Dying Bug–A Fun and Easy Way to Work your Abs

Dying bug is not an original Pilates exercise. I’m not sure who created it or when, but this is my personal favorite ab exercise. As you may recall, Pilates has tons of ab exercises, so it’s no small praise that Dying bug is my favorite.

Part of why I love this exercise is because it adds functionality to your body. Yes, you’re working your abs by reaching an arm and a leg. However, you’re also training your core muscles to stabilize as your arms and legs move.

In this post, I give step-by-step instructions on how to do Dying bug on a foam roller, but the roller isn’t necessary. This exercise can easily be done on the floor.

Dying Bug

  1. Use traditional Pilates breathing.
  2. Come onto your back. If you’re on the foam roller, make sure that you sit all the way at one end of the roller so that, as you lie down, you don’t run out of support. Your pelvis, spine, and head should all be supported by the roller. If your head is off the roller, you can either wiggle your way down so that you’re fully supported; or you can roll off and try again.
  3. If you are on a roller, ground through your feet and use your abdominals to keep you centered. (You should still engage your abdominals even if you’re not on a roller. The feeling just won’t be quite as intense.)
  4. Inhale to reach your right arm straight toward the ceiling (while keeping your left hand on the floor for support), and raise your left leg up to Table top. Flex your foot at the ankle.
  5. Dying bug on the foam rollerExhale and reach your arm and leg. Your arm should reach beside your head. Make sure that your shoulder stays down away from your ear as your arm moves. When you reach your leg, press through the sole of your foot. This should help you extend your leg on about a 45 degree angle. Your right and left thighs should end up parallel.
  6. dying bug on the foam rollerInhale to bring your arm and leg back to your starting position.
  7. Exhale and lower them to the floor so you can switch sides.
  8. Inhale to reach your left arm straight toward the ceiling (while keeping your right hand on the floor for support), and raise your right leg up to Table top. Flex your foot at the ankle.
  9. Exhale and reach your arm and leg.
  10. Inhale to bring your arm and leg back to your starting position.
  11. Exhale and lower them to the floor.
  12. This makes one set. Complete about 10 sets.

Finding a Foam Roller

If you want to order a foam roller, I recommend the OPTP brand foam roller. Their foam rollers are firm and don’t dent or bend easily. It’s crucial for your foam roller to be firm and stay the same shape throughout its use.

Foam rollers are a great tool to elevate your Pilates mat work, but they’re also wonderful self-massage tools. Here’s a link to some foam roller stretches.

Dying Bug Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

What’s your absolute favorite ab exercise? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi! I'm Sarah, and I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. When I'm not working with clients, I'm researching the best ways to get rid of pain. Do you want to learn how to practice yoga and Pilates safely in your own home? Or, do you want to know all my tips and tricks for pain relief? Join my mailing list and receive free goodies to help you.

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