The Dead Bug exercise looks simple but don’t let that fool you, it is very challenging! This exercise strengthens the core, decreases pressure in the lower back, improves posture, and enhances everyday movement. The best part it is, you don’t need much space or any equipment. Here’s how personal trainers can demo this important core movement.

Muscles Worked

Abdominals, erector spinae, diaphragm, and pelvic floor. Also, the shoulders and hip flexors to some degree.

Common Errors

  • Arching back
  • Going too fast
  • Holding your breath
  • Not resetting after each repetition

How to do The Dead Bug


Programming the Dead Bug

Focus on quality reps versus quantity reps. Start off with 3-5 reps on each side and once you can get 3 sets of 10 on each try progressing the exercise (adding resistance, weight, time under tension, etc). Be aware of the abs staying braced, if you lose tension and the ribs flare, the lower back will extend defeating the purpose of this exercise. Exhaling through when your arm and leg are extending is very important.

Holding a large stability ball between the thigh and upper arm may help provide proprioceptive feedback to keep clients coordinated.

Go Do It

The dead bug is not only effective for your core but also very functional (purposeful). With so many exercises out there that focus on flexion and rotation of the spine, having a better alternative that not only works the same muscle but keeps your body safe in the process, is a much better choice. Give the dead bug a try you may never go back to “traditional core” exercises.


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Ian Nimblett

Ian Nimblett, CFSC, CSCS, NFPT-CPT and is a functional strength & conditioning coach, personal trainer, and author. He is the founder and owner of Premier Fitness Group LLC in South Salem, NY, a world-class functional training facility that provides private, semi-private, and group training.