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The Dead Bug Exercise for Ab Muscles

You may look like a dying bug while doing this exercise, but your abs wont notice the silly name. The dying bug targets your abdominal muscles and helps to improve the coordination between your arms and legs. If you are just starting out in an exercise program, start with low-intensity arm or leg dead bug exercises before progressing to an advanced dead bug using your arms, legs and additional exercise equipment. The key is to keep your abdominal muscles tight and your lower back flat against the floor throughout the exercise.

Perform all variations of the dead bug exercise on an exercise mat or carpeted floor. The arms-only variation is a low-intensity dead bug exercise. Lie on your back, bend your hips and knees, place your feet flat on the floor and position your arms down by your sides. Start by contracting your abdominal muscles, then press the small of your back against the floor and extend both arms straight up with your fingertips pointing toward the ceiling. Slowly lower your right arm back toward the floor behind your head until it is an inch from the floor. Return your right arm to the starting position and repeat with your left arm. Lower each arm 10 times, rest, relax your abdominal muscles and do another set.

With this low-intensity dead bug variation you position yourself the same way as in the arms-only exercise except that your arms remain down by your sides throughout the exercise. Contract your abdominal muscles and press your lower back against the floor. Slowly lift your right foot 6 inches off of the floor, hold the position for five seconds and slowly lower it back to the floor. Repeat with your left foot to complete one repetition. Do 10 repetitions, rest, relax your core muscles and repeat.

By using both your arms and legs, this dead bug variation is more intense and requires some coordination. Start by lying flat on your back, arms by your sides, hips and knees bent and feet flat on the floor. To start, tighten your abdominal muscles and press you lower back against the floor. At the same time, extend and straighten your right leg forward and lift and extend your left arm behind your head. Hold them parallel to the floor, but not touching the floor. Return your leg and arm to the starting position and repeat with your left and right arm.

You will need a stability ball for this advanced variation of the dead bug. Lie flat on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Hold the stability ball straight above your chest between your hands with your elbows straightened. As you tighten your abdominal muscles and press your lower back against the floor, slowly lower your arms and the ball back behind your head until it is a few inches from the floor. Raise the ball back up and lift your legs and feet up to meet the ball. Grasp the ball between your ankles, lower your legs forward with the ball and at the same time, lower your arms back behind your head. Just before the ball and your arms touch the floor, bring them back up together, grasp the ball with your hands and lower your legs and arms at the same time. Continue to alternate your grasp of the ball between your hands and ankles 10 times. Rest and do another set.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.