Move of the month – Dead bug core move

Emma White - Certified Personal Trainer | 28 May, 2023

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Each month, I'll highlight an exercise move that is great to include as part of your workout routine! Next up...

Dead bug core move

Dead Bug

How to do it

  1. Start lying on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Ensure your back is flat against the floor and neck relaxed.
  2. Lift your feet off the floor and hold your legs at a 90 degree angle above your hips.
  3. At the same time, hold your arms straight out in front of you, with your hands reaching for the ceiling.
  4. At this point, draw your belly button down towards the ground and ensure your back is flat against the floor and your abs are engaged.
  5. To begin, move opposite arm and leg by stretching your leg out and your arm above your head. Keep your other arm and leg in position while you do this.
  6. Ensure you hover your arm and leg just above the ground – don't rest them on the floor.
  7. Move back into the start position and then repeat the move with your other arm and leg.
  8. Aim for 20-30, so you're performing 10-15 reps on each side.

What it's good for

The silly name aside, this is a great core move, fantastic for targeting the whole midsection. The reaching of the arm and leg away from your core means the whole midsection must engage to support the limbs. This means the upper, lower and deeper abs are activated, as well as the lower back. Because our arms and legs are involved, this move also targets the muscles of the upper and lower body. Your shoulders, chest and quads will all get activated.

Another good thing about this move is it requires coordination, as you're moving opposite sides of the body in unison. This is great for testing and strengthening overall coordination.


  • If you're new to this move, start with it as it is, and work on perfecting your form, moving slowly. You should be taking your time on the extension and holding for a moment before returning to the start position for full activation of the core.
  • Once you're ready, you can add weights to this move to make all your muscles work harder. Try ankle or wrist weights if you have them. Or simply hold some dumbbells in each hand to add extra resistance.
  • Another way to add some extra burn is to hold the arm and leg out straight for a count of 5 before returning to the start. This requires your core to engage for longer at the most challenging point of the move.


  1. The most important thing with this move is to ensure your abs are well engaged throughout. Ensure your lower back is flat against the floor at all times and your abs are activated. Revisit this throughout the move and adjust where necessary. It's easy to start relaxing the abs and arching the lower back if you lose concentration.
  2. Take your time with this move and ensure you don't move the arm and leg in and out too quickly. You need time at full extension for the abs to get to work.
  3. Try not to rest your arm or leg on the ground with each extension – you want to keep your abs engaged throughout.
  4. Remember to breathe! It can be easy to hold your breath during core moves, but try to focus on breathing throughout. Breathe out as you extend the limbs out and in as you release them back in.

How NOT to do it

Try to avoid arching your back, as that can mean the lower back is put under unnecessary pressure while not working the abs as much as you should. Also avoid speeding through this move as that will mean your abs aren’t getting the workout you want!

Emma White (Certified Personal Trainer) has always loved fitness. She's passionate about the many benefits of regular exercise, particularly the positive impact on mental health and overall quality of life, as well as how it provides the key to successful weight management.

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