Superhero Pose: 21 Benefits Of Power Posing (2024)

What do you see when a superhero does their pose right before battling their sworn enemy? As our superhero parades their strong pose, they continue to win the battle.

This is how we see ourselves as we go into our daily lives. Here are the benefits of power posing.

Let’s dive in.

1. Behavioral Approach

Power poses activate what psychologists call the behavioral approach system, which increases our feelings of strength and decreases feelings of fear. All power poses expand our body space and for best results we’re to hold the posture for two minutes.

2. Boosts Confidence

These poses help micro-shift our mindsets to help us feel and perform better. They may even be more effective than simply telling ourselves how great we are to boost our confidence.

3. Children

A new study published in the journal School Psychology International found that power posing correlates with a positive boost in children’s self-esteem and confidence.

4. Non-Verbal Expression

Children from the age of five are able to recognize and interpret the body posture of others. Power posing is the nonverbal expression of power.

Superhero Pose
Photo by King Lip on Unsplash

5. Self Esteem

Children who assumed a high power pose reported higher self-esteem than those who assumed a low power pose. 

6. Relationships

They also mentioned more positive feelings and better student-teacher relationships. An indirect assessment of the children also showed the high-power pose generated an overall better mood.

7. Hormone Levels

Power posing was found to increase testosterone by 20% while it decreased cortisol levels by 25%. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone while testosterone promotes assertion, confidence, and comfort.

The group with the low power pose had the opposite effect (elevated cortisol and reduced testosterone).

8. More Powerful

When people assume an open or expansive stance (make themselves appear taller and wider), they subsequently feel more powerful.

9. Before A Presentation

A power pose is about making yourself big and strong. Think Wonder Woman or Super Man. Stand solid during the presentation to feel more confident and less stressed during what feels like a risky situation – delivering a presentation!

10. Success!

Body language affects how others see us, and it may also change how we see ourselves. Since it can boost feelings of confidence, it just may have an impact on our chances for success

11. Communication

Non-verbal communication leads people to make non-verbal judgments. Those judgments can predict really meaningful life outcomes like who we hire or promote, who we ask out on a date.

12. Low Power Pose

When we feel powerless or unconfident we wrap ourselves up. We make ourselves small to remain unseen or insignificant. Both animals and humans do the same thing.

13. Powerful Mindset

Thoughts and feelings and the physiological things that make up our thoughts and feelings are what create our mindset. Power poses can help us shift our mindset one way or the other.

14. Characteristics Of Powerful People

They tend to be more assertive, confident, and more optimistic. They feel like they’re going to win, even in games of chance. They tend to be able to think more abstractly and take more risks.

Also, they have high testosterone and low cortisol levels.

15. Shape Mindset

The body’s positioning and role changes can shape the mind. Our nonverbals do govern how we think and feel about ourselves. Power posing for only a few minutes can really change your life in meaningful ways.

16. Job Interview

Rather than looking at your phone or studying notes, hunching up, and making yourself small, getting more and more nervous as you do, try a power pose and see how it works for you.

17. Wise Advice From Amy Cuddy

  •  Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.
  • Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes.
  • Before your next stressful evaluative situation, try to get your testosterone up, your cortisol down and leave the situation feeling like I got to say who I am.
  • Try power posing, and share the science.

18. Communication

It can help you to connect with others and get your message across more effectively.

19. Persistence

The right postures can make you more persistent, helping you get what you want without pestering someone.

20. Body Affecting The Mind

We know that our minds affect our bodies. Our thoughts and beliefs are powerful. However, the opposite is also true. Power poses can naturally affect our neuroendocrine levels. So our bodies affect our minds when done purposefully. 

21. Not In Place Of Treatment

In this experiment, the observed effects were short-term, and is a warning the technique should not be considered a treatment. Children or adults with a mental illness should seek treatment from trained professionals.

Does Superhero Pose Actually Work?

How we carry ourselves has a significant impact on our brains.

Amy Cuddy’s research has revealed that power posing for just two minutes before an important event or a difficult task can lead to the production of high testosterone levels and low cortisol levels in the bloodstream.

This is powerful news! 

The superhero pose has been shown to change the brain’s chemistry by altering the body’s hormone production.

Testosterone, is known as the power hormone and is responsible for elevating self-esteem and boosting your confidence.

Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone, which gets lowered when taking a high power pose.

The superhero pose alters hormone levels in just the right way, which positively impacts your mood.

However, there has been debate on this because there have been subsequent studies that didn’t replicate the original findings and others that did, such as in the children’s study.

How Long Do You Hold The Superhero Pose?

When you assume the power pose for two minutes, your physiology will change. You’ll have a stronger presence.

In blind studies, interviewers talked to subjects having just completed the power pose. They described the subjects as passionate, confident, authentic, comfortable, enthusiastic, and captivating.

You don’t have to pretend or try to assume those characteristics. They will simply be a natural part of you.

Just try it. Assume this pose for 2 minutes before an important event or before a conversation about something you really want.

  • Like an interview, step into the restroom and do this in front of the sink or in a stall.
  • Before you take an important Skype or phone call; the caller won’t necessarily see you, yet your voice will emote those positive characteristics.

Using the power pose will change the way you think and talk during the interview. You will exude confidence you never knew you had.

What Does Power Posing Do?

When heroic posture becomes habitual, your hormone profile shifts towards increased longevity and elevated quality of life.

Power Posing
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Low power people display chronically high cortisol levels, which correlate with weak immune systems and increased incidence of disease.

Low power and low self esteem are villains that can be subdued by taking on the habits of high powered people. Posture is an important one, so work on your superhero stance every chance you get.

Why Do People Do The Superman Pose?

Superman pose is an exercise incorporating almost all the muscles behind us as well as the abdominals and works them against gravity.

This pose can help strengthen the entire spine from the shoulder blades to the gluteal muscles, which will help correct your posture.

A strong posterior chain is important for daily function and reducing pain in the back and neck. 

  • How to Perform the Superman Pose

To properly perform superman, lay on your belly with your arms out in front of you or by your sides.

Slowly lift up your head, chest, and legs at the same time while keeping your face looking down.

Your stomach and pelvis should be the only thing touching the surface underneath you.

You should feel your entire spine working as well as your abdominals and gluteal muscles.

Hold this position for 3-5 seconds or longer if able without moving other body part.

The Superman pose can help strengthen the entire spine and other surrounding muscles to support your spine, promote good posture, and reduce risk of injury. What’s more, it uses no equipment and is easy to do.

Always check with your doctor first about any fitness routine you’d like to pursue.

Superhero Pose Harvard Study

The Harvard study, run by researchers Dana Carney, Amy Cuddy, and Andy Yap, tested whether changing your non-verbal before a high stakes social evaluation could improve your performance.

They used similar open posture, high power poses. The participants were randomly assigned to pose in either two “high power” or two “low power” positions.

The high-power poses were to:

  1. Sit in a chair, arms behind the head, elbows out, and feet up on a desk
  1. Stand in front of a table, legs about a foot apart, leaning forward and hands on the table bearing weight

Both these poses take up a lot of space for the sitting version and the standing version, respectively. In contrast, the two low-power poses had those participants taking up little space.

Such as:

  1. Sit straight up, feet on the floor, legs at a 90-degree angle and hands on the lap with elbows in, touching the sides.
  1. Stand with legs close together and their arms were placed as if they were giving themselves a hug.

All participants held each pose for one minute.

The participants were then given $2 each and could choose to either keep it or gamble it to see whether the power poses would affect their risk tolerance. High power people tend to assume risk more easily, whereas low power people tend to play it safe.

They were also asked to rate how powerful they felt from 1 to 4.

The researchers also took saliva samples at the start of the study (to establish a baseline) and 17 minutes after the last pose.

Through the saliva, they could measure testosterone, a hormone associated with power, and cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.

Previous research on testosterone and power indicates that one’s testosterone level increases when a person anticipates competing, as well as after winning.

Conversely, testosterone level drops when an individual loses (e.g., Booth, Shelley, Mazur, Tharp, & Kittok,1989). 

Cortisol levels often rise with stress. People who are powerful tend to have lower baseline levels of cortisol and, when stressed, their cortisol levels don’t rise as much as it does in people who are relatively powerless (Abbott et al., 2003; Coe, Mendoza, & Levine, 1979; Sapolsky, Alberts, & Altmann, 1997).

Chronically high levels of cortisol are associated with various stress-related illnesses such as high blood pressure (Sapolsky et al., 1997), and these illnesses are more common in social groups that have low power than in those who have high power (Cohen et al., 2006).

What the researchers saw was a positive difference by assuming a pose for such a short amount of time leads the brain to shift hormonal gears and create the typical high-power or low-power hormonal pattern.

The high-power posers had their testosterone levels increase relative to their baseline, while low-power posers had their testosterone levels drop. The reverse was true of cortisol levels.

Also, while 60% of low-power posers chose to risk gambling their $2, 86% of high-power posers risked their money. 

High-power posers also reported feeling more powerful than low-power posers, with an average rating of 2.57 versus 1.83, respectively.

Superhero Pose Benefits

Those heroes we looked up to as children fought for the underdog and saved the world, yet what made them all the more super was their superhero pose. 

It may sound funny, but the superhero pose has its benefits for us mere mortals. It can help us boost our confidence and go on with our daily lives smoothly.

It can be the secret ingredient that can make all the difference in that job interview, for public speakers or from changing your regular day to one super day!

The correct stance not only has physiological benefits but can do wonders in improving your:

  • Self-esteem
  • Boosting your confidence
  • Increasing your overall energy levels.

Moreover, it will reflect how you:

  • Think
  • Act
  • Respond to situations

Superhero Standing Pose

First introduced by social psychologist Amy Cuddy in her TedTalk, the pose is about how you express yourself through your body language.

The Superhero pose, a high power pose, consists of:

  • standing tall
  • feet apart
  • chin up
  • hands on your hips with elbows bent
  • weight in your heels
  • slight bend in the knees
  • back behind you
  • head up and away from the body

The superhero stance projects power. It’s an example of what psychologists refer to as an open posture, in which limbs are spread out in a way to take up more space—such as legs apart. 

Open postures contrast with closed postures, in which your energy is drawn in prompting the body to take up relatively little space.

Female Superhero Poses

All power poses expand the space we take up and for best results we’re to hold the posture for two minutes. Despite the names, all poses are for either gender.

1. The Performer

Channel the stagecraft of a Mick Jagger or a Beyoncé by throwing your hands in the air and widening your stance as you imagine receiving rousing applause. Perfect to practice in an empty elevator or even a bathroom stall before a big meeting.

2. The Loomer

This pose is named after former American president Lyndon B. Johnson, who at 6’4″ hovered over most people. The stance involves leaning forward or over others to show interest as well as dominance. Sound like anyone you know?

3. Wonder Woman

Despite the name, this one’s the perfect gender-neutral stance. Place your hands on your hips and your feet hip-width apart. It’s the classic crime-fighter pose. Go get ’em!

4. The Presidential

This one is tricky to execute and requires practice, Cuddy says. It’s also context-dependent, like being in a pitch meeting or at The Oval Office. It involves resting your ankles on the table while clasping your hands behind your head as you lean back.

Body posture influences our brains and our feelings. According to science, if you pose like a super hero, you’ll think and act like a superhero.

So, the next time you have a big presentation or an evaluation, take 2 minutes and stand like a super hero! Better posture means better living ✅.

Related: Power Poses Against Imposter Syndrome

About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.