We often talk about training to look like superheroes—we’ve built whole programs at Men’s Health around the concept—but there are some exercises that take that idea to the next level and emulate the moves comic book legends have made iconic.
Superman pushups are the most obvious example of this style of exercise, but that maneuver is more of a technical challenge to master than a staple you can fit into your daily routine. There are other, more reliable moves you can include in your training plan to train like the Man of Steel, like this Superman plank hold from Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.
“If you’ve ever wanted to look like a superhero (I have since I first saw Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine), this move gets you that—and much much more,” says Samuel. “Essentially, we’re blending a single-arm plank, a challenging move to perfect in its own right, with an overhead Pallof press here. That means a blend of challenges for your core. The single-arm press challenges the anti-rotation aspects of your core severely; make sure to keep hips and shoulders square throughout this move.”
You’ll develop a core of steel, and that pose looks just like Superman in flight.
To pull off the Superman plank hold, you’ll need a resistance band and a low anchor to secure it. If you need a solid option, check out this set of bands from WODFitters.
Men’s Health/Eric Rosati
- Get down on the ground next to the anchor point in a solid plank position. Hold one end of the band in the hand on the opposite side of the anchor.
- Extend the arm holding the band straight out, like Superman in flight. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds. Squeeze your glutes and core to maintain your position.
- Repeat the presses for the prescribed reps without returning your elbow to the ground. Shift positions and perform reps on the opposite side.
The exercise forces your entire core to get to work once you extend your arm, which threatens to throw you off balance. “To resist this, you must turn on your lats, obliques, and abs—all while continuing to balance out the anti-rotary challenge of the single-arm plank,” says Samuel.
But your abs aren’t the only muscle getting the superhero treatment. “The other underrated awesome aspect of this move is what it does for your shoulder flexion,” says Samuel. “The single-arm plank position insures that your ribcage stays closed and tight to the body for the duration of each set. That means that when you’re moving your arm into that straight-arm position, you get a more true idea of your own personal shoulder flexion.”
Take on the Superman plank hold as an ab workout for 3 sets of 8 reps per side. Just be ready to pick a lighter resistance band than you expect to start out with—you’re not made of steel just yet.
For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.
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