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Back Hyperextensions
How To Perform Them the Right Way

Last updated: September 9, 2021

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.

I spent time researching how you can perform this exercise properly. Here’s everything you need to know about back hyperextension.

What is Back Hyperextension?

A woman doing hyperextension exercise in gym

Hyperextensions or back extensions are 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.

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

A woman doing a tutorial for hyperextension for back

Back extensions may still lead to injury if not done in their proper form. So, here's your step-by-step guide in performing this exercise correctly.

Equipment

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.

Execution 

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.

Recommendation

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.

Back Extensions on the Floor

A woman doing a back hyperextension on a yoga mat
  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.

Back Extensions on an Exercise Ball

Doing a back hyperextension on 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.

Back Extensions on a Flat 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

Increase Back Strength and Range of Motion

One research shows 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. 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.

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, stabilized spine, and improved balance.

“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

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: How to Burn Back Fat With These 10 Exercises

Are You Going to Try Hyperextensions?

If you have been sedentary or have been suffering from back pain, back extensions may provide relief.

What’s more is that these exercises strengthen the core, helping stabilize the spine, correct posture, and improve the overall quality of your life.

It's time to incorporate this exercise into your routine, and don't forget to share how it worked for you.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3944566/

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