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Back Hyperextensions

Exercise for strength and flexibility of the lower back

Hyperextensions are an excellent way to strengthen the lower back. The primary muscles that are exercised are the muscles in the low back just next to the spine (the erector spinae muscles.)

These muscles provide strength and stability to the lower back. By doing this exercise you can improve blood flow to the spine and help to improve the bone structure and avoid back pain.

Start with your feet under the leg support and your back straight

Hyperextensions -- starting position

Hyperextensions -- starting position

In the starting position your back is straight. Your legs and your trunk are all in alignment.

It is easiest to have your arms at your sides or crossed in front of you. If the exercise is too easy you can hold your arms above your head.

Slowly lower your upper body until you are at 90 degrees

Hyperextensions -- second position

Hyperextensions -- second position

Lower the upper body until you are at 90 degrees. Pause for a moment.

Then gradually and smoothly raise your body until your legs and back are in alignment. Your back should be straight.

Don't overextend the back

Hyperextensions -- overextended position

Hyperextensions -- overextended position

Although they are usually called hyperextensions, you don't really want to "hyper" extend the back. "Hyper" means above or excessive or beyond.

You don't want to do anything with your back that is excessive. And you don't need to go beyond the neutral position to benefit from this exercise.

This is a demonstration of overextending the back. Excessively arching the back can put unnecessary strain on the lower back.

Muscles developed

It is true that this exercise emphasizes the lower back. But it is also an excellent exercise for the buttocks and hamstrings (the hamstrings are the large muscles at the back of the legs.)

The upper back benefits as well, as it is brought into play in order to stabilize the spine.

The back is a weak area for many people. This exercise can help so that your back is not a weak area for you.


There are many variations to this exercise.

If you are very strong and want to make the exercise more difficult you can place a weight on the ground before you start the exercise. Then on your first repetition just pick up the weight and hold it to your chest as you exercise.

You might not have a stand to do hyperextensions. That's not a problem. You can use one of those large oversized exercise balls. Just lie face down on the ball with your feet on the floor.

Or just lie on your stomach on a mat or carpeted floor. When you do the exercise on the floor you do have to go beyond the neutral position, but you'll be fine if you maintain your form and do each repetition smoothly.

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