Last Updated on June 22, 2017 by Michael Brockbank
I’ve added the Superman exercise to my routine, but not because I have a superhero complex. It’s a good beginner workout to strengthen and tone the lower back muscles, an area that I have neglected. It’s a simple exercise and doesn’t take a great deal of effort to start feeling the effects.
Why You Would Want to Do the Superman?
Perhaps one of the obvious reasons to do this exercise is because of how easy it is. Almost anyone can do the Superman whether they’re on a yoga mat or on the floor of the living room. If you can lay on your stomach, you can do this exercise.
Since I started putting more effort into back exercises, I’ve noticed a considerable difference in how often I feel pain. Once plagued with discomfort and the feeling like someone was stabbing me in the spine, putting effort into exercises like the Superman has greatly decreased the frequency of these issues.
It’s all about keeping the spine where it’s supposed to be. Muscle development assists in this process as it provides stability and functionality to the spine. While I’m not a physician, I can only attest to how much better I feel overall since doing things like the Superman exercise.
You’d be amazed by how many activities rely on the strength of your back. I’m not just talking about weight training or looking good in the mirror. Various chores around the house, balancing and even golf all benefit from back development.
It’s worth it to me just so I can play 18 holes without being hunched over by the end.
If you watch the video, I do the Level 3 version of the Superman, meaning I hold up both arms and legs simultaneously for longer periods of time.
According to some experts, most of the work of the Superman centers around the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. However, I’ve also felt a bit effort going into other areas as well. From my experience, this exercise works on:
- Lower back
As for the obliques, the tension I felt was focused closer to my armpits than anything. I suspect it’s from lifting my arms and stretching during the workout. In any case, it’s turned out to be a worthwhile exercise for me.
Common Equipment Used
The Superman is an exercise that doesn’t require any additional equipment. While things like a yoga mat or nonrestrictive clothing are helpful, it can literally be done while you’re fully dressed in the office.
As long as you have space to lay down flat on the floor, you can do this exercise virtually anywhere. Just be mindful of the looks you’ll get if you do this exercise in the middle of the grocery store.
I would suggest doing these exercises on a soft floor. I use a thin yoga mat to support myself and make the experience more comfortable.
Does It Have Potential to Help You Lose Weight?
The Superman helps strengthen the lower back by forcing you to flex for extended periods of time. It’s much like how yoga improves muscle density and endurance. With that being said, this exercise doesn’t necessarily increase the heart rate to high enough levels to burn a large number of calories.
The longer you’re able to hold the position, the more fat you’ll burn. However, it’s not an exercise that will promote immediate results on its own. It’s best if you include the Superman in a complete workout routine. For instance, I’ll usually do the Superman right after a set of push-ups. Since I am already on the floor, it’s easy to transition from one to another.
In essence, it works much the same way as a plank, only for the other side of your body. Holding a flex for as long as you can helps to define and build muscle mass, which is why the plank and other yoga workouts are so effective. The Superman does the same for the lower back.
In reality, any physical activity helps you lose weight. Anything beyond your normal routine is beneficial for health and fitness. It’s just some exercises are more apt to increase the heart rate than others.
What Can Be Added To It?
If you want to get more out of this exercise, you can always add leg and wrist weights. The additional force you have to put in to keep your arms and legs up in the air increases the heart rate as well as further toning your muscles.
I’m a big fan of using weighted gloves during routines as I have proven that these devices increase the workout. However, I would suggest starting off with just the basic Superman if you’re a beginner. The last thing you want to do is hurt yourself right off the bat. Take time and work into the exercise.
Anything that causes more force to lift your arms and legs in the air is beneficial to increase the workout.
This exercise is easy to use as an addition to a power set. This is when you shift from one exercise to another without a break while keeping stride. Exercises based on the floor like push-ups or downward dog pose can shift quickly to a Superman without losing a lot of time.
The Superman can also be changed into what I call, the “Iron Man.” This is when you shift your arms back as if you’re flying like Tony Stark. I’ll do a more detailed article on this exercise, but I’ll tell you now that it’s not as easy as you might think. In fact, I was a hurting unit after just three reps at 60 seconds each.
How Often Do I Do the Superman?
It’s been a while since this exercise was part of my regular routine. Since I am working on setting records this month, I’ve added it back in so I can build endurance to set a new personal best.
This week, I’ve added three sets at 30 seconds each immediately after my sets of push-ups. This creates a great upper body workout that puts pressure on almost all the muscles from my knees to my neck.