Are you fed up doing endless planks?

Want something else to throw in at the end of a session to Train your Core?

If only there was an easier, more comfortable movement than the plank.

Cue the Deadbug.

The Deadbug is aptly named after that fly you just swatted and is now laying incoherent on the floor. Deadbug’s are a simple exercise that can be progressed easily and be done in a short space of time. Sounds good right?

This exercise primarily works the core through anti-extension (resisting inward curvature of the spine), whilst giving your hip flexors a workout in the process. The reason I like the Deadbug is that it’s a lot easier to focus on what you’re supposed to be doing, with a smaller risk of losing form as you progress. To Train you Core you want quality over quantity.

Planks can be an effective tool if used correctly, but once you drop out of a neutral spine, it’s no longer as effective and can potentially be harmful.

Completing a plank for 10 minutes straight might sound cool to your mates, but how long of that 10 minutes were you actually performing an effective exercise?

If you’re still squeezing in planks at the end of your session, you might want some more structure to your workouts. Personal or Online Training will give you a more regimented approach to your training.

Exercise Checklist

A demonstration of this exercise and its progressions can be found at the bottom of this article.

To complete the Deadbug, start off by laying on your back (somewhere firm but comfortable, i.e.  gym matting).

Once in the supine position, raise your legs in the air, bringing your knees towards your chest until your calves are parallel with the floor.

Hold your arms out straight ahead, pointing your fingers towards the ceiling.

Now, the key thing here is to try and keep your back (especially the lower back), flat towards the floor as you complete the movement. This is where the anti-extension part of the movement comes in. 

Extend opposing arms and legs (whilst keeping the other two limbs stationary), pushing the leg out through the heel and extended the arm overhead, similar to a backstroke movement (Don’t worry too much about the coordination, it’ll come).

Whilst moving the opposing limbs, ensure that your back remains flat to the floor and your core engaged. Return your limbs to the start position, using a bit of force as you do to engage the hip flexors and lats.

Repeat the movement with the other two limbs, up to a rep count of between 12-20.


Once you’ve nailed that for 3+ sets and it starts to feel too easy, it’s time to ramp it up.

The Deadbug can be progressed in a variety of ways, but there’s two simple ways that I would suggest to further Train your Core.

The first is via the use of a mini band. Using the same protocol as above but begin with a light mini-band around the bridge of the foot. This increases the resistance on the opposing legs, making it more difficult to keep one still and push the other out. Work your way through the resistance levels of a set of mini-bands, to make for an easy route of progression.

The second is by using a light dumbbells (2-4kg each side) on the over-head extension of the arms. Holding a light dumbbell increases the resistance on thoracic region of the spine, making it more difficult to keeping the whole of the back flat. This increases core activation and poses a further challenge to the core as you try and resist further extension of the spine.

If you’re really progressing the movement, then try both of the above together.

Why not try some Online Training to make sure you’re hitting your core in the right way?

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⬅️𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗸𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗗𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗯𝘂𝗴𝘀 (𝗦𝘄𝗶𝗽𝗲 𝗹𝗲𝗳𝘁) – Deadbugs are a simple exercise, working your coordination and core stability through anti-extension (resisting arching your lumbar). 𝗧𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗲𝘅𝗰𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗯𝘂𝗶𝗹𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮 𝗰𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗵𝘀, 𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗼𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗴𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗵𝗶𝗽 𝗳𝗹𝗲𝘅𝗼𝗿𝘀. – To do the deadbug, lie on your back with your legs tucked and feet off the ground. Raise your arms straight out and act like you've been killed by one of those bug zappers. – The key here is that you want to keep that 𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗳𝗹𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗹𝗼𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲. Extend your opposite arm to leg, before bringing them back to the starting position, resisting the urge to arch your back as you do so. Inhale as your extend, exhale as your bring your levers back. – Once you've got the hang of the movement, start to progress it. – Slide 1 – Standard deadbugs – Slide 2 – Deadbugs with mini band. The added resistance increases the strain on the hip flexors and makes it harder to keep your back flat to the floor. Push out through the foot, extending the band whilst maintaining the position of the idol leg. – Slide 3 – Deadbugs with mini band and dumbbells. Same as above but with added dumbbells (1-4kg). The dumbells increase the difficulty further by challenging your upper body and lower body simultaneously. – #corestrength #londonfit #personaltrainer #core #coredevelopment #ukfit #londonfitness #greenwich #fitfam #gymlifestyle #workout #trainingthatmatters #pt #trainsmart #functionaltraining #strength #progressiveoverload #fit

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Sam is a Personal Trainer, Online Coach and Fitness Educator with background in achieving results for a variety of clients. Sam now specialises in Pain Free Performance, helping people across the world to achieve their goals safely and effectively. 

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