At-home exercises like the superman allow you to work muscles without going to the gym. Find out how to do it.
The superman is an exercise where you lie down on your stomach and then lift your chest, arms, and legs off the ground.
This movement mainly works your erector spinae aka the core muscles in your lower back.
The first thing to note is that some people will find supermans too uncomfortable on their lower back.
Secondly, the superman exercise only involves a relatively small range of motion which is typically not preferred to see results.
In simpler words, many people will either prefer one of the more comfortable or one of the more effective superman exercise alternatives.
How to do a superman exercise
Something soft to lie down on can make the superman exercise more comfortable.
With that in mind, take the following steps to do the superman exercise:
- Lie down on your stomach with your legs together and your arms pointing forward.
- Slowly raise your chest and hips (with your arms and legs) as far as comfortable. Keep your neck in line with your upper body.
- Lower your body back to starting position in a controlled motion.
Especially if you are unsure what your body can deal with, you want to do supermans slowly so you don’t overdo it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to keep your neck in line with your upper body.
Lastly, you can do both a superman hold or up-down repetitions. The more dynamic version tends to be more effective if you don’t find it too uncomfortable.
Superman exercise muscles worked
The superman exercise mainly works the muscles in your lower back called your erector spinae.
Your glutes and shoulder muscles have to work in tiny amounts too.
To grow and strengthen muscles you typically want to move these through big range of motions.
An exception to this is if these bigger range of motions feel too uncomfortable.
In that case, you can do isometric aka static exercises.
You may notice that the superman exercise is not that good in both of these categories.
It makes your muscles go through a small range of motion but does put your back in an uncomfortable position.
That means if you are able to do supermans, you would likely also be able to do more effective exercises.
At the same time, you can still see positive effects from doing the superman exercise if you implement the right rep and set ranges.
For something like muscle growth, you would do something like 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 supermans.
Potentially while wearing ankle weights and/or holding weights in your hands to make the movement more challenging.
Superman exercise benefits
As mentioned, even though this is typically not the best exercise available, supermans can still offer you some of the following benefits:
- Stronger muscles: Doing enough supermans with enough pressure can help you grow and strengthen your muscles.
- No equipment or location required: If they are not too easy, supermans allow you to work your muscles without equipment or a gym subscription.
- May prevent back pain: Strengthening your lower back muscles with the superman exercise can help you reduce your risk of back pain (1, 2). People who already have this issue likely want to choose other options.
If you like doing the superman exercise and these benefits align with your training goals, you could consider doing this movement more often.
Superman exercise alternatives
By now, you may wonder what these more comfortable and more effective superman exercise alternatives are.
A few examples are:
- Bridge exercise
- Good morning
- Back extension
- Reverse plank
- Bent-over barbell row
What superman exercise alternatives are the best for you depends on what muscles you want to work and what movements your body can deal with.
Is the superman a good exercise?
The superman exercise can grow and strengthen your erector spinae lower back muscles to some extent.
At the same time, you can not really say the superman is a good exercise either for two main reasons.
First of all, the spine hyperextension involved can be too uncomfortable in the lower back for many people.
Secondly, the range of motion involved in the superman exercise is relatively small which is generally suboptimal for muscle growth and strength progress.
The result of these things is that you will likely prefer one of the better alternatives available.
However, it is worth mentioning that your personal preference matters too.
If you really like doing the superman exercise, you could still consider adding it to your workout routine.
What is the superman exercise good for?
The superman exercise is mainly good for working your lower back muscles to some extent. Even for this, there are better alternatives.
How long should you hold a superman?
While more dynamic supermans tend to be more effective, you could hold a superman for 3 to 30 seconds per set and more than 80 to 150 seconds per workout to grow your lower back muscles.
Are supermans good for core strength?
Supermans are decent for strength in your lower back core muscles. There are more effective exercises too.