Torso Extension at a Machine (Machine Lumbar Extension)
This short post will show you the proper and safe way to perform machine lumbar extension using perfect technique in order to get the most benefit from this rather inconvenient lower back exercise. Furthermore, we will let you know some of the typical ways the exercise is done improperly so you can take steps to correct yourself before they even happen.
You can also perform lumbar extension while seated on a lumbar machine that provides variable resistance. Most fitness facilities offer multiple back extension machines, but each is similar in that it requires you to extend your spine against resistance. To avoid injury, do not flex the spine too far forward or extend too far backward. This exercise is excellent for beginners. Done in sets of 10 to 12 repetitions, it develops the strength to progress to more technically demanding exercises for the back. Incorporate this exercise at the end of your workouts so that your spinal extension muscles aren’t fatigued during more complex exercises.
Machine Lumbar Extension Technique – Proper Form
STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Adjust the seat of the machine so that the padded arm rests on your upper back. Begin in an upright, seated position with your back against the pad. Use your hands to hold on the pad for stability and begin with the weight off the stack. If there are handles next to the seat, hold them with a closed, pronated grip. If there is a seat belt, secure it across your upper thighs just below your hips.
EXERCISE EXECUTION (ACTION): Contract your lower-back muscles to push the pad back and lower your torso toward the floor in a slow, controlled manner as far down as the machine allows. Resist the weight to slowly raise your torso back up to the start position.
Additional Tips & Key Points
The back extension machine can help rehabilitate and strengthen the back extensors but can cause problems if faulty technique is used.
- Begin in a seated position with a slight forward lean.
- Position the roller against your shoulder blades.
- Back should be pressed against the pad.
- Slide your shoulders down and keep your chest lifted as you lean back.
- Do not push with your legs; contract your low back muscles to cause the movement.
- Be sure and read setup instructions on your particular machine.
- Be very careful and do not use too heavy weights, especially if you have lower back issues.
Ensure that you lower the weight under control with this movement. It is common to see users allow the weights to drop and, in so doing, rapidly push their spine into flexion.
Muscles Involved in Machine Lumbar Extension
Machine lumbar extension works the erector muscles of the spine, focusing the effort on the lower back, specifically the lumbosacral mass of the spinal muscles.
Various manufacturers make different versions of the back extension machine. Always follow the instructions printed on each particular machine (if different from description in this post) to ensure proper technique.
Machine Lumbar Extension Substitutes – Replacement Exercises
- Lying back extension
- Roman chair back extension
- Incline back extension (incline lumbar extension)
- Good morning lift
- Romanian deadlift
- Traditional deadlift
Back extension machines are controversial among some fitness professionals. They equate using a back extension machine to lifting something heavy without bending your knees. Some trainers oppose exercises like the back extension machine that isolate one muscle or muscle group, preferring those that necessitate several muscles working together. Use this machine only after you have mastered the hip hinge and pelvic tilt.
Let’s be completely honest. Machine lumbar extension (machine back extension) is not the best choice to train your lower back muscles. This is due to the fact that most lumbar machines are poorly adapted for working the spinal muscles for several reasons. The machines tend to compress the vertebrae and the sited position is not the best for sacrolumbar contraction. Furthermore, heavy work is difficult because the legs are bent to much and the lack of support points makes this machines less effective. Finally, hyperextension with a straight torso is not recommended, especially when the spine is under tension. However, you will find a few good machines out there. Therefore, we do not recommend these machines especially if back benches (also called Roman chairs) are available.