Exercise You Should Be Doing: The Banded Deadbug

I’m not a psychic or a mind reader, but I can predict a few things from time to time. I accurately picked Croatia go to the World Cup finals, I predicted that no one would watch the Oscars this year. I’m not quite Nostradamus but I do pay attention and can nail a guess every once in a while.

I bet I know a few things about you.

I bet you want abs.

I bet you want better posture.

I bet you want to get rid of lower back pain.

Nailed it. Now what if I told you there was one exercise that could check all of those boxes? An exercise that would greatly challenge your abs, while simultaneously improving the relationship between your pelvis and ribcage and improving the muscles responsible for easy, healthy posture.

It’s called the Deadbug and it looks kind of stupid but it works fantastically.

The Deadbug is a core drill made famous by “The Spine Doctor” Stuart McGill. It’s really simple to execute.

You just need to lay on your back, extend your arms straight up to the ceiling and lift your shoulder blades off the ground to create tension in your abs. Then you bend your knees and lift your feet off the ground.

That is the start point. You’ll look like…..a…..dead…..bug.

Once you are in position you contralaterally lower your limbs to the ground while keeping your shoulder blades elevated, and your lower back pressed into the ground. That means you drop opposite limbs to the floor- your right arm and left leg, then you reverse it.

That’s great, but what if we want to add a variable that hammers your abs and increases the involvement of your lats?

You just need to add a band.

You can attach any band to a rack or a weight behind you. The tension will force your lats to fire to stay in position, which will elevate the exercise from “kind of hard” to “holy crap I hate this.” All that is to say: it makes it much more effective.

Here’s how to do it:

This deadbug variation is amazing for a few different reasons. First off it torches your abs. That’s never a bad thing.

Second it will take you out of postural extension and teach your pelvis to function in a neutral position. You probably have extended posture. That means you have a pelvis that flares back, instead of resting in a neutral position.

It’s also called Anterior Pelvic Tilt.

By forcing your lower back flat on the ground you will be training your pelvis to fight that Anterior Tilt and function in its natural position. This will greatly reduce strains in the lower back.

Third it teaches coordination that bleeds over to everything else in the gym. I bet you will look pretty stupid the first time you try this. It’s hard to control your limbs when they are moving in opposite diretions. It takes a few sets to develop the coordination needed. Once you’ve developed this coordination it won’t go away.

If you want your core training to be effective it needs to be more than just crunches and planks. You need to include anatomically smart drills like the Banded Deadbug in order to fully maximize your core’s ability.

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Patrick Henigan