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Core Strengthening Essentials for the Virtual Cyclist: The Dead Bug Exercise Series

Be the fly swatter and not the fly of your group ride by learning this essential core stabilizing movement - The Dead Bug Exercise.

The act of pedaling, a key component to the sport of cycling, requires the action of a number of muscle groups working in coordination, each with a specific job and an interdependence upon one another.  A strong core role in this pedaling muscle relationship is in creating a solid base by which a cyclist produces pedaling power.  

Having a stable spine allows the transfer of power to be efficient while decreasing the risk of injury.  The Dead Bug Exercise will do just that.  

In order to maximize pain free performance, you must strengthen the deep muscles of your core, including the spinal erectors and transverse abdominis.  These muscles work together to transfer movement between your upper and lower body, and they help stabilize the trunk, preventing your spine from moving in ways it shouldn’t while pedaling, but mainly to maintain a neutral solid position.

A strong, stable core helps to promote coordinated, athletic movement while simultaneously protecting your lower back from injury.  You can do this by adding deep spinal stabilization exercises to your core training routine.

The Dead Bug is an excellent exercise for promoting total core stability while improving alternating and opposite limb engagement. The Dead Bug exercise helps teach you to effectively move opposing limbs in tandem while keeping your core stable and your back protected.

Man lying on his back in the grass

Key Tips for Proper Form

Animated picture of a ladybug

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Supine Marching

While lying on your back with your knees bent, slowly raise one foot a few inches and then set it back down.


Next, perform on your other leg.

supine marching dead bug exercise
bridge with marching dead bug exercise
Bridge With Marching

While lying on your back, tighten your lower abdominals, squeeze your buttocks and then raise your buttocks off the floor by creating a “Bridge” with your body.


While holding this position, lift one leg while maintaining a level pelvis.


Set it back to the floor and then lift the opposite leg.

Bent Knee Leg Lifts

Lie on your back with your knees bent.


Use your abdominal muscles to press your lower back into the floor while lifting your feet a few inches.


Lower your legs while keeping your knees together without touching the ground and repeat.

Bent knee leg lifts dead bug exercise
dead bug exercise
Dead Bug

While lying on your back with your knees and hips bent to 90 degrees, use your stomach muscles and maintain a neutral pelvic position. Do not allow your spine to move.


Hold pelvic neutral and then slowly straighten out a leg without touching the floor. At the same time, raise an opposite arm overhead. Do not allow your spine to arch during this movement.


Return to starting position and then repeat on the opposite side.

Dead fly on the leaf of a tree

Conclusion: The Dead Bug Series

The Dead Bug is a safe, beginner-friendly core movement that helps you learn to move your limbs while keeping your core stable and protected. When done correctly, the dead bug engages the deep, stabilizing muscles of your low back, abdominals, and hips to contract, preventing your back from twisting or arching during the exercise.


By facilitating muscle coordination that can effectively transfer to athletic performance, improving your deep core strength can reduce the risk of low-back injury and make you a stronger rider.


The dead bug is also an excellent option for individuals who aren’t quite ready for advanced core movements, like the plank.  By following the Dead Bug progression, you will form a solid and coordinated base to build your core training plan and pedaling performance.

For more great core strength exercise professions like this one check out our strength & conditioning page.

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Dave Silcox
Dave Silcox
2 years ago

I will add that dead bug to my routine. I wear 1 kg ankle weights and hold 2 kg dumb bells while doing my core routine. Best thing that I have ever done for my cycling strength.

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