Dead Bug Exercise: How To, Variations, and Benefits.

Dead Bug Exercise – Overview

The dead bug exercise is one of the best and most fundamental core stability exercises out there. In this article, we will explore the benefits of including this exercise to your core workout routine. If you already know about the dead bug exercise, we will help you take it one or two steps further and give you a selection of variations you should definitely give a try.

Muscles Targeted

Perfecting your dead bug is a great way to target your core muscles including:

  • Transverse Abdominus
  • Rectus Abodominus
  • Obliques


Fortunately, you can easily include the dead bug into your regular routine because you literally don’t need any equipment at all. However, if you want to try some of the variations we will cover later in this article you might need:

  • a stability ball
  • dumbbells
  • ankle weights
  • a foam roller
Equipment for dead bug exercise variation.  Woman leaning on stability ball.

How To Do The Dead Bug Exercise – Step By Step Instructions

  1. Position yourself to get started the dead bug exercise by lying down on your back on a firm, yet comfortable surface.
  2. Lift both arms up towards the ceiling.
  3. Raise both your legs by bringing your hips and knees to a 90 degree bend.
  4. Engage your core muscles by gently drawing your belly button down and in towards your spine.
  5. Slowly lower one arm, by extending it near your head, and the opposite leg simultaneously. Do not let either the arm or leg touch the ground.
  6. Repeat the last step with the opposite arm and leg.
  7. Avoid holding your breath during this exercise. Time your breathing so that you are exhaling on exertion.

Dead Bug Exercise Dosage and Parameters

Quality and form is much more important than quantity and speed. In fact, you should try to slow down your movement during the dead bug to challenge your muscle endurance.

You should do 3 sets of 12 repetitions before trying to progress to a more challenging exercise variation. Beginners may want to start off with fewer reps as a test. Hold each repetition for 3 to 5 seconds.

Get a stronger core with the dead bug exercise.


Make it Easier:

  • Heel Slides: Start with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Instead of raising your legs, extend your knee by sliding one heel on the ground and extend the opposite arm by your head.
  • Heel Touch: Start with your hips and knees bent to 90 degrees. Lower one leg and opposite arm. Allow your heel to rest on the floor briefly during each repetition.
  • Just Legs: You can reduce the complexity of the classic dead bug exercise by eliminating the arm movements and keeping them on the ground at your side.

Make it Harder:

  • Dead Bug with Weights: You can challenge your classic dead bug by performing the movement while holding dumbbells in your hands and with ankle weights.
  • Dead Bug with Stability Ball: Begin in the dead bug pose with your arms elevated and hips and knees bent to 90 degrees. Place a stability in both hands and in contact with both knees. Extend your arm and opposite leg towards the floor, while continuing to hold the stability ball with your other hand and knee.
  • Dead Bug with Foam Roller: Begin by lying on a foam roller. Raise both arms towards the ceiling and elevate one leg so that the knee and hip are bent to 90 degrees. The opposite leg will be bent with the foot in contact with the ground to assist with balance. Next, lower your elevated leg and opposite arm. Hold this position for 3 to to 5 seconds than resume the dead bug position by raising the opposite leg.


The dead bug exercise is a great way to promote improved core stability. By performing the exercise slowly, you are training your core muscles to hold longer contractions and improve your endurance.

Also, the dead bug trains your body to be able to move your limbs on a stable frame, which can be a very important aspect of recovering from a low back injury.

You will find that with a stronger core, you will have better athletic performance. More importantly, you will do your day to day tasks with more optimal movement patterns or form.

Common Mistakes

As is the case with most exercises, precision is the most important consideration for success. Do the best dead bug exercise routine by avoiding these common mistakes.

  • Avoid holding your breath while performing the dead bug exercise.
  • Do not allow our spine to arch excessively during the arm and leg movements.
  • Do not forcefully flatten your spine to the ground during the arm and leg movements.
  • Try not to perform the movements too fast. Slower is better.


You now have all the tools you need to get started with the dead bug exercise. Since there are so many great benefits of improving your core strength, you should consider adding the dead bug to your regular routine. There are many of the variations listed above, whether you’re a beginner or you are looking for a challenge.

Remember that you will achieve greater success with your fitness goals, if you focus on proper form and do it right.

Something else you should include while you are improving your core, is this 21 Day Plank Challenge.

How to do the dead bug exercise

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