By Neal Prokop, Sport Performance Specialist

The dead bug is a popular core and abdominal exercise that we’ll use with our developing athletes to improve coordination. It’s not a complicated exercise to teach, but can be difficult to ensure each limb moves appropriately.

Lying flat on your back, your arms and thighs rest perpendicular to your body. Slowly, you’ll move them contra-laterally, while maintaining a flat back to eliminate any twisting and arching through your mid-section. But be careful, it can be tougher than it sounds!

Below is a video to help you visualize the movement (but even my arms drift as I lower my leg to complete the movement)!



No matter your age or experience level, the exercise is great for engaging and activating the stabilizing muscles in your core. Although important, repeating any exercise over and over gets boring! Here are six of our favourite ways to incorporate the exercise into athlete programs, bringing life to the dead bug!


#1 – The Med Ball (MB) Dead Bug

Holding a med ball with both hands, reach and lower it above your head as you move a single leg to the end position, switch sides and repeat.


#2 – The Dumbbell (DB) Dead Bug

The exercise is similar to the MB dead bug, except hold dumbbells in both hands. Slowly reach and lower them above your head as you move a single leg to the end position, switch sides and repeat.


#3 – The Mini-Band Dead Bug

Identical to the regular dead bug exercise, however this variation involves wrapping a mini-band around your feet.  This modification hammers the opposite lower abdominals and hip flexor as you lower a leg.


#4 – The Stability Ball (SB) Dead Bug

The SB dead bug is a great variation to include with developing athletes from a self-cueing standpoint. As athletes lower a leg and an arm, they must activate and squeeze the stability ball with the opposite limbs. If there’s improper movement, or they lax, the ball drops!


#5 – The Single Arm Med Ball (MB) Dead Bug

Another self-cueing variation, this time athletes let a ball or med ball rest on their flat palm. As they complete the movement, the shoulder must remain perpendicular and stable, or once again, the ball drops!


#6 – The Contra-lateral DB (DB) Dead Bug

Mirroring the original dead bug, this variation progresses to holding dumbbells in opposite hands. The extra load wants to drop, and lift your back, making it more difficult to maintain controlled motion and a flat back.


Try incorporating these into your program this week!  For questions and support, always reach out to


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