What are Superman Push-Ups?

The superman push-up is a push-up variation where your limbs are in an extended position, which means your hands are reached out as far forward as they can away from your body, whilst your feet are together. This variation will require a significant amount of chest, triceps, and core activation.

 

There are two variations of the superman push-ups that will be covered in this article. The first version is performed with both your hands and feet on the floor. Whereas, the second variation, also known as the flying push-ups has an explosive element to it, which requires you to push through your hands and feet into the ground to explosively propel your entire body off the ground. This variation is a plyometric exercise that is performed at a higher intensity, and it’ll make you be a flying hero.

 

The superman push-ups are one of the best push-up variations for developing your core strength and is indeed one of the most advanced plank variation which targets the obliques and abdominals. According to research, maintaining good endurance of the trunk and hip muscles (core) has been considered important for sports performance, injury prevention, and rehabilitation. Moreover, a study has found that plyometric push-ups provide an effective way of developing maximum force and muscular power. 

What Muscles are Worked by Superman Push-Ups?

The primary muscles worked are the pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, triceps, abdominals, and obliques. The secondary muscle worked are the latissimus dorsi, erector spine (lower back), quadriceps, and glutes.

What Level are Superman Push-Ups?

The superman push-up is an advanced level exercise as it will take your push-up hame to a whole new level, it looks super impressive and requires a significant amount of muscle activation from your core, chest, triceps, and glutes to rise up. You will be required to be able to perform at least 12+ standard push-ups. Learn how to increase your push-ups count here.

Those who are at beginner’s to intermediate level, don’t you worry! This article will cover the best progressions so that all fitness levels can advance towards achieving this cool move.

Superman Push-Ups Progressions

Superman Hand Walkout

The superman hand walkout is a great beginner's exercise to condition your core and shoulder muscles for the superman push-ups. It activates and enhances the whole body. To perform this you will:

  1. Begin in a standing position with your feet together and arms by your sides.
  2. Reach your hands towards the ground in front of your toes. You can bend your knees slightly if you lack hamstrings flexibility. This is your starting position
  3. Slowly walk your hands forwards fast the push-up position until you are in a superman position where your arms are fully extended over your head. Your body should be parallel to the ground. Engaged your core and glutes throughout this movement.
  4. Gradually walk back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat this movement between 2-8 reps for 3 sets.



Extended Plank

Extended plank is static hold exercise where you will begin in a plank position and extend your arms forward into a superman position. This exercise will develop your core strength, along with your shoulders and back muscles for the superman push-ups. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin in a push-up position with your arms shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly on top of your wrists, and your feet are together. Engage your core and glutes.
  2. Slowly walk your hands forward in front of your head until your arms are fully extended. Your body should be parallel to the ground with your back being straight. Maintain core and glutes engagement.
  3. Hold this position between 8-45 seconds for 4 sets.

Extended Arms Push-Ups

This variation is a partial superman push-up, where your arms are slightly extended forward in front of you. As you get stronger, you will gradually extend your arms with the aim of them being fully locked out. The key is to brace your whole body! To perform this, you will:

  1. Start in a push-up with your arms shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly on top of your wrists, and your feet are together. Engage your core and glutes.
  2. Walk your hands 2-4 small steps forward to be in a partial superman position. Maintain an active core engagement. This is your starting position.
  3. Inhale as you lower your body down towards the ground by bending the elbows. Keep lowering until your elbows touches the ground.
  4. Exhale as your push-up to return to your starting position.
  5. Repeat this movement between 3-10 reps for 3 sets. As you get stronger, you can walk your hands further forward until your arms are fully extended!

Superman Push-Ups

Finally, after you've practiced the previous progressions consistently for 2-3 sessions a week for over 4 weeks, you should be able to do superman push-ups!

  1. Lie On Your Belly

Start by lying on your belly with your arms reaching past your head at shoulder-width. Your fingers are spread out and your core and glutes are tight. This is your starting position.

2. Press Down With Your Hands And Feet

Exhale as you engage your core and quadriceps as you push down with both your hands and feet to raise your body up, being parallel to the floor. Only your hands and feet remains grounded.

3. Lower Down

Inhale as you gradually lower down to the starting position. Your body should remain in a straight line with core and glutes being engaged throughout the movement.

4. Repeat

Repeat this movement between 3-15 reps for 4 sets (see the recommended reps and sets ranges below).

Superman Push-Ups Workout

  • Beginners should perform between 3-5 reps, for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
  • Intermediate level athletes should perform between 6-14 reps, for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
  • Advanced level athletes should perform 15+ reps or more for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

You should move on to flying push-ups once you have achieved your reps and set goals.

What are the Benefits of Superman Push-Up?

Abs Of Steel

Superman push-ups primarily target your abs, forcing them to contract powerfully to keep your body parallel to the ground. This exercise is incredible for developing your core and will a positive carry-over and help you with other calisthenics skills such as pull-ups, muscle-ups, front lever, and back lever. Your core is one of the foundational strength in calisthenics, having a strong core will permit you to achieve skills at a faster rate.

Improve Posture

Strengthening the back muscles such as the lats and the erector spinae (lower back) can help improve posture, prevent back pain, and secure stability of the spine. Therefore strong back muscles promote correct posture. Superman push-ups demand your entire torso to stabilize its movement, by doing so will cultivate the muscles accountable for decreasing lower back pressure.

Stronger Legs

In addition to your core, superman push-ups target your leg muscles, especially your glutes and quadriceps are being worked as the secondary muscles to assist in lifting your body off the ground whilst keeping it straight. In this variation, you will need to squeeze your legs more than you would in standard push-ups in order to push your toes into the ground to elevate your torso. Therefore, your lower half will be getting the muscle toning benefits of this compound exercise.

Flying Push-Ups

Flying Push-Ups Progressions

You need to be able to do 12+ bodyweight push-ups comfortably before attempting this variation. The exercises listed below will be from easy to hard, so make sure that you are comfortable with the exercise you’re working on before moving on to harder progressions.

Explosive Push-Ups

Explosive push-ups build a great deal of strength, power, and coordination for the flying push-ups. It is a form of plyometric workout which is used to develop your pushing strength and explosive force. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin in a push-up position where your arms are shoulder-width apart, your shoulders are stacked directly on top of your wrists, and your feet are together. Engage your glutes and core to ensure your body is in a straight line. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale as you lower your body towards the ground by bending both elbows. Keep lowering until your triceps are parallel to the floor.
  3. Exhale as you forcefully push your hands into the ground to propel your torso up and away from the ground as fast as possible. Your hands should also leave the ground. Keep your core tight throughout this movement. 
  4. Land softly on your hands, bending the elbows to cushion the landing.
  5. Repeat this movement between 4-18 reps for 4 sets.

 

Clapping Push-Ups

Once you get the hang of explosive push-ups, you can progress to clapping push-ups to make the movement more difficult by clapping your hands together each time you propel your body into the air. This increases a substantial coordination element to the exercise. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin in a push-up position where your arms are shoulder-width apart, your shoulders are stacked directly on top of your wrists, and your feet are together. Engage your glutes and core to ensure your body is in a straight line. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale as you lower your body towards the ground by bending both elbows. Keep lowering until your triceps are parallel to the floor.
  3. Exhale as you forcefully push your hands into the ground to propel your torso up and away from the ground as fast as possible. Clap your hands at the center of your chest in mid-air. Aim to get as much height as possible with each explosive rep.
  4. Land softly on your hands, bending the elbows to cushion the landing. 
  5. Repeat this movement between 4-18 reps for 4 sets.

Plank Hops

Plank hops are a great exercise that combines core and cardio in a single movement. This will also prepare you to get used to pushing your toes into the ground to explosively lift your body off the ground during the pushing phase of the flying push-ups. It is highly recommended that you superset this exercise with either explosive push-ups or clapping push-ups. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin in a push-up position where your arms are shoulder-width apart, your shoulders are stacked directly on top of your wrists, and your feet are together. Engage your glutes and core to ensure your body is in a straight line. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale as you bend your knees slightly to sink your hips moderately into the ground.
  3. Exhale as you subsequently flex your quads, elevate your hips and push your toes into the ground to straighten your legs, and hop both feet off the floor. Keep your core tight throughout this movement.
  4. Repeat this movement between 8-20 reps for 4 sets.

Full Body Explosive Push-Ups

Now that you have developed your explosive power and coordination, you can move on to this exercise, where you will perform a standard plyometric push-up to bring both your hands and feet off the fround. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin in a push-up position where your arms are shoulder-width apart, your shoulders are stacked directly on top of your wrists, and your feet are together. Engage your glutes and core to ensure your body is in a straight line. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale as you lower your body towards the ground by bending both elbows. Keep lowering until your triceps are parallel to the floor.
  3. Exhale as you forcefully push your hands and toes into the ground to propel your torso up and away from the ground as fast as possible. Your body will be airborne. Maintain core engagement throughout this movement.
  4. Land softly on your hands, bending the elbows to cushion the landing. 
  5. Repeat this movement between 4-10 reps for 4 sets.

Partial Superman Push-Ups

Partial superman push-ups will require you to explosively push yourself up as high as possible, bringing both your hands and feet off the ground. You will slightly extend your arms out straight in front of you to get used to the movement path of the flying push-ups. To perform this, you will:

  1. Begin in a push-up position where your arms are shoulder-width apart, your shoulders are stacked directly on top of your wrists, and your feet are together. Engage your glutes and core to ensure your body is in a straight line. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale as you lower your body towards the ground by bending both elbows. Keep lowering until your triceps are parallel to the floor.
  3. Exhale as you forcefully push your hands and toes into the ground to propel your torso up and away from the ground as fast as possible. Reach your arms forward in front of you and straighten them slightly. Your body will be airborne. Maintain core engagement throughout this movement.
  4. Land softly on your hands, bending the elbows to cushion the landing.
  5. Repeat this movement between 4-10 reps for 4 sets.

Flying Push-Ups

After practicing the previous 5 progressions consistently for 2-3 sessions per week, you should be able to unleash your inner superhero power by performing flying push-ups! Don't rush t achieve this skill, but rather enjoy and embrace the process. Consistency is key!

  1. Begin in a plank position

Start in a push-up position, with your arms shoulder-width apart, your shoulders are stacked directly on top of your wrists, and your feet are together. Engagement your glutes and core to maintain a straight body. This is your starting position.

2. Gradually Lower down

Inhale as you lower your body towards the ground by bending both elbows. Keep lowering until your triceps are parallel to the floor. 

3. Explosively Push Back Up

Exhale as you forcefully push your hands and toes into the ground to propel your torso up and away from the ground as fast as possible. Extend your arms out fully in front of you, whilst keeping your body in a straight line. Your core is engaged throughout this movement.

4. Land Softly

Land softly on your hands, bending the elbows to cushion the landing. 

5. Repeat

Repeat this movement between 2-10 reps for 4 sets (see the recommended reps and sets ranges below).

Superman Push-Ups Workout

  • Beginners should perform between 2-5 reps, for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
  • Intermediate level athletes should perform between 6-14 reps, for 4 sets, 3 times a week.
  • Advanced level athletes should perform 15+ reps or more for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

About the Author

My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.