How to Perform the Superman Exercise Correctly, According to a Fitness Expert

Stefani Sassos, MS, RDN, CSO, CDN
·3 min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Good Housekeeping

You don't need fancy equipment to get in an incredible workout in the comfort of your own home. The superman exercise is one of those effective bodyweight moves that works practically every single muscle in the body. But this movement can be tricky to master and although it seems simple, this exercise can easily be done incorrectly. That's why we sat down with Tunde Oyeneyin, Optimum Nutrition Ambassador and Peloton Instructor to share with us her top tips on perfecting the superman exercise and incorporating it into your regular workout regimen.

Superman Exercise Benefits

Whether you're a Pilates pro or avid runner, the superman exercise has whole body benefits that are sure to assist you at any point throughout your fitness journey.

  • Works multiple muscle groups: Oyeneyin says that the superman exercise requires engagement of the core, lower back, obliques, and various other muscles making it a full-body functional exercise.

  • Can improve posture: If you're spending hours at a desk or hunching over in front of your computer, the superman exercise can be great for counteracting this. "Strengthening muscles in the back can help improve your mobility, potentially lowering the risk of injury and improving overall posture," Oyeneyin shares.

  • Doesn't require any equipment: This low-impact movement can be done safely on the floor and doesn't require fancy equipment.

How to Perform the Superman Exercise

Photo credit: zoranm - Getty Images
Photo credit: zoranm - Getty Images
  1. Start by lying in a prone position with your face down, arms straight overhead and legs fully extended.

  2. Engage your back, glutes and core as you simultaneously lift up your arms and legs a few inches off the floor. Keep your neck and back in a neutral plane.

  3. Hold the superman for a few seconds at the top of the movement, then slowly lower back down to starting position.

Superman Exercise Variations

Photo credit: zoranm - Getty Images
Photo credit: zoranm - Getty Images

Oyeneyin says in order to progress this move and make it more challenging, you can increase the duration by raising extended arms and legs for a longer period of time. There are also some variations you can consider trying:

  • W Superman: Start lying on your chest with your face down and elbows directly out to your sides with forearms on the ground in line with the sides of your body. Squeeze your glutes as you lift your chest and arms off the floor as you squeeze your elbows together behind you. From above, your arms will look like a "W." Hold for a few seconds, then slowly return to starting position.

  • Alternating Superman: Start lying on your chest with your face down and arms straight overhead and legs fully extended. Lift opposite arm in unison with the opposite leg, pausing for a moment at the top and then slowly lowering down. Switch to repeat the exercise on the opposite side.

  • Medicine Ball Superman: Start lying on your chest with your face down, legs fully extended and arms straight overhead holding onto a light medicine ball. Engage your back, glutes and core as you simultaneously raise the arms holding the medicine ball and legs up a few inches off the ground. Hold this position at the top for a few minutes, and then slowly lower back down.

  • Superman Pull-Ups: Start lying on your chest with your face down and arms extended straight out overhead. Squeeze your glutes and lower back as you raise your legs and arms off the floor. Pause at the top, and then proceed to pull your elbows down and back squeezing them together. Then, reach back overhead mimicking a pull-up motion, and slowly return back to starting position.

When to Perform the Superman Exercise

Oyeneyin likes to perform the superman exercise before a workout to wake up and activate her core, but she notes that you can incorporate this movement at any point in your workout. She also adds that performing the exercise after a workout can help to stretch the back and relieve any tension built up during your sweat session.

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