19 March 2013

Essential Exercises: Superman variations

These are great to throw into your floor ab workout to give your abs a break. I'm a big fan of circuit training in the sense of using your "break" between sets to work a different or complementary muscle group. Then you take a "break" from that one and go back to the  first exercise since now that muscle group is sufficiently rested. I actually like to do four different exercises in circuit. For example, I would do a set each of squats, push ups, calf raises and then planks, and do that twice without any rest between each set. That way, I rested my legs during the arm exercises and rested my arms during the leg exercises, and I didn't waste any time.

Anyway, today I bring you, supermans!
I'm not talking about this guy, but these are inspired by his flying style. How can wearing an outfit that tight be comfortable? And if that blue thing is a one piece, how does he go to the bathroom? Bet you never thought if that, eh?

Below is an example of what I'm talking about and there are a few different versions I think you should try. If you're doing core exercises of any sort (i.e. crunches), you need to make sure to work your lower back in addition to your abs in order to stay balanced. Fortunately, a lot of full body exercises like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, etc. work your abs as well as your back, but it doesn't hurt to add in a few of these too. Like I mentioned above, I like to rollover and do these when my abs get too tired if I'm doing crunches or other floor work. By the time I'm done, my abs have recovered and I can do another set.

Note: I recommend keeping you head looking at least slight downward, staying in line with your body and not looking up like in the photo. Source
General movement:

Lay on your stomach with your arms straight out in front. You want to keep your arms and legs straight and your feet pointed during the entire exercise. From here, you raise your arms and legs simultaneously and bring them down together, stopping just above the ground. Keep going and don't let your arms and legs stop and rest at the bottom. Make sure you moving intentionally and using your muscles rather than just kind of flopping your arms and legs up and down. This general movement isn't shown above, but take the legs of A and the arms of B and put them together. You want to engage your glutes, abs and shoulder blades, although these will mainly use your back. I also suggest keeping your head in line with your body rather than looking up or straight ahead like in the photo above. I usually keep my ears basically between my arms. For all of these, I generally do sets of 25.

Variation A: Lower body only

Keeping your upper body still, raise your feet and legs up and down. Really try to keep your upper body from moving and isolate your movement to your lower back and down. I usually have my forehead on the floor/mat when I do these and I keep my chest and arms against the ground.

Variation B: Upper body only

Same idea as A except opposite. You keep your lower body in place and work your upper body by raising and lower it. Make sure you keep your arms straight. It's easy to cheat and bend your arms, but this actually makes the exercise easier and you

Variation C: Supermans

In this variation you lift alternate arms and legs. So you'd lift your right arm and left leg, then put those down and lift your left arm and right leg.

Variation D: Flutterkicks

I call these flutterkicks. There is not a picture for these, but the general idea is like A (lifting your lower body only), but you lift one leg at a time. These are quick so you'll probably find yourself doing about twice as many as any of the other variations.

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