Pilates exercises – Swimming / superman exercise

What does Swimming/superman exercise do?

This exercise is aimed at training good pelvic and lumbar spine control as well as scapulaothoracic joint (shoulder blade region) stability in a weight bearing position. It is also a great gluteal muscle strengthening exercise.

This exercise also engages the body’s Posterior Oblique Sling (consisting of latissimus dorsi and glute maximus) and the deep Longitudinal Sling (consisting of erector spinae, SIJ ligaments and deep lumbo-pelvic fascia).

This is a great exercise for swimmers or sports players requiring overhead activity.


Starting in a four point kneeling (all fours) position. Your knees should be directly under your hips and hands just slightly forwards to your shoulders. The elbows should be soft so the insides of the elbows are facing each other. Your head and neck should be long and aligned with the spine and the pelvis in a neutral position.

Video – how to do the Pilates Swimming exercise

Steps for exercise

Inhale to prepare.

Exhale reaching your right arm forwards, at the same time reach the opposite leg away and off the mat as far as you can control.

Inhale and bring the leg and arm back to the start position.

Repeat alternating arms and legs.


To make the exercise a little easier:

  • Start with just your arm movements
  • Start with just your leg movements
  • keep your foot in contact with the floor (closed chain)

To make the exercise a little more challenging:

  • Place a foam roller under your hands
  • Add a theraband in one hand and around opposite foot to add resistance to the movement.

Top Tips

“Imagine you have a tray of drinks on your back you do not want to spill” – aiming to keep a neutral position of your spine throughout.

Avoid Doing this exercise if you have spondylolisthesis of your spine.

If you are unsure whether this exercise is suitable for you, you should always seek professional medical advice.

See more Pilates exercises