.     Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

3 Deadbug Benefits

Let’s face it, the deadbug isn’t sexy or complicated, nor will it get you ripped, but it does have many other benefits, which are listed below.  

Improved Core Strength

Many exercises improve core strength, with this being one of them. When you combine contralateral movement with proper breathing, you’ll feel the true meaning of your core, which is resisting movement if you cannot keep a neutral spine performing the deadbug, good luck with a barbell.

Better Coordination

The basis of all human locomotion (walking, running, etc.) is contralateral movement ( opposite arm and opposite leg). This is something taken for granted; some people lose it because they sit on the couch too much. The deadbug reinforces this contralateral movement for better coordination.

Improves Posture

Performing the deadbug encourages better posture because tilting your pelvis flattens your lower back. The deadbug makes you aware of your posture and feeling of keeping a neutral spine.

Don’t Do This

The deadbug is a simple core exercise and is easy to pick up quickly, but that doesn’t mean mistakes don’t happen. Watch out for these common errors when deadbugging to get the benefits listed above.

Keep Your Lower Back On The Ground

When moving your opposite arm and leg, your lower back can lose contact with the ground due to mobility and core strength. If this happens, stay within a range of motion you can control.

What’s The Hurry

Many tend to rush their deadbug to get to the cooler exercises quicker, but this is a mistake. There is a loss of tension, and this exercise’s benefits disappear. Instead, slow down, breathe, and feel the core magic.  

Keep Your Head Down

Some like watching themselves do the deadbug, like doing bicep curls in the mirror. The deadbug is not an exercise. It cranks the neck, and the neutral spine is lost. Look at a spot on the ceiling and resist the temptation to watch yourself.

3 Deadbug Variations

When you feel you have the basics down, here are three progressions to further improve your core strength and coordination.

Weighted deadbug

Adding lightweight plates in each hand (2.5-5 pounds) increases your intensity, but the main benefit is helping slow down the movement as the weight plate lowers towards the floor. This increases the time under tension of your core muscles for extra sexiness. Pairing this with a plank variation will give your core a double whammy for added core goodness.

For example

1A. Weighted deadbug 6-8 reps each leg

1B. Side plank

Pullover deadbug

Kettlebells and the deadbug are like peanut butter and jelly, bicep curls, and mirrors. They are perfect for each other. The offset nature of the kettlebell, combined with doing the deadbug puts extra demand on your core, shoulders, and lats. Pairing this exercise with a movement that demands core stability and a neutral spine works best.

For example

1A. Squat, hinge, or single-leg variation

1B. Pullover deadbug 6 to 8 reps per leg

Stability ball deadbug

The stability ball reinforces the correct form because using the same arm and leg will cause the ball to drop to one side. Plus, actively pressing your opposite arm and leg into the ball will create extra core tension that you will enjoy. Or not. Pairing this with another ball exercise means you don’t have to get off the floor. A win-win, right?

For example

1A. Stability ball deadbug 6-8 reps on each side

1B. Stability ball hip ext./hamstring curl 12 reps

Wrapping up

The deadbug, and the three variations above, deserve a spot in your routine because your lower back will be pleased. But don’t worry about all the weird looks you’ll get from fellow gun goers. They’re just jealous. 

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