Dead Bug: How to Perform it Correctly

Dead Bug: How to Perform it Correctly

The Dead Bug is an excellent exercise which can be practiced regularly to strengthen our middle zone or the “core”.

What is the Dead Bug, and what are its benefits?

We know that right now is not the ideal time to be training in a gym, because of the attempts to control the spread of the lethal COVID-19.

Due to this, methods such as the Dead Bug exist, a nice, practical and classic Pilates technique, and really effective.

The Dead Bug is a method of exercises that allows us to work the core of our body effectively.

It also provides an adequate stability to the lumbar region, which allows us to work on coordination and the shoulder girdle which make up the link between the upper limbs, or the chest, and the torso.

Dead bug middle zone

For those who are unfamiliar with the terms used in the discipline of Pilates, the Core means the nucleus or the centre, and it is used to refer to the entire muscular zone that surrounds the centre of gravity of our body. It is found just below the navel, however this depends on various factors.

How do I practice the Dead Bug?

When practicing the Dead Bug, the lumbar zone should not be arched, so that the transverse abdominal muscle can be activated.

A peculiarity that you also must take into account is that the name of this technique is related to the form in which we perform it, lying on our backs with our four legs raised like a dead insect.

Deeply working the abdomen

It is an anti-extension exercise, hence its effectiveness in working in depth on the abs and muscles that surround the middle muscles of the body.

This is one of its main benefits.

You only need your own body

Another benefit is that we do not need any other equipment other than our body.

To do the exercise, you must lie on the floor and raise up your arms and legs, in this position, flex your hips to 90 degrees.

Position 1

Do this by placing your legs perpendicular to your torso and then flexing your knees so that the lower legs are parallel to the floor.

The arms will be raised and extended upwards, also perpendicular to the torso.

You should pay attention when you take your head off the floor, or the mat that you have under your body, slightly pulling your chin to your chest, that is, not too extended backwards, or bent too forwards.

Position 2

Lift the arms and legs and extend them completely.

Remember to squeeze your abdomen well and make sure your shoulders and lower back are always completely supported so that your back does not arch.

Position 3

From there, the movement begins by extending one leg and the arm on the opposite side, bringing each limb closer to the floor

Remember: the lumbar region should be permanently stuck to the ground, this is crucial.

How to breathe

  • On the inhale: slowly lower one leg while lowering the opposite arm behind you.
  • On the exhale: lift your leg and arm back to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
It is recommended to do this every 45 seconds with 15 seconds of rest.


The duration of the exercise is generally 5 minutes, but this depends on the level of the person and it is always better to consult a professional to advise you in a more personalised way.

Start at a basic level, rushing or competitions are not recommended.

Workout according to the limits of your body, and when you feel stronger, you can advance. Be patient and persevere to get what you want.

Safe, flat belly

If you are still wondering what the advantages are of this Pilates technique, imagine that:

“Your mirror reveals an image of your abdomen without a millimetre of protuberance, with your core totally toned and strong, there’s no room for an inch of fat in the central area of your back or in any of your oblique walls on your hips or waist.”

All of this, of course, is recommended along with a properly crafted diet based on your objective and needs.

The experts in Dead Bug exercises of this kind confirm that the lower back becomes highly strengthened, along with other muscles including: the transverse, obliques, abdominal rectum, pelvic floor, lumbar, diaphragm and the multifidus.

These are all muscles with an important stabilizing function that will give you greater control of your body posture.

Dead bug resistance bands

Here are some of the benefits of these exercises that will give you a strong, slender figure.

Mistakes that can be made when performing the Dead Bug

Many people spend too many hours a day sitting, at work, in front of the computer, due to sedentarism…

And it turns out that this bent posture flexing forwards for a long period of time can produce an inadequate range of mobility in the thoracic column, which limits capacity to bend into athletic postures.

This explains why such error variations can improve or be eliminated by rolling forwards and backwards with a foam roller, allowing pressure to be applied to the places where it is needed.

This modification in the technique also challenges the strength and stability of the core with an additional benefit that maintains good hip and shoulder mobility.

Dead bug weights

Dead Bug as a Fitness technique

Once you achieve a good execution of this technique and you gain some “core” strength, you can add weight or other elements that intensify this activity.

Above all, an important tip is to not overdo it to avoid injuries that could cause a lot of damage to your body, such as overloads or lower back discomfort.

If you want to take initiative in this regard, you can hold a dumbbell or a disc between your two hands and thus add extra weight to your exercise, for example.

You can also move your legs and hands simultaneously or put weight on your ankles.

17 Variants of the Dead Bug


This exercise is quite complete and is key to strengthening the middle zone.

We recommend trying it when you feel sufficiently prepared with the lower back and the other areas fully energised and well trained.

Go ahead! You’ll have a healthy, fit body and abdomen sooner rather than later, so don’t hesitate.


  1. Kelvin N. King Jr. (2019) “6 Dead Bug variations for the weekend athlete”
  2. Peter Fiasca, Ph. D (2010) “Descubriendo pilates clásico puro”
  3. José María González Ravé and Christian Roberto López Rodriguez (2014) “Core training”
  4. Abigail Ellworth (2017) “Anatomía & entrenamiento del core”

Related Entries

  • We’ve left 17 Exercises for the Abdomen in this link.
  • Everything about the Abdominal Hypopressives here.
  • The Abdominal Vacuum technique helps to strengthen the core… continue reading.
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About María José García
María José García
María José has been linked to sport since she was a child when she entered and even competed in various sporting disciplines, such as skating, swimming and gymnastics.
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