In this article we will discuss five (5) supermans exercise alternatives that strength, power, and fitness athletes can integrate into most training programs to build posterior chain strength and hypertrophy. In a recent article, we discussed the supermans exercise in great detail, offering benefits, technique videos, and training considerations.
The Supermans Exercise
Below is brief recap of the supermans exercise, along with a video demonstration showing how this bodyweight movement can be done for static holds or for repetition based training. Both can be used for most levels of lifters and can be a foundational movement for fitness, strength training, and gymnastics.
5 Supermans Exercise Alternatives
Listed below are five (5) supermans exercise alternatives coaches, athletes, and fitness-goers alike can swap into their training routines when looking to develop hip and lower back strength and reinforce proper hip mechanics for athletic movements.
Reverse Hollow Rock
The reverse hollow rock is nearly identical to the supermans exercise with the exception that the lifter performs a rocking motion (similar to a hollow rock, but face down) while isometrically holding themselves in the superman (extended) position. This is a good movement to reinforce proper mechanics and muscle firing patterns, establish greater movement control, and have a transfer to more gymnastic-based movements.
Reverse Chinese Planks
The reverse chinese plank takes the supermans exercise (and the plank) to the next level. Like a chinese plank, a lifter is suspended (like a bridge) from one bench/box to another. In the reverse chinese plank, the lifter faces up towards the sky with a box across the upper back and another under the heels, forcing the hamstrings, glutes, and spinal erectors to isometrically contract and support the load. As you can see in the video below, this forces a lifter to become very rigid and build resistance against spinal extension and flexion (depending on which way they are facing)
The back raise is a staple accessory movement for the strength and muscle development of the lower back and glutes (and some hamstrings). This movement can be done in a hyperextension machine or simply with a glute ham raise apparatus (GHD). Loading can be bodyweight, a barbell on the back, or plates/other loads held in front of the body. It is key to lift with the glutes and hamstrings, keeping the back flat the entire range of motion. Be sure not to go into excessive hyperextension at the top, as this can be detrimental to the lower back and spine under loads.
The barbell good morning is an accessory movement that targets the hamstrings, glutes, and lower/middle back, similar to that of the supermans exercise. Unlike the supermans exercise, you can increase the loading of this movement to strengthen and build muscle hypertrophy more than the supermans exercise. Note, that this exercise does place more loading and stress on the back and hips, and therefore should be mastered with light loads prior to increasing intensity and ranges of motion.
Stability Ball Glute Ham Raise + Curl
This movement is done with a stability/physioball, requiring a lifter to exhibit greater control and muscle contraction (due to the instability of the ball). This exercise targets nearly all of the lower body muscle groups (hamstrings, glutes, and spinal erectors) while also forcing a lifter to stay engaged with the upper back on the floor to aid in the stability of this movement. This can also be done for static holds with straight knees or bent, as well as for more repetition based training, demonstrated below.
Build a Stronger Lower Back
Take a look at the below exercise articles to learn how you can build a stronger and healthier lower back.
- Here’s’ How the Romanian Deadlift Can Boost Back Strength
- Build a Stronger Core to Save the Lower Back
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