Back Hyperextensions: What They Are & How To Do Them

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 31, 2024
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Hyperextension exercises are one of the best things you can do for your lower back health. It is a great exercise that stretches and effectively strengthens the lower back, plus it’s a great workout you can do at home.

As a fitness trainer, I've seen many people do hyperextension with poor form, which prompted me to spend some time researching how you can perform this exercise properly.

Here’s everything you need to know about back hyperextension.

Quick Summary

  • Back extensions are resistance training exercises that work and strengthen your lower back muscles.
  • The best back extensions without a bench include; back extensions on the floor, and back extensions on an exercise ball.
  • One research study from the Biology of Sport showed that a 10-week back extension training among healthy women significantly improved their back muscle strength and spinal range of motion.
  • Some benefits of back extensions are it increases back strength, improve back posture, and prevent back injury.

What Is the Back Hyperextension?

A woman doing hyperextension exercise in gym

The back hyperextension is a resistance training exercises that focus on working and strengthening the lower back muscles.

This includes the erector spinae muscles, which run the entire length of the spine and act as support to it.

Back extension exercises create a dynamic stretch (active movements of the muscles in the full range of motion) in the back muscles, including the mid and upper back muscles.

It can be a great warm-up routine before any physical activity or strengthen the back for ease of movement.

What’s more is that these exercises strengthen the core, helping stabilize the spine, correct posture, and improve the overall quality of your life. Also, you can kickstart your fat loss journey with our highly rated fat burners for women and fat burner supplements for men.

So, if you’re having lower back problems, back extension exercises can be a great workout to provide relief. We will explore more about its benefits later in this article.

Besides working the back muscles, hyperextension also involves a hip extension movement targeting the glutes and hip muscles.

How to Perform Hyperextension on a Back Extension Machine

Back Hyperextension

Back extensions may still lead to injury if not done in their proper form. So, I've put together a step-by-step guide for you that'll help you perform this exercise correctly.

Equipment Needed

You will need a hyperextension bench, also called a back extension bench or back extension machine to perform this exercise. It is a machine that uses gravity for resistance.


Note: Do a warm-up before performing this resistance training exercise.

  1. Lie face down on the hyperextension bench, bend your knees slightly, and lock your feet securely under the foot brace.
  2. Adjust the upper pad just below your hip bone, allowing you to move without any restriction.
  3. Cross your arms on your chest or hold your arms at head height while keeping your body straight. This is the starting position.
  4. Slowly bend forward at the hips until you feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings and lower while keeping your back straight.
  5. Don’t over-extend your back as it adds unnecessary strain on the lower back.
  6. Then, slowly raise your body back up while keeping it in a straight line to the starting position. Perform the recommended number of reps.


Complete at least 3 sets and begin with light weight to moderate repetitions, such as 8-15 reps. Hold your up and down position for 3 seconds to feel your muscles contract and stretch, respectively.

Note: You can make it more challenging by holding a weight, such as a dumbbell, on your chest while doing the movements.

Hyperextension Variations Without Hyperextension Bench

Here are three ways you can still perform hyperextension without the bench.

1. Back Extensions on the Floor

Back Extensions on the Floor

Here's how I do my back hyperextensions when I'm on vacation and can't find a gym:

  1. Lie on the floor or your exercise mat and place your arms at your side.
  2. Lift your upper body as high as possible off the floor and hold that position for 3 seconds.
  3. Return to the initial position. Repeat according to the recommended number of reps.

2. Back Extensions on an Exercise Ball

Back Extensions on an Exercise Ball

To do back extensions with an exercise ball:

  1. Lie on your stomach on the exercise ball and place your feet against the wall for stability.
  2. Placing your hands behind your head, slowly lift your upper body.
  3. Return to the initial position. Repeat according to the recommended number of reps.

3. Back Extensions on a Flat Bench

Back Extensions on a Flat Bench

To do back extensions on a bench:

  1. Lie on your stomach on the flat bench with your hips hanging off at the end of it. You may need someone to hold your legs to keep control.
  2. Cross your arms over your chest or put your hands behind your head while keeping your body straight.
  3. Lower your upper body as far as you can while keeping your back straight.
  4. Lift your body back to the initial position. Repeat according to the recommended number of reps.

Back Extensions Benefits

A woman in a hyperextension bench

Besides being a great way to build lower back muscles, the hyperextension has the following benefits.

1. Increase Back Strength and Range of Motion

One research study from the Biology of Sport showed that a 10-week back extension training among healthy women significantly improved their back muscle strength and spinal range of motion (how far one can stretch a joint or muscle) [1].

This means that back extensions may help increase the flexibility of the back and strengthen the back muscles. A stronger back helps reduce back pain, improving mobility and overall quality of life.

However, if your back problem has been recurring, it's better first to seek professional medical advice.

2. Improve Back Posture

If you want to stand taller and upright, back extensions can do the work because they can increase your core strength. Having a strong core means better posture, a stabilized spine, and improved balance.

According to WebMD, back extensions improve your back's range of motion, which has a rehabilitative effect on people with back injuries, thereby improving their posture [2].

“If your work situation involves sitting at a desk for long periods, it can negatively impact your core strength. So, take breaks in between those long hours of sitting with a walk or a stretch.

— Dale Santiago, Certified Personal Trainer Based in New York City

3. Prevention of Back Injury

Because back extension, when done properly and consistently, helps strengthen your back, it may help reduce the risks of back injuries, helping you perform other resistance workouts with ease.

Related Articles:

Sport-Specific Back Hyperextension Routines for Peak Performance

Over the years, I've had clients hundreds of clients who came from various sports backgrounds. So, looking at my old workout programs, I found a few variations of the hyperextensions I created based on different sports.

1. For Runners: Endurance-Focused Hyperextensions

Runners require a strong, enduring lower back to maintain posture and stability during long runs.

Here's how you can tweak the hyperextension if you're a runner:

  • Routine: Perform a standard back hyperextension with a focus on endurance. Aim for higher reps (15-20) with a moderate pace.
  • Variation: Add a lightweight plate or resistance band for added resistance, ensuring it doesn't compromise form.
  • Frequency: Include this routine 2–3 times a week on non-consecutive days.

2. For Swimmers: Flexibility-Enhanced Hyperextensions

Swimmers benefit from a flexible and strong back for strokes and turns.

Here's how you can tweak the hyperextension if you're a swimmer:

  • Routine: Incorporate a dynamic range of motion in the hyperextension, focusing on smoothly transitioning from the lowered position to a fully extended one.
  • Variation: Integrate a twist at the top of each extension to mimic swimming strokes.
  • Frequency: 2–3 times a week, ideally after swimming sessions to aid in muscle recovery.

3. For Weightlifters: Strength-Oriented Hyperextensions

Weightlifters need a powerful lower back for lifts like deadlifts and squats.

Here's how you can tweak the hyperextension if you're an Olympic weightlifter:

  • Routine: Perform back hyperextensions with added weight (dumbbell or plate) held close to the chest.
  • Variation: Progress to single-leg hyperextensions for unilateral strength development.
  • Frequency: 1–2 times a week, focusing on lower reps (8-10) with higher weight.

4. For Soccer Players: Explosive Power Hyperextensions

Soccer players require a combination of strength and explosive power in their lower back for kicking and quick movements.

Here's how you can tweak the hyperextension if you're a soccer player:

  • Routine: Execute back hyperextensions with a focus on explosive upward movement and controlled descent.
  • Variation: Add a jump at the top of the extension to simulate the explosive action in soccer.
  • Frequency: 2–3 times a week, preferably on strength training days.

5. For Cyclists: Sustained Posture Hyperextensions

Cyclists need a strong back to maintain posture over long distances.

Here's how you can tweak the hyperextension if you're a cyclist:

  • Routine: Focus on maintaining the top extended position for a few seconds before lowering down.
  • Variation: Perform the hyperextension on an unstable surface like a BOSU ball to mimic the dynamic balance required in cycling.
  • Frequency: 2–3 times a week, especially after long rides to alleviate stiffness.


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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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