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Reverse Hyperextension 101 Guide - Proper Form & Benefits

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: November 30, 2021

A reverse hyperextension is a two-sided coin. It can help you relieve low back pain, among other benefits. But it can also cause back injury when done incorrectly, which is probably the last thing you need.

Still, that doesn’t mean you should avoid reverse hypers.

We’ve used this versatile exercise with many clients over the years, and we know from first-hand experience that it can do wonders for your body.

It’s just a matter of knowing what works and what to avoid.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Here’s a Brief Summary of Our Key Findings

  • A reverse hyperextension can be done with or without a machine. 
  • This workout improves hip extension, prevents injury, and relieves lower back pain.
  • Reverse hyperextensions help in posterior chain development - primarily hamstrings, glutes, and erector spinae. 
  • You can use additional training equipment for more resistance.

Reverse Hyperextension: Step-By-Step Instructions

man using a Reverse Hyperextension machine

Muscles worked: Glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors

First, we’ll show you how to perform this exercise on a reverse hyperextension machine. If your gym has one, use it. You don’t need much else - lifting your body weight is enough.

But we’ll also outline how to do a reverse hyperextension using other training equipment later in the article.

Many gyms aren’t equipped with a dedicated machine, so we want to give you other options. Also, you might want to add extra resistance by using additional equipment such as resistance bands.

Step #1: Take Starting Position

  1. Lie with your face down on a reverse hyperextension machine. Your upper body should be stable and supported.
  2. Your lower body should be dangling in the air. This includes your legs and hips.
  3. Take a few moments to find balance.

Step #2: Raise Your Legs

  1. Lift your legs slightly above your hips with a slow and controlled movement. Don’t kick them up to avoid back pain.
  2. Assume the correct top position. Keep your legs parallel to the floor and your body, forming a straight line.
  3. Hold here for 2-5 seconds. Squeeze muscles in your glutes and hamstrings.
  4. Lower your legs and go back to the starting position. Make sure you do so by applying a controlled movement. This completes one rep.

A word of caution: don’t lift your legs much higher than your torso. This could overextend your lumbar spine and cause pain in your lower back.

How to Do It Without a Machine?

man working out outdoors

We’ll show you three variations without the reverse hyper machine that include using other equipment.

Make sure you lie face down for all of them.

Reverse Hypers Isometric Holds

You’ll only need an exercise bench for this variation. You can either use an inclined or a flat bench, whichever option you have in your local gym.

  1. Wrap your arms underneath the bench to ensure they stay in place.
  2. Keep your upper body on the bench and your legs hanging.
  3. Lift your legs up with a slow and controlled movement.
  4. Lower your legs and return to the initial position. Repeat the exercise for a desired number of reps.

Banded Reverse Hypers

Banded reverse hypers can be done on a bench or another machine that allows your feet to dangle. This variation allows you to work with more resistance than the last exercise.

  1. Wrap resistance bands around your ankles and the machine.
  2. Raise and lower your legs as you’d do for the previous variation. Control the movement with your hips.
  3. Repeat for a desired number of times.

Reverse Hypers With a Swiss Ball

This variation is more challenging than a regular reverse hyper because it forces you to maintain a strong core:

  1. Come down to your knees. Place your stomach on the ball.
  2. Place your forearms and your feet on the ground and rely on them for stability. Take a moment to find your balance.
  3. Raise and lower your legs as you’d do for regular reverse hypers.

How to Program Reverse Hypers to Meet Your Goals?

Here’s how to include reverse hyperextension in your workouts, depending on the goals you have: 

  • To build muscle & endurance: 3 sets of 12-15 reps. Take a 90-second pause between sets.
  • To build strength & power: 3 sets of 10 reps. Take a 2-minute break between sets. You can place a couple of dumbbells on your legs for more resistance.

To improve hip hinge: 4 sets of 10 reps. Pause for 60 seconds between sets.

Benefits of This Exercise

shirtless man with back muscles

You already know that reverse hyperextension strengthens your lower back and legs. But this versatile exercise has other benefits too. Here are the three most important ones.

Hip Extension

Lifting newbies often struggle with proper hip extension without even realizing it. And that’s a big deal.

The hip extension allows you to hinge your hips by improving your hip flexibility. And flexibility is crucial for many lifting exercises, such as deadlifts, presses, etc.

If you can’t hinge, your back ends up carrying the majority of the weight you’re lifting. This is a big no-no because it may lead to a back injury, lower back pain, and worse.

Reverse hyperextensions can significantly improve your hip flexibility. By doing so, they’re indirectly making your other exercises more successful and risk-free.

Injury Prevention

Maintaining a natural spine is always a challenge during any lifting exercise. But it’s crucial, as an unnatural spine can lead to injuries and lower back pain [2].

A reverse hyperextension can help you prevent both negative outcomes in two ways.

We’ve already said that it allows you to put less pressure on your back by improving your hip extension. That’s one.

Two, reverse hypers strengthen your glutes and hamstrings. They’ll be able to support more weight, allowing your back to rest.

Lower Back Pain Relief

When performed properly, reverse hyperextensions gently stretch your lower back and relieve you of your pain. This effect is called spinal decompression [3].

Also, a reverse hyperextension will strengthen your lower back muscles and stabilize your spine. All that leads to an improved lower back.

What Muscles Does a Reverse Hyper Work?

A reverse hyper works the so-called posterior chain muscles.

The posterior chain includes all muscles on the backside of your body. While a reverse hyper works them all, it primarily targets the three main muscles: spinal erectors, glutes, and hamstrings [1].

Be Careful While Doing Reverse Hyperextensions

Remember to maintain control at all times while doing reverse hypers: be mindful of your body posture and movements.

With a bit of focus, you’ll be able to achieve your desired outcomes faster and ensure you don’t damage your lower back.

Combine a regular reverse hyper with variations that include other training equipment. This will help you stay motivated and get results faster.


References :

  1. https://tomsfitness.co.uk/2019/01/09/anterior-posterior-chains/
  2. https://www.spine-health.com/blog/poor-posture-causing-your-back-pain
  3. https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/spinal-decompression-therapy-surgical-nonsurgical

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