Nearly every move your body makes relies on your core strength. The swing of an arm, the kick of a leg, your balance--they all come down to how strong your core is. When it comes to building and maintaining that core strength, one of the best exercises you can use is the alternating superman exercise. Simple enough to be done by anyone of any fitness level and free of weights or machinery, it can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Step One: Prepare Yourself and the Space
Make sure that you have plenty of space to perform this exercise correctly. Essentially, you should be able to lie flat on the ground with your arms stretched above your head and your legs straight, so your body is in a "plank" position. Generally, the area of a yoga mat with a about a foot of space around it is plenty of room. The more space the better.
Ensure that your body is stretched and ready to be worked out. Stretch out your arms, legs and torso. The alternating superman exercise works your core muscles including your internal and external obliques, your transversus abdominals (the deepest abdominal muscles in your torso--they wrap around the sides of your torso), the rectus abdominus (the muscles sitting on the outermost area of your body), and the abdominal muscles responsible for strengthening your lower back and controlling your breathing. Along with your abdominal muscles, this exercise also works your triceps, hamstrings and quadriceps.
Step Two: Perform the Exercise Correctly
Begin the exercise by lying on your stomach with your arms stretched out above your head and your legs straight out behind you with your toes pointed but relaxed. Slowly raise your right arm off the ground while at the same time lifting your left leg off the ground. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds, then release. You can see where the "alternating superman exercise" gets its name. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg. Continue to complete 10 reps of these sets.
Step Three: Keep Your Breathing Consistent
This is a simple but tough exercise to perform and has extraordinary results when done properly. Remember to keep your breathing steady while doing this exercise and to contract your muscles on an exhale, relax on an inhale. Keeping your breathing relaxed and consistent can help sustain the "superman" position and ultimately increase the effectiveness of the alternating superman exercise.
By performing this exercise correctly and efficiently, you can potentially shape and tone your entire core and increase your body's core strength as a whole. One of the great benefits of this specific core exercise is that it helps tone and shape your arms and legs at the same time. It's like performing three different exercises all at once. It is a great exercise to do if you are searching for something to push your abdominal toning regimen to its limit and increase the effectiveness of all your exercises.