From comic books to movies, from lunch boxes to tees, from theme parks to birthday party themes, superheroes are all the rage. They are so popular and deeply ingrained in our pop culture and daily lives that we use superhero references to describe and discuss things routinely. Who wouldn’t want muscles like that of He-Man or the strength of Superman or the agility of Spider-Man?The sad tale of home workout gear
It was just a matter of time before superheroes, among the fittest fictional characters in the universe, entered the realm of fitness in our world and inspired moves that would help human beings become fitter, stronger and more lithe. Here are a handful of exercises inspired by the signature moves of various superheroes.
Spider-Man Push-ups:This exercise is inspired by the way Spider-Man crawls on walls in the comic books. And what a great move this is for everything including warm-up, upper body strength training, core and mobility. It is a dynamic movement where you engage your core a lot more than in a regular push-up, since you need to move your legs one at a time. This helps load the core and increases the resistance on the upper body and triceps.
You start in a high plank and then as you lower your torso towards the floor, you fold one leg at the knee and bring it up your side to the elbow and then move it back to the starting position as you push yourself up and away from the floor. Repeat this on the other side and that counts as one rep.
As a mobility exercise, you could perform the Spider-Man crawl. Not only is it a great mobility move to open up your hips and shoulders, but also adds an element of cardio to your strength training. If a regular Spider-Man push-up feels easy, try slowing down the move and feel the burn. And to take it up by another level, wear a weighted vest.
Wolverines: This is another move that’s inspired from a popular Marvel character, albeit one that requires equipment. You would need a cable crossover machine or light weight resistance bands to perform this one. It mimics the mutant superhero’s signature move in which his claws are out, and he brings them down from his chest level to either side of his hips in preparation to attack.
The cable crossover machine gives you the flexibility to choose a weight that works for you but if you don’t have access to one, you could do this same move with a couple of light weight resistance bands. This is a targeted exercise for your upper back, which doesn’t get involved enough when you work with free weights. Secondary muscles that feel the burn are lats and triceps. Have fun and see the difference when you add this move to your “back” days.
Superman: This is one of the easier superhero exercises. You may well have performed a Sumerman at some point in time already, even if you don’t really exercise. This is a simple but excellent move that strengthens the lower back muscles and also works the core. It can be performed both as a static hold and as a dynamic move counting reps.
To do this, you simply lie on the floor on your tummy and mimic the DC superhero’s famous flying pose by lifting your legs, arms and chest off the floor, while contracting your lower back and engaging your core. If you this pose for 30 seconds to a minute, then you would be performing it as a static hold exercise. On the other hand, if you hold it for a couple of seconds before returning to the starting position and repeating it again for 8 to 10 reps, then you would be performing it as a dynamic lower back strengthening exercise.
Superman Push-ups: This move is perhaps the most difficult one on this list, but if you can pull it off, you’d be left feeling pleased about what you can still do with your body. The Superman push-up is but a regular push-up with some flying involved. It is an explosive movement and rather than improving your strength or agility, it is serves more as evidence of your fitness levels.
You start with the high plank, go down into a push-up and then push yourself up with enough power so that for a fraction of a second, your body is entirely in the air. This is the top of the push-up where your airborne body is parallel to the floor, while your hands and legs are stretched out copying the flight of Superman. Before you can do this, you would have to master the regular, plyometric and clapping push-ups.
The muscle groups worked by this extreme push-up are the same as those involved in a regular push-up. But this variation engages the core muscles much more, and requires you to have greater stability and control. After all, you have to land safely back in the high plank starting position, for the move to be a success.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.