If You Want Strong Abs, a Yoga Instructor Explains Why You Should Never Skip the Superman
The Superman exercise is an effective back extension exercise that strengthens your lower back and tones your glutes and hamstrings. But since your arms are extended, you'll also target your upper back and shoulders. It's a complimentary exercise to all those ab exercises you do like crunches and leg lifts since it targets the other side of your core.
As a yoga instructor, this is a pose I recommend to all my students who want to strengthen their core, especially those who tend to focus on just their abs. While toning your upper and lower abs and obliques is important, you don't want to create a muscular imbalance by only focusing on the front of the core. So after your ab workout, I recommend flipping over onto your belly and doing this superman hold exercise. All you need to do this move is your own body weight — no equipment (or movie ticket) is necessary.
How to Do the Superman Exercise
- Lie face down on your stomach with your arms and legs extended. Keep your neck in a neutral position.
- Keeping your arms and legs straight (but not locked) and your torso stationary, simultaneously lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling to form an elongated "U" shape with your body. As your back arches, your arms and legs lift several inches off the floor.
- Hold for two to five seconds and lower back down to complete one rep.
- Do three sets of 12 reps.
When you have completed all three sets, or even in between each set, do Child's Pose to stretch your back and hips.
Benefits of the Superman Exercise
- Injury prevention: Strengthening the back side of your body will help prevent injury when lifting heavy objects. If your back isn't strong, other muscles will compensate, causing strain, pain, or injury.
- Improved posture: Strengthening the entire core with the superman exercise makes all the supporting muscles of your spine stronger, improving your posture.
- Improved physical performance: Since the superman exercise strengthens your glutes and hamstrings, it'll help you with all your fitness pursuits, whether it's to run or bike faster, increase your muscular endurance, lift heavier, or to make you an overall stronger athlete.