A strong core is essential for any kind of movement, so building it up with a variety of ab-focused exercises can target not just your six-pack, but all of the other core muscles as well.
For a bodyweight move that fires up your core and challenges your balance at the same time, you’ve got to meet Superman.
“Superman planks give you the benefit of a classic plank move while strengthening your posterior core muscles,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Openfit’s director of fitness and nutrition content. “That can help reduce muscle imbalances, lower your risk of back pain, and even improve your posture.”
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How to Do a Superman Plank
- Begin in a high plank, with arms straight, wrists lined up under shoulders, legs at shoulder distance apart or slightly wider for better balance.
- Keep your back completely flat, and engage your core to keep your lower back from dipping down.
- Extend your right arm forward while lifting your left leg back. Hold for two to five seconds, then bring your arm and leg back down.
- Switch sides to extend your left arm forward and lifting your right leg up and back. Hold again, then switch.
- Be sure to keep your active arm and leg parallel to the floor. Trying to raise them higher than parallel often results in the hips dipping downward, which puts stress on the lower back.
Modifications for Superman Planks
If you’re finding it challenging to hold a Superman for more than a few seconds, there are a few strategies for building up to that longer hold:
- Try the bird dog exercise: Instead of starting the move from your toes, start on your knees and then extend your opposite arms and legs from that position. When you can build up to more than five seconds of hold on that, lift the knees while still keeping the legs bent.
- If you’re comfortable holding a plank, modify the Superman move by lifting your arm or leg one at a time, not simultaneously.
Superman Plank Progressions
If you can hold Superman planks for more than five seconds, try these variations to kick it up a notch:
- Hold for longer while still maintaining your form
- Add a cross body crunch by bringing your floating arm to meet your floating knee.
What Muscles Do Superman Planks Work?
Because you start in a standard high plank posture, you’re already activating your core muscles — your body is working to keep you properly aligned. So, as you move through the sequence, all of your core muscles are firing:
- Transverse abdominus (the deep abs that help to stabilize the spine)
- Rectus abdominus (your six pack)
- Erector spinae (long muscles along your spine)