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There’s no doubting that conventional ab exercises like the crunch strengthen the abs, but they also pull your spine out of position, which can set you up for lower-back pain down the line. Use the Superman pushup in place of crunching movements, and you’ll build not only heroic abs, but an iron core that will strengthen other lifts like the overhead press and squat.
Stabilizing your body in the top position of the Superman pushup ensures that you’re hitting the rectus abdominis (your six-pack muscle) as well as the obliques. Your spinal erectors are also working hard. If the exercise is too difficult, spread your legs farther apart.
1. Lie facedown on the floor with your hands placed about six inches past the top of your head. Your legs should be straight, with your feet together.
2. Push your hands into the floor while bracing your abs and back so that your torso rises six inches to one foot off the floor. You’ll look like you’re flying. Hold for three seconds, then lower yourself back down. That’s one rep. Aim for about three sets of 5 reps, or 10 holds of 30 seconds or more.
For a big-time ab burn, work this exercise into a day when you’re training the overhead press; you won’t compromise strength on either move.