Muscles Targeted: Hyperextensions mainly target your lower back muscles consisting of the erector spinae which are the large paired muscles (known as “extensor muscles”) in the lower back that hold up the spine. This exercise also targets your hamstrings and glutes as secondary muscle groups.
Exercise Instructions: Position yourself on a Roman Chair facing forward. If you are not sure what a Roman Chair is, ask a trainer at your gym to point one out to you. Cross your arms in front of your chest and slowly lower your upper body down and try to touch your nose to the floor. Once your torso is completely bent over and virtually perpendicular to the floor, slowly return to the starting position and repeat. Be sure that when you return to the starting position that you do not go past parallel and arch your back at the top.
Why This Exercise is Important: This exercise is important because it focuses on your lower back. Not many exercises work on strengthening your lower back specifically, so hyperextensions are a good exercise to add to your workout. Through strengthening your back, it will help you develop proper posture, which is crucial to avoiding back and neck problems later in life. Developing a strong lower back will also give you more support and stability as you do other exercises.
Things To Avoid: When doing hyperextensions, you want to avoid rounding or bending your back. It is very important that your back and neck remain in a straight line in order to prevent unnecessary stress on your body. Also, when bending down, avoid going farther than your body can handle. Everyone is different, and you must know your own limits. Bending farther than you should will cause you to lose form, and therefore will put painful strain on your back. Additionally, you want to avoid letting your body fall forward. You must use your back and legs to slowly bend down. Simply letting go and swinging down has the potential to harm your back, and will not properly strengthen your muscles. You want to go through the motion in a slow and fluid manner at all times.
Reps and Sets: For beginners, 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions is a good starting point. You can slowly build up to 4-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions. For more experienced lifters, start with 3-4 sets of 20-25 reps. As you grow stronger, or if this is too easy for you, you can grasp a weight plate in your arms for extra resistance. The key is to listen to your body. Your back can be very sensitive and it is important not to do too much at once. If you are unsure, always start with less repetitions. You can increase repetitions next time you workout if you feel as though you can handle more. With the weight plate, patience is key. Only experienced lifters should attempt to use a weight plate, and even for experienced lifters, always start with less weight and build up to more. You do not want to put more strain on your back than necessary.
Other Exercises To Use: Here are some other exercises to do in place of, or to supplement with hyperextensions. Two arm dumbbell rows work your lats and your biceps. These will complement hyperextensions nicely by focusing on similar but different muscle groups. V-bar pullups also work your arms, shoulders, and middle to upper back. These should be done in addition to hyperextensions to work the rest of the muscle groups in your back and upper body. These will also help to tone your upper body. The Romanian deadlift focuses strictly on your lower back and really hits your hamstrings and glutes very well, which are muscles that hyperextensions only secondarily target. Do the Romanian deadlift to continue building upon the work that hyperextensions started. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the lower back.