The Right Way

The ‘Superman’ Exercise Works All 360 Degrees of Your Core if You Do It the Right Way

Follow me on a little experiment, reader, and bring one hand to your core. If your fingers are brushing just below your ribs, you're missing a huge part of this all-important muscle group. Per the Mayo Clinic, 29 (29!) pairs of muscles wrap around your midsection to form your "core." And on this week's episode of Well+Good's YouTube series The Right Way, trainer Bridget O'Carroll teaches you how to use the superman exercise to work, well...most of them.

"Superman is a great movement for your core, which is not just the front of your abdomen," says O'Carroll at the top of the video. "We're going to get a little more back activation in this one." If you've never heard of superhero exercise before, it's a staple in yoga class (called viparita shalabhasana in Sanskrit) and is also a great way to warm up your back before you get into some upper body strength training.

Superman involves lying down on your stomach with your legs together, placing your hands out in front of you, and lifting your legs and arms off the ground. Like all exercises, however, there's a right and wrong way to do it—and O'Carroll has seen it all.

The first common mistake folks make in superman? Shrugging your shoulders up to your ears. Instead, relax them down your back as much as you can so you don't create unnecessary tension in your upper back, neck, and shoulders.

Second, O'Carroll says people tend to lift their upper bodies too high in superman, creating unnecessary back tension. You can simply hover your body slightly off the ground to get just as much out of this exercise.

And last, but not least, O'Carroll adds that people often separate their legs in this exercise, which is also no good for your back body. Keep them glued together to engage your glutes and protect your lower back.

Once you've checked your body for these three common mistakes, you're ready to do superman exercise the right way and get intimate with some of those 29 core muscles that you might sometimes overlook.

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