Looking for new exercises to strengthen the glutes, lower back and core?
I love to try out new exercises and find ways to challenge my body. Fitness should be fun and not a burden, so I always make sure to change my routines and exercises frequently.
Today, I would like to point out the benefits of the Back Extension exercise.
They are also called Hyperextensions and there are several different ways to perform them. They are a great exercises for people struggling to build a mind-muscle connection to their glutes and core. In addition to that, they strengthen the lower back and help you prevent injuries.
So far, all gyms I have seen had a Back Extension machine. If you are working out at home, you will need to get a little bit more creative. However, you can find a Back Extension machine for very affordable prizes. You can store them in a corner of your room and take them out when you are working out.
When I injured my hip, I purchased a Hyperextension machine to help with recovery. It had a great impact on my ability to build glute and core strength.
How to perform Back Extension Exercise on the machine
- First of all, you need to adjust the height of the machine. Your ankles should be tucked under the footpads and your upper thighs should lie flat on the wide pad. Your hip flexors (front part of the hips) should be free in the air. You should be able to bend at the waist without restriction.
- Bend forward slowly as far as you and feel a stretch in your hamstrings and glutes. Keep your core tight the whole time. You can hold your arms in front of you or behind your head (I prefer holding them in front of the body).
- You should not round your lower back. If you bend forward and feel you cannot keep going without rounding your back, stop there. How much you can bend forward depends on hamstring flexibility, which will improve over time.
- Now, initiate the movement by squeezing your glutes. You can actually touch your glutes and hamstrings to make sure they contract. Raise your body slowly, using only your backside to pull you up.
- Don’t arch your back. You should always keep your hips in a slight posterior pelvic tilt, to increase glute activation. Squeeze your glutes and core tight.
- Don’t come up all the way. Only raise your body as far as you can feel your glutes do the work. If you come up too far, your lower back will take over and try to complete the movement. While this exercises strengthens the lower back, the primary muscle worked should be the glutes and hamstrings.
- There are variations to increase glute activation: You can round your upper back and only come up half-way, only using the glutes. This is demonstrated in this video by Bret Contreras (aka the “glute guy”).
How to use the Back Extension Exercise in a workout
- I like to use back extensions at the beginning of the workout, as they highly activate the glutes.
- You can super set this exercise with squats or lunges. Your glutes will fire during the squats and lunges like you never thought they would!
- I prefer using higher repetitions with this exercise. This is not a primary strength movement, like squats or deadlifts. This is called an accessory movement and is great for building stability, flexibility and increasing muscle tone in your body. I don’t recommend going below 12 repetitions with this exercise.
- You can hold a weight in front of your body. Even a few pounds will be enough to increase the burn and build more muscle. Make sure to practice proper form before adding weight.
Back Extension Variations you can perform at home
- Back Bows: The range of motion is very small with this exercise but it is still a great home substitution for Back Extensions. This exercise works the glutes, core, lower back and hamstrings. If you raise your arms and squeeze your upper back, you can use this as a total body exercise.
- Reverse Hyperextensions on a Bench or Balance Ball: This is basically a back bow but you only focus on the lower body and increase range of motion by using a bench or balance ball. You can also lie down on the edge of your bed and then raise your legs by squeezing your glutes.
- Back Extensions on a balance ball: To perform back extensions on a balance ball, you need to be able to secure your ankles. Maybe you could use your bed or some heavy dumbbells. Anything that provides stability can be used. You would bend forward over the ball and then perform the exercise in the same manner as explained above.
- Good Morning: The Good Morning exercise works the same muscles as Back Extensions. Thus, if you don’t have a balance ball or bench at home, you can do Good Morning by holding a dumbbell in front of your body.
What about you? Have you tried this exercise before?
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