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Proper Superman Pushup

author image Kim Nunley
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.
Proper Superman Pushup
A close up of a man's hands as he does pushups on a beach. Photo Credit Brett Mulcahy/Hemera/Getty Images

The pushup is amongst the most versatile strength exercises because you can tweak your hand and feet placement to increase difficulty and emphasize specific muscles. The Superman pushup is an extremely challenging exercise that requires a high level of core and upper body strength. The traditional pushup works the chest, shoulders and triceps, but due to the different hand placement, the Superman pushup works different muscles.

Getting Prepped

The traditional pushup involves placing your hands on the floor so that they’re positioned just outside your torso and level with your chest. The Superman pushup, however, requires you to lie on your stomach and extend your arms out in front of you so that your hands are positioned beyond your head and at shoulder-width apart. With your legs and arms fully extended, set your toes and palms against the floor to prepare for the exercise.

Exercise Execution

Lift your torso and thighs off the floor by pushing your palms and toes into the floor. Your body will rise up no more than 12 inches off the floor. Control your body back to the floor and then go into the next repetition. Your torso and thighs should stay straight and your legs and arms should remain fully extended throughout the entire exercise.

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Working Your Way Up

The Superman pushup is challenging for most to complete. You’ll need to build isometric strength in your core before you’ll be able to successfully complete a rep. You can do this by incorporating the front plank exercise into your regimen two to three days per week. From a front-lying position, lift up onto your elbows and toes to lift your thighs and torso off the floor and hold your body up for as long as you can. As you build strength, perform the front plank from your hands instead of your elbows, and gradually move your hands out away from you to increase the challenge on your core.

Muscles Emphasized

The Superman pushup doesn’t primarily work your chest, shoulders and triceps like the traditional pushup. Instead, it challenges your latissimus dorsi, which is the broadest muscle in your back. Your latissimus dorsi is responsible for extending your arms behind you. As you push your hands into the floor, your lats are attempting to drive your arms back. The pectoralis major in your chest does contribute to shoulder extension. In addition, your abdominals, obliques and hip flexors isometrically work to keep your torso in a straight line and prevent it from collapsing it to the floor as you lift and lower your body.

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