The Superman Exercise Is the Sleeper Workhorse You Need in Your Routine

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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman… the exercise, not the man. The Superman is a great, beginner-friendly, full-body move that helps you to stretch and strengthen your posterior chain, while also improving your posture and mobility.

“Doing the Superman exercise, you’re essentially lighting up your entire posterior chain like a Christmas tree,” says Tomika Taylor, a certified health coach and personal trainer. “It’s a fantastic way to work those often-neglected muscles from your neck down to your heels, reinforcing your body’s backside support system and enhancing everything from posture to power in your daily movements.”

More on why you should add the Superman exercise into your workout routine, and exactly how to do a Superman to maximize the benefits, here.

Superman Exercise Benefits

Let’s face it: the Superman looks a little goofy, and while you’ll definitely feel the effects the next day, it’s not necessarily an exercise that makes you break a sweat in the moment. But it would be a mistake to sleep on these benefits of the Superman exercise.

It increases core and back strength

We all know your abs are in your core, but did you also know that your core starts at your shoulder girdle, goes down to your pelvic girdle, and circles all the way around you? Your core is the most central part of your body where all movement flows from, so it’s important to keep it strong.

“The Superman exercise is a potent tool for fortifying the core and back muscles, providing essential support for both everyday activities and athletic endeavors”, Taylor says.

It improves posture

Speaking of your back — we spend so much of our day hunched over our phones and computer screens, and exercises that target our posterior chain, like the Superman, can help fix the poor posture we take on.

There are reasons to straighten out your posture beyond, “your mom told you to,” by the way. Taylor tells PS that the proper posture optimizes bodily alignment for improved functional performance. “With proper posture we will create more efficient movement patterns, decrease stress on joints and ligaments, and promote sustained energy and vitality. Maintaining an upright and aligned posture is fundamental in preventing musculoskeletal discomfort and enhancing overall physical well-being”, she says.

It engages your whole body

Although the Superman targets your core and back, you’ll feel it in every part of your body. “It elongates muscles in your back and lats, and it also activates the shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings”, says Jen Lennox Chiudioni, a certified personal trainer. One move that works multiple muscles at one time is the best form of multitasking.

It’s accessible

The Superman is great for all fitness levels. “The bonus is that it’s a bodyweight exercise, so it requires no equipment”, says Lennox Chiudioni. You can add resistance for an extra challenge (by strapping wearable weights onto your wrists and/or ankles, for instance), but your body weight is all you really need for it to be effective. And while people with certain conditions — such as a pre-existing back injury — should check with their doctor before performing the move, the Superman is ultimately a pretty beginner-friendly exercise.-

It increases mobility

By targeting key muscles involved in stabilizing the spine, the Superman can improve mobility, making it a perfect warm-up exercise before lifting, says Zeenat Khan, a NASM- certified personal trainer.

“Strengthening the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings can enhance spinal stability and pelvic alignment, which are crucial for maintaining proper form during heavy lifts such as squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses,” she says. “By improving the strength and stability of these muscles, the Superman exercise can help reduce the risk of injury and optimize performance in big lifts.”

How to Do the Superman Exercise

  1. Lay on your stomach in a prone position with your arms above your head and legs out long.
  2. Simultaneously lift your arms and legs off of the floor about six inches, keeping your gaze down to look at the floor just beneath your nose to ensure your spine stays in neutral position.
  3. Squeeze through your back and glutes, and pause for three seconds at the top.
  4. Release the muscles and return to the starting position.

Superman Exercise Variations

If you are looking to add more difficulty to your Superman these options will help you take it to the next level.

Add Weight

For this option you will perform the move the same as above, however you can add light hand weights or wearable weights on your wrists or ankles that will add resistance. Start with 2 to 5 pounds. You should be able to maintain your full range of motion. If you’re not able to, either reduce the weight, or return to bodyweight.

Add a Lat Pulldown

Start in the same position as above, but when you get to the top of the movement, squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your elbows toward your hips for a lat pull down. Then return your arms to the starting position and lower your body back to the ground.

Superman Exercise Modifications

You may also want to make modifications to dial down the intensity, as you build your strength.

Change the Range of Motion

If you have tight shoulders, or struggle to raise your arms above your head, keep your arms bent at a 90 degree angle through the entire move.

Alternate Legs and Arms

If it’s uncomfortable to raise your entire body at once, alternate lifting one arm and leg at a time. Start the move as above and instead of lifting both arms and both legs, lift your right arm and left leg then return to the floor. Next, lift your left arm and your right leg. Continue to alternate until all reps are complete.


Brittany Hammond is a NASM-certified fitness instructor, a fitness writer, and an avid reader. In addition to POPSUGAR, she has contributed to Livestrong.com, Well+Good, Verywell Fit, and Health.com. She has worked as a group fitness coach for the past seven years.


Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Chaunté Vaughn

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