Want to strengthen your back? Add the Superman exercise to your core strength routine

superman exercise
How to do the Superman exercise

Build a strong core isn't just about training your abs via exercises like crunches and planks – although those will certainly help.

In addition to your ab muscles, your core also includes your erector spinae muscles – the deep muscles of the back – your diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles, as well as your lats, traps, hips and glutes.

These core muscles all work together to support the spine, providing postural control and stability. This is especially important for runners as it prevents the body from swaying too much when you run, ensuring better running form and better balance.

One move which will build strength in your deep abdominals, as well as your erector spinae muscles, which provide support to your spine and play a key role in back extension, is the Superman exercise.

'The Superman is a similar exercise to the bird dog exercise (which targets erector spinae muscles and glutes) but is less demanding as there are more points of contact with the floor,' says UK Athletics Level 3 performance coach, UKSCA accredited S&C coach and We Run coach for West Yorkshire Graeme Woodward.

'As such, this exercise can be used to develop towards the bird dog. It targets superficial, deep and stabilising muscles in the posterior chain (the muscles along the backside of your body) but has less need for stability through the anterior muscles, making it easier but probably less effective in maintaining spinal health.'

This exercise can irritate the lower back, as that is where most movement and disc-compression will be, so load gradually and in a pain-free range, advises Woodward.

How to do the Superman exercise correctly

superman exercise
  1. Start face down on the floor, with your arms extended in front of you.

  2. Raise your head, your right arm and left leg about five inches off the floor. Try not to raise your shoulders too much.

  3. Hold for a count of three, then lower. Repeat with your right arm and left leg.

Sets/reps: Two sets of 10-15 reps

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