All posts in Bodyweight Training

The SUPERDOG Exercise

Today I share with you a great posterior chain activation method and exercise. It was developed by my wonderful guy Nick Tumminello.

Nick is known among his colleagues, clients and fitness peers as a very innovative guy when it comes to training. He not only comes up with fun, challenging and effective programs but he also has a knack for safe training methods and developing new protocols for improved versions of commonly known exercises. Over the past two years, I have learned so much from training together.
One of Nick’s most recognized creations is the Superdog. You may have heard of this exercise before, and if not, you’ll be glad you did today!
WHAT is the Superdog and WHY is it so great!?

The Superdog is a combination of the superman and bird dog exercise. The Superdog however, offers the same posterior-chain work as the superman and bird dog, but without the risk of putting your lower back into hyperextension.
WHEN is a great time to incorporate the Superdog? 

We use the Superdog for two different occasions, both exceptional for training.

1. Warm up / movement prep. This is a fantastic glute activation drill and will challenge even the strongest male and female athletes. We often think “no problem” to complete the heel/leg lift until we take the low back out of the equation. This drill really clues you in to whether or not your low back or glutes are doing the lifting. (There are also progressions and regressions for this exercise if one needs to start small and build up).

2. Within the program. We have been using this exercise on lower body training days to accompany a quad dominant exercise. Because I am limited on some exercises due to the nature of my low back injury, this has become a great tool to target the glutes and hamstrings while keeping the low back safe. Again, there are several ways to progress this exercise (ie: mechanics or add a small ankle weight.)
How to perform the Superdog:

  • Get down on all fours (a soft surface is recommended). Hands directly under your shoulders, knees under your hips.
  • Slide your hips back, so your left heel touches your left glute (you will also be resting on your forearms at this point).
  • Extend your right leg behind you, keeping your leg aligned with your body and your toe dorsiflexed.
  • Without deviating from this position, lift your right leg up as high you can off the floor. Keep your right leg as straight as possible. (For a bit more intensity, perform without touching your toe to the floor until your set is complete.)
  • Do all your reps with that side, and then switch.



Incorporating into the Superdog into your program:

Warm up / Movement prep: I would suggest about 8-12 reps per leg.

For active rest or as part of your superset / tri-set / etc. I would recommend 20-25 repetitions per leg.

Example: Reverse Lunges 15- 20 per leg paired with Superdog 20-25 per leg.
The following is a YouTube clip of Nick talking about (and demonstrating) his Superdog exercise. Here he incorporates the arms too which is the original version. The above Superdog I have shown you is a modified version that we use for training.

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Be sure to give this a try…it may surprise even the fittest of you how challenging it is! I highly recommend you start incorporating this into your warm up on your lower body training day. Not only is it good practice, but by activating your glutes you will significantly increase the engagement of your glute’s role in the squats, lunges, etc. Your backside (and your significant other) will thank you! :)
Check back soon, I will provide you with a more recent version of the Superdog to put less emphasis on the hamstrings and even more emphasis on the glutes!

New Core Exercise: Forward Abs Plank Meets Mountain Climber!

The jury is out on what core / abdominal exercises are safe and effective. I personally keep to a select handful when it comes to my training as well as my clients training.

My thought process is this: 1. Is it covering one of the three areas of core training (rotation, stability, strength) 2. Is it safe on the lumbar spine? 3. Which is greater - the risk or benefit of the drill?

A few months ago, Nick introduced me to a core exercise. I took it one step further with a different piece of equipment and it has since become one of my favorite new core exercises. I use this regularly in session and with clients. I call this “Forward Abs Plank Meets Mountain Climber.”

This exercise is great for shoulder stability, core strength and core stability. It minimizes unsafe movements commonly seen in many abdominal routines PLUS it offers the “burn” everyone likes to feel as reps increase.  

The following pictures are to demo the exercise:

 How To:
 - I recommend using a Dynamax Ball. This allows for a bit more  control and therefore, better execution of the drill (rather than using a traditional Medicine Ball which will roll around more). I also like the Dynamax Ball because it puts your torso at a slightly higher angle.

 - Try 20 to 30 repetitions per set.
 - Alternate legs / knee drive.
 - Drive your knee straight forward as high as possible. (Do not touch front foot to the floor). Be sure to maintain proper plank form (back / hips in neutral). Pause for a 2 second hold with each knee drive, then switch.

**An alternative way to do this exercise is to bring your knee to the outside of your elbow. AKA: Lateral Knee Drive. This will engage your obliques more.

Same applications apply :)

Good luck! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Happy Training :)