Dead Bugs and Femur Arcs

Dead Bugs

When you start learning your Mat Pilates repertoire, two of the first exercises you may learn are: Dead Bugs and Femur Arcs. In this blog, we discuss these exercises and their benefits.

Dead Bugs and Femur Arcs both focus on hip dissociation, while the pelvis remains in a neutral position. The ability to dissociate the hip and the pelvis is important for general low back health as well as high-performance activities.


Dead Bugs

Dead Bugs is performed lying on your back with your spine in neutral, knees bent at 90 degrees and both feet on the floor. While maintaining a neutral spine, one leg is lifted into a “tabletop” position with the hip and knee each at 90 degrees. The leg is then lowered back to the starting position, and the movement is then repeated with the other leg. This exercise can be progressed by adding arm movements and/or lying lengthwise on a foam roller.

A common mistake with this exercise is the failure to maintain a neutral spine throughout the whole exercise, with the pelvis moving into extension or flexion when the leg moves.

The Dead Bug exercise is one of the safest exercises for challenging core control, as the spine and pelvis remain in neutral, so it is commonly used for low back rehabilitation.


Femur Arc

A further progression of this exercise is called Femur Arcs, which is performed by lying on your back with both legs in tabletop position, then slowly lowering one foot to the floor, while maintaining the 90-degree knee bend, then raising it back to tabletop.  Repeat with the other leg.  The non-moving leg remains in tabletop position throughout the exercise. Relative to Dead Bugs, this exercise increases the load, further challenging the core.

Femur Arcs should be performed with caution if any low back issues are present, due to the increased load on the low back while in the tabletop position.

Unlike other Pilates exercises that focus more on abdominal strength, the goal of this exercise is maintaining control.


Dead Bugs & Femur Arcs – Exercises benefits:

  • Improve abdominal and hip flexor control
  • Improve lumbar-pelvic stability
  • Integration of ribs with pelvis
  • Dissociation of the hip joint

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