Hyperextensions for the Lower Back

Hyperextension exercises are a unique way to work the lower back while also targeting the glutes and hamstrings. You'll develop the muscles in your back while also improving range of motion in your spine.

Here are 11 hyperextension exercises to add to your next workout. Be sure to warm up your lower back first with basic bridge exercises or Cat-Cow stretches first. After completing a back extension exercise, it's a good idea to counter-stretch with a flexion exercise such as a standing or seated forward bend.

If you have any back injuries or issues, you should consult your doctor before trying these exercises.

1

Hyperextensions

It may seem like there aren't many ways to work the lower back, but if you're tired of the same old extensions, try this hyperextension. It works the lower back and it also involves the glutes and the hamstrings as a nice bonus.

  1. Lie down with an exercise ball placed under your torso and hips and rest your forearms on the floor.
  2. Your legs should be straight out behind you with your toes resting on the floor in an upside down V-shape.
  3. Keeping the legs together (and the knees straight, if you can), lift the legs up until they are level with your hips.
  4. Lower back down, lightly touching the floor
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

Tip: Avoid swinging the legs and taking them too far above the hips. Also, keep the abs engaged as you lift the legs to avoid straining the lower back.

2

Back Extensions on the Ball

Using an exercise ball for back extensions will give you more range of motion than you get on the floor, plus you'll also have a balance challenge since the ball is unstable. You may want to prop your feet against the wall to get more leverage.

  1. Lie down with the ball under your belly and hips with your legs straight out behind you (or knees bent for a modification).
  2. Place your hands behind your head or under your chin—you can also keep your hands resting on the ball if you need a modification.
  3. Round down over the ball and then engage your lower back muscles to lift your chest off the ball.
  4. Lift back up until the body is straight (don't hyperextend), then lower back down.
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.
3

Reverse Fly

The reverse fly is a great way to target the 'posture' muscles of the upper back, including the rhomboids, the trapezius muscles,​ and even the rear shoulders. Because you're bent over, you'll likely need lighter weights than for other back exercises.

  1. Use light-medium dumbbells and begin in a seated position, bent over with arms hanging down and weights under the knees.
  2. Try not to collapse on the legs but, instead, keep the back straight and the abs engaged.
  3. Lift the arms out to the sides, up to shoulder level, squeezing shoulder blades together.
  4. Keep the elbows slightly bent and only lift to shoulders.
  5. Lower and repeat for 1 to 3 sets of 12-16 repetitions, with a 20-30 second rest between sets.

Tip: Keep the range of motion small—you only want to lift to shoulder level rather than straining to pull the elbows up behind the torso.

4

Horizontal Rows

The horizontal row is a twist on the traditional dumbbell row, taking the arm perpendicular to the body to target the upper back muscles. This move is perfect for focusing attention on the posture muscles and challenging the back muscles in a different way.

  1. Prop your left foot on a step or platform, placing your left hand on your left thigh to support your back.
  2. Hold a medium-heavy dumbbell in your right hand, with your arm hanging down and the palm facing the back of the room.
  3. Engage the shoulder blades (rhomboids) to pull the arm up to shoulder level, perpendicular to the body.
  4. Imagine bringing the weight toward your armpit as you squeeze the shoulder blades.
  5. Lower the weight and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Tip: This is not a regular dumbbell row. At the top of the movement, your elbow should be perpendicular to your body.


5

T-Pulls With Resistance Band

T-pulls are a great way to target the muscles of the upper back, including the rhomboids and the trapezius muscles, as well as the rear delts. The band adds challenge to this move by creating tension throughout each phase of the exercise.

  1. Sit on the floor and loop the resistance band around both feet.
  2. Hold each end of the band in both hands with an underhand grip with the palms face up.
  3. Begin the move with the arms extended in front of you, a slight bend in the elbows.
  4. Squeeze the shoulder blades to open the arms out to the sides, keeping the shoulders away from the ears and concentrating on the upper back and rear shoulders.
  5. Bring the arms to torso level and return to start, repeating for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Tips:

  • Keep the shoulders down and away from the ears as you focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together. You also want to sit tall and keep the core engaged rather than hunching forward.
  • Keep the core strong and the back straight throughout the movement.
  • To add intensity, hold the band closer to the feet.
  • To reduce intensity hold the band toward the end or bend the knees.
6

Y-Pulls With Resistance Band

Y-pulls are a variation on T-pulls, adding intensity by taking the arms up into a Y-position. This move targets the upper back muscles as well as the rear shoulders.

  1. Sit on the floor and loop the band around both feet.
  2. Hold each end of the band in both hands with the palms facing in and thumbs pointed up.
  3. Begin the move with your arms extended in front of you and a slight bend in the elbows.
  4. Squeeze the shoulder blades as you lift the arms up and out into a Y-position, stopping at torso level.
  5. Lower down and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Tips:

  • Keep the shoulders down while squeezing the shoulder blades together. Make sure you sit tall and keep the core engaged rather than hunching forward.
  • Keep the core strong and the back straight throughout the movement.
  • To add intensity, hold the band closer to the feet.
  • To reduce intensity, hold the band toward the end or bend the knees.
7

Compound Rows

The compound row is a great way to target both the lat muscles and the lower back at the same time, working the body the way it actually moves in real life. You can do this exercise on a cable machine or using resistance bands.

  1. Stand holding resistance band handles with your elbows bent and feet about shoulder distance apart. Stand far enough from the anchor point that there's tension on the band.
  2. Tip forward from the hips while extending the arms, lowering the torso until it's parallel to the floor. You may need to adjust the tension on the band by wrapping it around your hands or moving further back.
  3. Stand up while pulling the elbows back into a row, focusing on the lat muscles on either side of the back.
  4. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-15 reps.
8

Circle Row

Another variation on traditional dumbbell rows is to combine a traditional row with the horizontal rows in a circular motion. The horizontal row targets the upper back, while the regular row targets the lats, making this a timesaving exercise that works multiple muscles.

  1. Place the left foot on a step or platform and tip forward, keeping the back flat and the abs engaged. Rest the left hand or forearm on the upper thigh for back support.
  2. Hold a medium-heavy weight in your right hand and begin with the weight hanging down and your palm facing the back of the room.
  3. Engage the shoulder blades to pull the arm up to shoulder level, perpendicular to the body, imagining that you're bringing the weight toward the armpit.
  4. At the top of the movement, your arm should be level with the torso and out to the side.
  5. From there, fold the arm in next to the torso, engaging the lat.
  6. Slowly lower the weight toward the floor and repeat this circular movement for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps on each side.
9

Dumbbell Rows with Resistance Bands

Adding a resistance band to a traditional dumbbell row is a great way to add intensity to your workouts.

  1. Begin by looping a resistance band under both feet. Grab on to either end of the tubes and practice a few rows to determine how much tension you need.
  2. If you need more tension, wrap the band around your hands a few times and then pick up a medium-heavy set of dumbbells.
  3. Begin the exercise in a bent-over position with your back flat, abs contracted, and weights handing down at your sides.
  4. Bend the elbows and contract your back muscles to bring the elbows up to torso level.
  5. Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Tips:

  • Practice this exercise without the dumbbells first to get a feel for it.
  • Make sure the tubing is very secure under your feet and that you're able to grip both the tube and dumbbells safely throughout the movement.
  • If you don't feel safe and in control, choose one type of resistance to use instead.
10

Reverse Fly With Dumbbells and Resistance Band

Reverse flies are great for working the upper back and rear deltoids. Add intensity by using a light resistance band, which keeps tension on each part of the exercise.

  1. Begin by sitting on step or chair and placing a light resistance band under your feet.
  2. Wrap the bands around each hand for added tension and pick up light-medium dumbbells.
  3. Start the move by bending forward and grasping the tube/weights in either hand with your palms facing each other.
  4. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and lift the arms up to the sides, elbows slightly bent, to shoulder level.
  5. Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.
  6. Adjust the tension of the tube as needed to add challenge while still keeping good form.

Tips:

  • Do not lift the arms higher than shoulder level.
  • Avoid this move if you feel pain in the shoulders (or anywhere else).
  • If you don't feel safe and in control, choose one type of resistance to use instead.
11

Hip Hinge

The hip hinge is a simple exercise, but an important one, particularly if you're doing exercises where you're bending over. The hip hinge teaches you how to do it properly in order to protect your back and get the most out of your exercises without injury. For this exercise, you can use a stick (like a broomstick) or a lightly weighted bar.

  1. To begin, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and take a bar or broomstick behind your head. Hold it with one hand above your head and the other end at the small of your back.
  2. The stick should be in contact with your head, between the shoulder blades and your tailbone.
  3. Shift your weight to your heels and push your hips back as you hinge forward at the hips, bending your knees slightly until your torso is at about a 45-degree angle.​
  4. The idea is to keep the stick in contact with all 3 points during the entire movement.
  5. Contract the glutes to stand up, again keeping the stick in contact with your head, shoulders, and tailbone.
  6. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.
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Article Sources
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