Why This POse? Dead Bug Exercise

Welcome to or first edition of Why This Pose where we take a deeper look at the weird stuff we do in yoga.

Today we are talking about the Dead Bug. If you've taken a class with me lately, you've definitely experienced this exercise. 

Introduced to me by the fellas over at Strength Faction, this exercise has quickly become my favorite core exercise for my clients and myself.

what are the Benefits of the Dead Bug?

Glad you asked! The primary goal of the dead bug is to strengthen the core and improve anterior core stability all while minimizing pressure on the low back. This movement is also a great drill for realizing and correcting excessive anterior pelvic tilt. Performing this exercise on the floor not only provides stability, but feedback that you can take with you into other core movements and, well, life. 

Tips for Doing the Dead Bug Exercise Correctly

The benefits of the Dead Bug sound great, don't they? Who doesn't want stronger abs, better posture, and improved mobility? The trick is, you only get these benefits by performing the move correctly. Below are some of my tips for doing that:

  • Press your low back into the floor so hard that if you tried to shove your hand under your back, you couldn't! (not sure? try it!) If you can't perform this movement without lifting your low back off of the mat, perform the beginner version until you can.
  • Move slowly! There is no reward for rushing through this exercise. Rushing only leads to loss of control which negates the benefits. Take your time!
  • Use proper breathing techniques
    • From the starting position, take a full inhale through your nose
    • Exhale forcefully through your nose (think ujjayi breath) as you perform the movement on both sides
    • As you exhale, focus on expanding sideways and into the floor. Remember, low back down!
  • Don't let your knees move past your hips. Keep them in line.

How to do the dead bug exercise

Beginner

  • Lie on your back with your arms extended towards the ceiling 
  • Bend your hips and knees to a 90-degree angle, shins parallel to the floor
  • Take a deep breath in.
  • As you exhale, tighten your abs and press your lower back into the floor.
  • Take another deep breath in.
  • As you exhale, slowly extend your left leg straight out and tap your foot on the floor.
  • Keep your abs tight and don't let your lower back lift off the mat (aka don't arch).
  • Slowly return your leg to the starting position, without letting the knees move past the hips
  • Repeat with your opposite leg. Continue alternating.

Intermediate

  • Lie on your back with your arms extended towards the ceiling 
  • Bend your hips and knees to a 90-degree angle, shins parallel to the floor
  • Take a deep breath in.
  • As you exhale, tighten your abs and press your lower back into the floor.
  • Take another deep breath in.
  • As you exhale, slowly extend your left leg in front of you and your right arm overhead.
  • Keep your abs tight and don't let your lower back arch.
  • Slowly return your arm and leg to the starting position, without letting the knees move past the hips.
  • Repeat with your opposite arm and leg. 
  • Repeat 3-5 times on both sides.

Advanced

Oh you fancy, huh? If you want to take your dead bug to the next level, then add some light weights (2-5lbs in each hand). This will help increase resistance which will in turn increase the intensity. Remember, the most important part is that you resist arching your back.

Check out my video tutorial to see it in action!