Reverse Back Extension (Reverse Hyperextension) Exercise Guide
The regular back extension, often called a hyperextension, has your legs fixed and your torso moving into line with them. In the reverse back extension (reverse hyperextension) your torso is fixed and your legs move into line with it.
Reverse back extension (reverse hyperextension) requires that you keep your feet above the hips. It will help strengthen the lower back. This lower back exercise is often called Prone Hip-Thigh Extension. It can be done without any equipment, using a flat bench and a stability ball or it can be performed using a specially designed piece of equipment (machine) that allows you to add resistance.
Reverse Back Extension (Reverse Hyper) Exercise Instructions
STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Lie facedown on a flat bench or table (image 1), with your hips at the edge, your legs together, your knees slightly bent, and your toes touching the floor. If you can, prop up the bench to get a greater range of motion. You can also lie on a stability ball on top of the bench (image 2). Grip the sides of the bench above your head to keep your upper body stable. Hold on firmly to avoid sliding off the bench.
MOVEMENT (ACTION): Raise your legs upward, keeping your feet together, toes pointed, as high as you can (at least until they are just above parallel to the floor). Hold for a second, then slowly lower your legs to the starting position. Do not allow your feet to touch the floor until you have completed the set.
Reverse Back Extension Additional Tips & Tricks
- Grab the legs on the front of the bench for balance.
- If need be, place some padding under the part of your groin area that contacts the edge of the bench. You may be able to find the right position so that no artificial padding is needed.
- Contract your gluteals to raise your legs until your thighs are in line with your torso. Your feet will be slightly higher because you’ll naturally have a small bend in your knees as you lift your legs. In other words, the legs should be raised to a point where the knees, hips, and shoulders are all in line.
- Pause at the top of the movement. Lower your legs again but don’t allow your feet to touch the floor.
- Never jerk into the top position. And never jerk your head back as you lift your legs. Keep your head steady and inhale on the descent, and exhale on the ascent.
Exercise Variations (Modifications)
Reverse back extension (reverse hyper) can also easily be performed:
- Swiss-Ball Reverse Back Extension (Swiss-Ball Reverse Hyper) (at home). Set a Swiss ball in front of something sturdy you can grab on to, like a chair weighted with heavy objects such as sandbags. Lie on your chest on the ball, and raise your straight legs off the floor. Hold for a few seconds. For more range of motion, place the ball on top of a bench or box and then lie on it. Make sure that ball can’t roll off the surface you’ve set it on. You can also do it with a medicine ball between your feet to add resistance.
- Machine Reverse Back Extension (Reverse Machine Hyper). Lie face down on a reverse hyperextension machine and hold on with your hands. Your legs hang straight down toward the floor and the machine pad should be slightly above your heels. Raise your legs, keeping them straight, until your body is straight and fully extended. Lower your legs back down under control to the starting position.
- Reverse hyperextensions on the 45-degree incline bench. To perform this exercise, use the same bench as the back raises (incline back extension). The difference is that the upper body is now supported by the bench and the legs hang in space. Support the upper body on the bench. Keep the legs straight. Allow the hips to flex so that a 90-degree angle exists at the hip joint. From this position, keeping the legs straight, bring them up until they are parallel to the floor.
- Good Morning Lift
- 45-degree back extension (incline back extension)
- Traditional Deadlift
- Romanian Deadlift
- Roman Chair Back Extension (90-degree back extension)
- Machine Lumbar Extension
Reverse back extensions (reverse back hyperextensions) are the opposite of GHRs (glute-hamstring raise). Instead of lifting the torso while your legs are immobilized (see incline back extension or Roman chair back extension), you lift your legs while your torso is immobilized.
This lower back exercise can be done without any equipment, but machines make it much more effective. In fact, the exercise should definitely include a weight that forces your legs to come down at least under your navel so that you can stretch your spine and hamstrings.
If you do the exercise without resistance the range of motion will be smaller, and you will have a difficult time feeling the exercise. If you do not have a machine, you can wrap a band around your feet for resistance.