The Dead Bug Is The Perfect Ab Move For Avoiding Back Pain

The Dead Bug Is The Perfect Ab Move For Avoiding Back Pain

by | Aug 27, 2020

Nothing hurts as good as a great ab workout unless that workout is the wrong workout and that burn you’re feeling isn’t just your core muscles building themselves back into a six-pack. You know the feeling—it’s in your back.

You might know to avoid situps without proper form, which can cause back pain. But if you’re stuck on what to try next, we’ve got an idea: lying on your back like a dead cockroach, Kafka style. The move is called the dead bug, and it’s one you should be adding to your repertoire of safe and pain-free ab routines.

RELATED: Do This One Move Before Every Abs Workout To Sculpt A Six-Pack Faster

Men’s Health US fitness advisor and superhero trainer Don Saladino recently showcased the exercise on Instagram. “The dead bug is a safe yet intense way to train your abdominals and core while establishing great movement throughout the body,” Saladino writes on the Instagram post.

Here’s how to safely pull off the deadbug, from Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.:

  • Start with a strong lower back position. That means contracting your abs so that you can drive your lower back into the ground. You can use a mat like Saladino to reduce any additional stress. The goal is to eliminate any space between your back and any ground surface. Not even a pencil should fit between.
  • Now, focusing on holding this position, extend one leg and the opposite arm. Extend only so far as you’re able to without losing that back-to-the-ground position. Don’t worry if you can’t go as far as Saladino; the move will get easier the more you perform it. What’s important is that you fight to maintain the lower back position, as this will be the mechanism that really works your abs. This will also test your shoulder mobility. If you begin arching your back, you may be overextending your shoulders. Keep fighting to keep your lower back grounded.

Ebenezer Samuel cautions that maintaining the form is paramount. “Deadbug only effectively works your abs if you execute it correctly—and it’s very easy to nail in the move and wonder why it’s not working.” Be sure to focus on the cues above, so your time spent working like a bug isn’t time wasted.

Ready to add the move to your repertoire? Saladino suggests doing 3 sets of 10 reps of the deadbug twice a week, as a warmup or as a punctuation to your workouts.

This article originally appeared on Men’s Health US. 

RELATED: PSA: This Move Is Better Than A Plank For Building A Strong Core

Recommended to you

8 Of The Best Exercise Shorts That Will Power You Through A Summer Of Movement

It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 


Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.defineSlot(gamData.adUnit, [300, 250], 'gam_midarticle_pos2_3') .defineSizeMapping(gamData.sizeMap.midarticle) .setTargeting('pos', '2') .addService(googletag.pubads()); googletag.display('gam_midarticle_pos2_3'); });

New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 


Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

Few things are worse than heading out the door for a run and realising your shorts offer no pockets for those essentials you need. You’re left to hold your iPhone, keys, and anything else you might need in your sweaty palm. Thankfully, Naomi Osaka knows what we need when it comes to exercise shorts and these utility shorts from her collaboration with Nike offer all that and more with a relaxed fit and elastic waistband. 


Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

Who said summer shorts have to be boring? Outdoor Voices brings fashion-forward style and playfulness to their collections with fun prints and exciting colours. We love the relay 3” shorts for their ultralight, quick-drying fabric that also happens to be made from recycled polyester. But more importantly, we love the print and Poppy Swirl is as good as it gets. There’s even a hidden pocket for your valuables, too. 


Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?