This warm-up from Justin Jacobs doesn’t just prep you for a workout—it primes you for life.
Superman’s iconic pose wasn’t just for showmanship. When you stand with your back straight, chest lifted, and arms open, you appear mightier and feel more confident. And according to research by Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy, Ph.D., the effect isn’t just mental. Her studies found that when subjects struck a powerful pose, their blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol decreased 25 percent and their testosterone levels increased 8 percent. The result: People felt more relaxed and confident, and were more likely to take a risk. These attributes can help you dominate in a tennismatch or nail a negotiation at work. So how can you prime your body to take a strong stance more often? By prepping it in the gym.
“These exercises take the principles of those power poses—such as a tall spine, open chest, and wide stance—and apply them to movement,” says Justin Jacobs, Tier 4 manager at Equinox TriBeCa, who designed this routine. “In doing so, we can set up the body to access these poses more regularly.” Do this warm-up routine before every gym session to harness your own power.
Perform each move for 30 seconds in order, taking 15 to 30 seconds to transition between exercises. Repeat once more, or follow the set with a specific warm-up for your workout.
1. Active Sphinx
Lie face down with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your elbows and place your palms down on the ground under your shoulders. Keeping your forearms on the ground, slowly lift your chest and pause (as shown); lower chest and repeat.
2. Unilateral Camel
Kneel with your shoulders aligned over your knees. Arch back and grab left heel with left hand, turning head to the left as you extend right arm over your head (as shown). Hold for 15 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
3. Under Switch
Get on all fours with shoulders over wrists and hips over knees. Rise up onto balls of feet and raise knees off ground. In one motion, lift right hand and rotate torso and right foot to the right as you extend left leg straight out from hip (as shown). Immediately switch sides, rotating to the left as you extend right leg. Continue at a quick pace, alternating sides.
4. Ape Reach
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly out. Squat deeply, opening knees wide apart; bend forward from hips, and rotate arms inward (so tops of hands face each other) as you touch the floor in front of you. Slowly rise up onto the balls of your feet, lift torso, and rotate palms upward as you bring arms to shoulder height out to your sides (as shown). Return to the starting position and repeat.
5. Overhead Squat
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulders and toes turned slightly out. Extend arms overhead in a V, palms facing each other. Squat until thighs are parallel to the ground, as shown, then rise up to the starting position and repeat, keeping arms extended overhead the entire time.
6. Warrior-2 Pump
Stand with feet together, then step or jump your feet so they’re about 4 feet apart. Turn right foot to the right and rotate right thigh outward; raise arms to shoulder height out to sides, palms facing the ground. Bend right knee 90 degrees, so thigh is parallel to the ground (as shown), then straighten right leg. Continue for 15 seconds, then repeat on opposite side.
7. Lateral-Lunge Reach
Stand with feet together and hands behind head. Take a big step to the right with right foot and lunge as you extend arms overhead and bend torso over right thigh (as shown). Step right foot back to starting position and place hands behind your head. Repeat, this time lunging and reaching to the left. Continue, alternating sides.
8. Balance-Reach Hop
Stand and lift right foot behind you, shifting weight to left leg. Bend forward from hips as you extend right arm overhead and left arm straight back. Rise up to starting position and hop straight up. Repeat for 15 seconds, then repeat entire sequence on opposite side.
9. Squat Jump
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulders and arms extended at your sides. Squat, reaching hands behind you; jump straight up as you extend arms over your head. Repeat.
Photographed by Mike Rosenthal; Art Direction + Styled by Ashley Martin Heckman