See all the exercises at the:
Weight Training Exercises Database
– Hyperextensions – –
AKA: Back Raises, Back Extensions, Supermans
Compound Exercise, Pull Movement
On a hyperextension bench, place your ankles firmly under brace and thighs on thigh pads. Bend at the waist and lower until your upper body is vertical. Raise back up until horizontal.
Tips and Techniques:
There are also 45 degree hyperextension benches which are probably more common at most gyms. The 45 Degree Extensions are done the same way but are significantly easier due to less gravitational pressures.
While flat hyperextension benches are harder to find, they are easier to rig up. Very commonly you will see trainers doing them on a normal bench with a partner holding their legs (though, with typical bench height, this does reduce the range of motion).
You want the ankle pads secured just above your ankles (on your Achilles tendon). The thigh pads or the end of the bench should be as high up on the thighs as possible without impeding your ability to bend at the waist.
Keep a slight arch in the back throughout the exercise. The back remains still throughout, you are only bending at the waist.
Do the exercise slow and controlled. Momentum and jerking can be particularly dangerous with Hyperextensions. And, as always, momentum is the enemy of strength and muscle gains anyway.
At the top of the exercise your body is forming a straight line. While it can feel natural to continue up further, and while doing so would seem to be justified based on the name of the exercise, it is not a good idea to do so. Actually “hyper extending” the back here has no real benefit and increases the chance of injury.
At the bottom of the exercise, your body is forming a 90 degree angle at a maximum. Only go so far as you can maintain a straight back, don’t seek depth at the expense of a back. Do not let the back curl. How far you can safely go down will have a lot to do with your individual flexibility.
Your hands can be up around the head (as illustrated) or folded across the chest. Avoid clasping the hands behind the neck as this can put unnecessary pressure on the neck and spine.
Adding resistance can be accomplished by holding weight plate(s) to your chest or a barbell on the backs as you would when squatting.
Recommended Reps For Muscle Building:
6-12 the majority of the time, trying higher or lower reps on occasion
- 45 Degree Hyperextensions – (see above)
- Reverse Hyperextensions – The body is supported by a bench and the legs are pulled upwards
Deadlifts are a great exercise for the lower back. The closely related Hamstring Raises and Glute/Ham Raises (similar but the leg breaks at the knee and then straightens on the bench during the exercise) can hit the hams and glutes well.
Hyperextension Bench, Weights (optional), Barbell (optional)