We all want rock hard abs, a flatter stomach or to just feel better about our stomach. Whether you are new to the gym or have been there for years, we have all thought to ourselves how great it would be to have a six-pack or flat stomach. But, just as the saying goes, “abs are made in the kitchen,” and having a six pack doesn’t automatically mean that you have a strong core.
The core consists of many parts and layers, initiating at the muscles that surround and protect the spine. Kyle Kiesel, citing Bergmark, hypothesized the presence of two muscle systems responsible for maintaining stability of the spine. The “global or superficial musc[ular] system” (outer core) consists of large torque producing muscles that act on the spine without directly attaching to it. These muscles provide general trunk stabilization without the capacity to control intersegmental motion. The “local or deep muscle system” (inner core) is made up of muscles that directly attach to the lumbar vertebra and are responsible for providing segmental stability and control.
So, while doing crunches and different sit up variations may strengthen your front abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis), there are exercises that are more beneficial to the overall health of your core and its main functions. Here are four dead bug variations that you can try in your next workout to get your core burning:
- Dead Bug
Lie on the floor, extend your arms straight in front of your chest with your legs up in a bent knee position and your feet parallel to the floor. At the same time bring your opposite hand and leg away from your body fully extended while keeping the other arm and leg in the same starting position. Bring the extended arm and leg back to the center and repeat the process on the other side.
- Dead Bug Sit Up
Set up in the same position as a regular dead bug, but with a dumb bell or kettlebell in your extended arms. Keep feet in table top position and reach up to the sky with your arms, bringing shoulders off the floor. Focus on coming up and not forward when performing sit up.
- Banded Dead Bug
Set up in standard dead bug position. Have a partner or beam hold one end of a band while the other is in your hands. Keep arms above chest while extending one leg at a time away from your body. Meet in the middle between each repetition while alternating legs each time.
- Dead Bug Paloff Hold
Set up in dead bug position parallel to band or cable machine. Grab band or cable with both hands. The weight should feel as if you want to be pulled sideways. Keep arms above chest while extending one leg at a time. Meet in the middle between each repetition while alternating legs each time. Turn around and perform exercise on other side.