Gym in Waterford

Before starting I need to set the record straight.

Your CORE is NOT just your Abs.

It’s not just your tummy and lower back.

You don’t just work it with sit-ups and stomach exercises.

The “core” involves every muscle attached to your pelvis, spine and head. They are the muscles that maintain a neutral spine or optimal posture during dynamic movements.

Think of them as a symphony orchestra.

Each instrument on it’s own, sounds good. Together, if one instrument section is off key, it still sounds OK, but when all instruments are in key it sounds flawless.

Each core muscle working alone provides a movement. Together, if one muscle group is not doing its job, you can still complete the movement but it may not look or feel perfect. When they are co-ordinated, balanced and trained correctly, movement is flawless.

So why is the DEAD BUG so damn good?

  1. It’s an anti-extension exercise. This means, it trains your core to actively resist extending the spine (arching your back) during dynamic movement (when you move your arms and legs). Why is that so important you ask?

Due to the increase in time spent sitting, our hip flexors spend a lot of time in a shortened position (the hip flexors attach to the lower back and the top of the thigh bone – see pic above Rectus Femoris/Iliopsoas). When short, there’s only 2 things that can happen:

  1. Your lower back or lumbar spine moves down towards your thigh and your pelvis tilts forward (as in the pic)
  2. Your thigh moves up towards your lower back

You cant walk around with your feet off the ground so a forward curve of the lower back is what happens, and in the bigger scheme of things, that’s not a good thing for your intervertebral discs or the soft tissue in that region.

2. It trains the core to remain neutral during dynamic movements. It can be relatively easy to stand still and maintain a neutral spine, however, once you start to move through the shoulder and hips it becomes more difficult and more co-ordination and control is needed.

3. It teaches you to control your breathing. Creating intra-abdominal pressure is vital during dynamic movements and big strength lifts, such as the deadlift and bench press, for protecting the spine. Creating this pressure or “bracing” while also breathing slow and controlled is a skill that when transferred to other lifts will improve your ability to lift heavy.

4. It’s easily progressed (made harder) and regressed (made easier). To make easier from the version in the video leave out the arm movement or keep the knee bend and tap the foot off the floor without straightening the leg.

To make it harder you can perform slower. Take 5-10 seconds to lower the leg and arm and another 5-10 to return to the start point – TOUGH!

So now that you know how DEEEAAADLY the Dead Bug is, here’s how you do it:

  • Lie on your back with your knees above your hips and arms above the shoulders.
  • Flatten your lower back into the floor (if the knees drift back when you do this you’ll need to slowly move them forward and maintain pressure on the floor).
  • Take a slow, deep breath and slowly lower your leg and opposite arm towards the floor. Exhale slowly as you do this.
  • Maintain a flat back and work HARD to resist the urge to arch the low back or flare the rib cage.
  • Inhale slowly when returning the arm and leg to the start point.
  • Make sure the leg not dropping doesn’t drift back as the other leg moves out. Keep it very still!!
  • Repeat like mad until your core is on fire! Or 8-12 reps. That’ll do just fine too. Hit 2-3 sets to start with. Resting as needed between sets.

If you’ve read all that, I should tell you I pretty much explain all that in less than 2 minutes in this video. Enjoy! And Dead Bug the hell out of your next workout!

Thanks for reading and watching,


Padraig O'Halloran

Manager of Spirit Leisure Centre