Welcome to our second week of the not-a-plank challenge, where we try out underrated core exercises you should know. Today we’re taking on two exercises named after creatures, both of which are harder than they look.
The first is a long-time Lifehacker favourite, the deadbug. You start on your back, arms and knees pointed to the sky. Extend one arm and one leg so they’re parallel to the ground (but not touching), and hold there for a few seconds.
Your back will naturally want to arch while you perform the move, so your abs are working to prevent this. For that reason, it’s considered an “anti-extension” exercise, in the same family as ab wheel exercises.
It also helps you focus on moving just your arms and legs, without cheating the movement by extending or twisting your back. When you perform a deadbug, your hips and shoulders shouldn’t move from their position on the floor.
To make deadbugs easier, do just the legs. You can even consider holding on to something with your hands. To make them harder, check out these variations with resistance bands.
Flip the deadbug over and it becomes a bird dog. You start on your hands and knees, with your back in a neutral position. Extend one leg and the opposite arm, then return to the starting position.
Once again, you’re trying to keep your back straight and stable like a tabletop. You’ll need to use a lot of those stabilising muscles you never think about to make sure that your hips don’t dip or twist as you do the move.
To make bird dogs easier, do just the arms or just the legs. To make them harder, do the variation in the video above: Crunch your elbow to your knee as you finish the move, and then repeat to do several reps without letting that arm and leg rest.
Give these a try and let us know in the comments how you like them! And let us know about your favourite variations and similar exercises.