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BREAK IT DOWN: The Dead Bug

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Develop core stability and cross-body coordination.

The dead bug is a contralateral exercise that challenges the core to remain stable while the arms and legs move in opposition: The left leg extends with the right arm, and vice versa.

The move is fantastic for developing core stability and cross-body coordination. It trains pelvic stability and oblique engagement while the limbs are in motion, a posture that supports athletic performance and day-to-day function.

Additionally, unlike some other ab exercises, dead bugs eliminate joint stress that can cause discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and lower back. The move can also be adapted to different fitness and skill levels.

The trouble with dead bugs, however, is exactly what makes them so powerful: The contralateral movement of the arms and legs develops cross-body coordination — but it can be hard to get the hang of that rhythm. The stability it develops in the core requires the ability to control the midsection and a willingness to cut the reps short if form breaks.

If pelvic stability is an issue, place a softly rolled-up hand towel under your lower back and actively maintain pressure against the towel as you move your arms and legs. If the arm–leg coordination is difficult at first, hold your arms straight over your chest.

Remember: There is no ego in dead bugs — no PRs to pursue. Be open to slowing down, staying focused, and maintaining control to reap all the benefits of this move.

  1. Lie on your back and lift your arms and legs into the air. Your arms will be straight over your chest, knees bent at about 90 degrees. (You can also start with legs straight in the air.)

Tip: Keep your head on the floor, your neck in a neutral position.

  1. Engage your core, drawing your ribs down and pressing your lower back into the floor. Extend one leg to straighten it while dropping the opposite-side arm overhead. Reverse and repeat on the opposite side.

Tip: Actively flex your feet throughout the movement.

Tip: Do not lower your heels all the way to the floor. Extend and lower your legs only as far as possible without arching your lower back.

  1. Alternate sides, drawing your knee in only to hip level — not all the way to your chest. Perform three to five sets of 20 total reps (10 per side).

Tip: Do not let your pelvis pitch forward or back as you move. 

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Health & Fitness

How to Pack a Gym Bag

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Forgetting your socks or weightlifting gloves can derail your workout, especially if you’re new to exercise or entrenched in a rigid program. To stay the course, having the right supplies is key to your success. To help you prepare, we asked Life Time personal trainers Anna Taylor, NASM, USAW, Alpha, and Bryce Morris, MS, NASM, ISSA, Alpha, for their favorite gym-bag essentials.

Staples

  • Stretchy, flexible, sweat-wicking shirt and pants or shorts
  • Socks (two pairs)
  • Undergarments, sports bra, support, or protection
  • Cross-trainers or sport-specific shoes
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Flip-flops for showering
  • Hair binders, deodorant, toiletries
  • Sports watch or heart-rate monitor
  • MP3 player/phone and earbuds or headphones for music

Nice to Haves

  • Swimsuit for the whirlpool or sauna
  • Wet/dry bag for swimsuit or sweaty clothes postworkout
  • Razors: Some clubs offer them in the locker room, but bring a reusable one to cut down on waste
  • Odor-absorbing charcoal sticks to keep your bag smelling fresh
  • Shaker bottle with premeasured protein powder so you can add water and refuel

Coach Anna also suggests:

  • A protein-packed bar to eat before your workout
  • Bear KompleX Hand Grips for pull-ups
  • A weightlifting belt for lifts at 80 percent or more of max

Coach Bryce also suggests:

  • An extra T-shirt
  • A RPM speed rope for double-unders and conditioning
  • A BCAA and L-glutamine supplement to support recovery after your session

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