It’s funny because when I train clients in Pilates I call this exercise single leg stretch but when I train clients in the weight room I call it dead bug.
Regardless it is the same exercise but I think my clients get a kick out of the name dead bug more. I have also gotten texts the day after training sessions. “Dead bug. Surprisingly effective.”
And yes it is when done correctly. So you are probably wondering what the heck dead bug is?!
Dead bugs are the new crunches. The new go-to in core training. A supine plank you might say. A way to train the core while keeping the torso in a stable and safe position, even when moving the limbs.
In the 90’s it was cardio and crunches but, with research from people like Dr. Stuart McGill, over the past 15 years the way we train the core safely has changed.
Crunches and sit-ups can potentially put more pressure on the spine and leave discs in a vulnerable position when done repeatedly. And we all know people love their crunches as over the years they seem to be THE exercise! Maybe it was the bodybuilding era, maybe it is the “burn” people feel while doing them. Who knows?
From my professional opinion, I do incorporate a variety of movements that do sometimes include flexion of the spine, if appropriate. But I am also a fan of all the planks and love me some dead bugs.
How-to Dead bug:
Lying on your back with a neutral spine bring the legs to a table top position (90 degrees) and reach the arms toward the ceiling with palms facing each other. Take a deep inhale and on your exhale extend the opposite arm, opposite leg away from the body, pause and return back to the starting position and alternate sides.
Brace through the core (like someone is punching you in the stomach) to prevent the back from arching.
Focus on form, control and your breath. It should feel quite challenging.
If you want to add an exercise ball (like the picture below) hold on to it with both hands, pressed against the knees and bring the legs to a table top position. Extend opposite arm, opposite leg and keep the other two limbs in contact with the ball. Alternate sides.
Now go on and get your dead bug on!