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At a Glance Info:
Targets: Abs, middle back, lower back, glutes
Equipment Needed: None
Crunches are a popular exercise for flattening your stomach and strengthening your core. But if you suffer from back pain or lack the strength to pull yourself up, you may decide to just skip your midsection when working out.
Thankfully, there are other low-impact core exercises that can help you build strength without hurting yourself. One of those exercises is the superman plank, a variation on the traditional plank.
Like any exercise, even the superman plank can lead to injury if you don’t do it properly. That’s why we’ve created this in-depth guide to show you the exact steps for accomplishing this routine. We also cover common mistakes and offer modified superman exercises that you can try if you find the standard positions too difficult.
What is the Superman Plank, and What Are the Benefits?
The superman plank is a core exercise that will help you build strength in your abs, back, and glutes. It gets its name because you look like superman flying through the air when you achieve the right position.
Another huge benefit of this exercise is that you don’t need any equipment to complete the routine, so you can do it nearly anywhere, any time you have a few minutes.
Instructions: How to Do Superman Planks
The superman core workout is an advanced version of the traditional plank. Rather than maintain one position, you’ll lift alternating arms and legs to work your midsection even more.
Warning! Rushing through this routine can lead to muscle strain and other injuries. Take the time to establish proper alignment, and then move slowly as you change positions. There is no benefit to moving faster with this exercise. The results come from maintaining each position.
Start with a Plank
To prepare for the superman plank exercise, you must start with a traditional plank position.
- Get on your hands and knees on carpet, a mat, or another soft surface.
- Drop to your forearms while extending your legs straight back so that you’re balancing on your toes.
- Position your body so that you hold a straight line from your feet to your head. Do not lift your hips or butt to form an angle.
Lift an Alternating Arm and Leg
Once you’re balanced in the traditional plank position, lift and extend your left arm directly in front of you. At the same time, lift and straighten your right leg. Lift your arm and leg just a few inches, maintaining a straight line throughout your body. Hold the position for up to five seconds.
Switch to the Other Arm and Leg
Lower your arm and leg, and then lift the opposite arm and leg in the same position. Hold the position for up to five seconds.
Repeat for Several Sets
Continue alternating arms and legs for several sets as part of your full body workout. If you’d like to challenge yourself further, you can:
- Hold each position a little longer
- Increase the number of reps you do
- Wear ankle and wrist weights for added resistance
Common Mistakes to Avoid With Superman Plank
The superman plank is an easy workout, but there are some bad habits you may pick up that will diminish the effectiveness of the exercise. Review each of these common mistakes to make sure you maintain proper form.
Some people tend to hold their breath when holding strenuous positions. Resist the urge to do this as not breathing raises your blood pressure and denies your muscles the oxygen they need to keep going.
Bending Your Limbs
When you lift your arm and leg for the superman abs workout, you may extend yourself to the point that you look more like a bowl rather than a straight line. Keep your limbs parallel to the ground to properly work your muscles and prevent injury.
Pointing Your Toes
Another natural inclination when doing the superman core workout is to point your foot. While this does visually create a straighter line, it also takes the exercise’s focus off your core and redirects it to your leg. When doing this workout, be sure to relax your foot so that it points downward.
Not Maintaining Proper Alignment
You need to have good balance when doing a superman plank. Otherwise, you may put more weight on one side of your body. In addition to overworking your muscles, this bad alignment can lead to muscle strain and injury. To stay balanced, don’t worry about moving into position so quickly. Take your time to ensure perfect form.
Alternating Positions Too Quickly
The purpose of the superman plank is to build strength and stability in your core. To achieve this, you must hold the position for several seconds before alternating limbs. You’ll know that you’ve held the position long enough when you feel your sides and lower back tense.
Variations for Superman Planks
Superman planks require strength, balance, and coordination. If you find the exercise too difficult to complete, you can try one of the variations below. They’ll help you build up the stamina you need for the real thing.
Modified Superman Plank #1
Rather than balance on your forearms and toes at the start of this exercise, balance on your hands and knees. This will redistribute your weight so that you can better maintain the necessary position. Once you’re balanced, continue the exercise as described, raising an arm and the opposite leg several inches for a few seconds before alternating.
Modified Superman Plank #2
If you still find the previous modified superman exercise too difficult, try this alternative. Rather than balance on hands and knees, lie completely flat, with your arms extended in front of you. For this exercise, you don’t have to worry about holding up your body; instead, you’ll just concentrate on lifting alternating arms and legs.
Falling over while extending your arms and legs during a superman plank may be a sign that you lack the core strength to balance and hold the position. In this case, go back to perfecting the traditional plank for a little while longer so you can build up stamina. Try holding the plank position for 30 seconds before attempting the superman plank again.
Now that you know the proper way to do superman planks, you can work this easy exercise into your routine. Soon enough, you’ll notice a stronger midsection and back that will improve your balance, stamina, and posture. Looking for more ways to work your abs? Check out our guide on how to build core strength from nothing.