Add This Simple Core Exercise to Your Warmup to Improve Your Gains

Emily Shiffer
·3-min read
Photo credit: Jeremy Ethier - YouTube
Photo credit: Jeremy Ethier - YouTube

From Men's Health

Jeremy Ethier, kinesiologist, fitness trainer, and founder of Built with Science, is sharing his go-to move that he says can help to speed up your gains, minimise your risk of injury, and potentially alleviate back pain.

The move? The dead bug, which targets the transversus abdominis, a key muscle in your core. Ethier recommends adding a minute of the exercise to your warmups for optimal effect.

"Most people overlook this muscle, and they don't train it properly even when they think they are. And as a result, this muscle gets weakened over time, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting throughout the day," says Ethier.

He explains how the transversus abdominis works.

"This muscle sits behind your rectus abdominis, or your abs, and it wraps horizontally around your lower abdomen to stabilise your spine almost like a weight belt, and you use this muscle on combination with your other core muscles whenever you move your arms or legs and whenever you perform your exercises," says Ethier.

This muscle comes into play especially in moves like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, and overhead presses.

"The stronger this muscle is, the more stable you will be and the more strength and power you can put into your exercises that require a lot of stability and potentially speed up your gains as a result," says Ethier. "But the problem is is that this muscle is weak as hell in a lot of people and as a result can easily become the limiting factor in your exercises and the progress you're making in the gym."

And to strengthen it, you need to be do isometric moves, like planks, hollow holds and, of course, the dead bug.

According to Ethier, it is an anti-extension exercise, which means you brace your core in your deep abdominal muscles while you move your arms and legs. Not being able to execute this can result in some pretty major issues and injury risk when lifting. (Continued below)

"This is the reason a lot of people struggle with moving their hips without excessively activating their lower back, and it's also why a lot of people can't move their arms overhead without excessively arching the lower back," says Ethier. "The main goal of this exercise is not to simply extend the arms and legs. It's to isometrically brace and stabilize the core while moving at the extremities."

Ethier shared the steps to a solid dead bug.Lay on your back with your knees bent. Take a deep breath into your belly and a deep breath out. Draw your belly button into your spine, brace your core, and flatten your lower back into the ground.

"You want to brace yourself as if a person were about to drop a ball onto your stomach. Make sure there is tension there," says Ethier.

Continue breathing and bracing your core as you bring your arms straight up and your knees bent to 90 degrees, keeping your lower back flat on the ground. Stay there and hold for 60 seconds.

When you're ready, you can progress the move.

To do so, brace and start moving just one arm at a time. Then, move one leg at a time. Finally, you can do the full dead bug by extending your opposite arm and opposite leg at the same time simultaneously. And for an even more advanced move, you can do a full hollow hold.

An easy way to make sure your form is right is to keep a resistance band under your back while you do the movements to make sure you're keeping your back flat against the ground.

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