Client: "You bloody love deadbugs, don't you!?"
Me: "...what makes you say that?"
Client: "How many deadbugs have you made me do this year?"
Me: "Fine. I would marry deadbugs."
My client is correct. I love a good deadbug. And I'd made her do about 2000 deadbug reps by then.
The deadbug (and the many variations) rock for many reasons from the practical making-things-stronger point of view, to the psychological to the profound.
Via deadbugs I've had clients realise that they DO have coordination after all, yes they can't dance for shit but they can wave their arms and legs around correctly while laying on their back.
Today we talk about my current favourite variation, the band pull apart deadbug. I began using this with a London-based couple who I train via video. They don't have much equipment and for a while many core exercises were causing issues with one or both of them. Because of how I structure our sessions, I needed to find a core exercise that worked for them both.
Eventually we found our winner in the deabug pull apart.
The pull apart aspect works a treat for training the upper back and learning how to pinch the shoulder blades together during bench pressing and other forms of rows. It's great for strengthening and working the upper back, and for many it can be used as part of an effective warm up.
The deadbug/leg element works well for training numerous muscles in and around the core from the abs to the hip flexors and the obliques. It's easy to progress and regress quickly so is great for changing on the fly or when it becomes too easy.
It can teach people to be aware of their spinal positioning as the floor is providing feedback throughout the movement. This can help you build enough awareness to control your hips, pelvis and spine a little more to facilitate better positioning movements like deadlifting and squatting.
Many who find other core exercises like rollouts painful often feel fine doing this exercise. It's a movement people hate less than planking. Less hatred means a happier, more motivated client. If a client hates planking, you can nearly guarantee I will be giving them this movement.
With many deadbug variations, they requires the arms to go above head. This version provides an option for those who can't do an overhead variation either due to pain, discomfort or something else.
These deadbugs are great for building people towards hanging leg raises and pull-ups, as well as other advanced core exercises.
I mostly use this movement in warm ups with a light band and low repetitions (4-10 reps) or later in a session, often as part of a superset for 10-20 reps with a medium band.
To those I train and those I will train in future, I apologise for all the deadbugs I will make you do. There will be many.
By Chris Kershaw
The Heavy Metal Strength Coach