5 Best Back Extension Alternative Exercises You Should Do
To have a strong lower body and good posture, it is important to train your lower back. Back extensions are the perfect exercise to train these areas. However, if you don’t fancy the back extension exercise, there are some alternative exercises that you can do.
Luckily, the back extension movement is not to only effective exercise for training the posterior chain and lower back muscles. Numerous exercises can be performed with and without equipment.
In this article, we show you 5 of the best back extension alternatives you can add to your training regime. That way, you can continue to work on your lower back, core, and hamstring muscles both in the gym and at home.
– What Is A Back Extension Exercise?
– Back Extension Muscles Worked
– What Is A Good Back Extension Alternative?
– 5 Best Back Extension Alternatives
What Is A Back Extension Exercise?
Back extensions are performed using a hyperextension bench. This bench helps you stabilize your lower body while allowing the hips to hinge up and down against resistance. Each time you raise the body from the hips and lower it, you perform a back extension.
When people refer to back extensions, they typically mean a back extension done on a hyperextension bench. The hyperextension bench allows you to stabilize your lower body while you hinge at the hips, lowering and raising your upper body against resistance. Each time you raise your upper body back up, you are performing a back extension.
While the hyperextension bench is the most common way to perform a back extension, there are many other alternatives, including the use of a weight bench or even using the floor.
However, the hyperextension bench is usually the best choice for strengthening the lower back because it allows you to progress from bodyweight resistance into weights relatively easily. This can be done by wearing a weighted vest, holding a weight plate, or even attaching a band to the body.
The hyperextension bench also allows you to perform the back extension through the full range of motion.
Even though the use of a hyperextension bench is the best for working the lower back, not everyone has access to this piece of equipment. Because of this, it is good to have some alternative exercises that work the same muscles when you don’t have access to the gym.
Back Extension Muscles Worked
Even though most people think the back extension exercise mainly works the back muscles (erector spinae), it works the hamstrings and glutes to a lower degree.
The main back extension muscles worked include:
The erector spinae muscles are a long group of muscles that start near the sacrum and extend up the back. The erector spinae muscles follow each side of the vertebral and extend next to the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical parts of the spine.
The back extension works the Longissimus Thoracis, spinalis, and iliocostalis muscles isometrically, eccentrically, and concentrically. This helps prevent the spine from rounding, and allows the glutes and hamstrings to function better.
The back extension exercise helps strengthen the hamstrings, which assists the glutes in extending your hips, as well as extending the body past a neutral position. During hyperextension (when doing the back extension exercise) it also helps to promote eccentric contraction, which is one of the best ways to strengthen the hamstrings.
Another muscle worked during back extension is the glutes. During this movement, the glutes extend and hyperextend the hips, which means the glutes get a good amount of contraction. This is why many women use the back extension to target the glute muscles.
Benefits of the Back Extension
There are many reasons why people include the back extension exercise into their training regime. Below are some of the top benefits of the back extension:
Having a strong back can help improve overall standing posture, as well as help to keep the spine in a neutral position during exercises like squats and deadlifts.
Posterior Chain Muscle Development
Because the exercise involves hyperextension, it can provide maximum stretching contraction during the eccentric phase and maximize contraction tension during the concentric phase.
Helps Reduce Lower Back Pain
By improving your glute strength and mobility in the hip, you are less likely to develop lower back pain. Doing the back extension regularly can also help you have better core and spinal stability, which can ultimately reduce the chances of back injury.
Lower Back Strength
Since the lower back plays a role in keeping your spine neutral, it is important to keep the lower back strong under load. That means a strong lower back can help prevent spinal flexion when doing exercises like a squat or deadlift.
What Is A Good Back Extension Alternative?
A good back extension alternative is an exercise that works the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. They should be easy to perform and allow you to add more resistance to the exercises. For example, adding weights or resistance bands.
Because of this, the best back extension alternative should:
-Work the lower back together with the hamstrings, glutes, or both.
– Allow the person to make progression through increased resistance
– Adequate range of motion throughout the movement.
– Emphasizes the lower back muscles
5 Best Back Extension Alternatives
Below are 5 great back extension alternatives you can do instead of the standard back extension.
Barbell Good Morning
The barbell good morning exercise works muscles similar to the back extension. This makes the barbell workout a great alternative. However, if you struggle with poor shoulder mobility or lower back pain, you are better to choose another exercise from the list.
Overall, the barbell good morning exercise helps put the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings through a full range of motion, which helps promote better muscle-building potential.
To do the exercise:
1. Stand under a loaded barbell in a squat rack
2. Position yourself similar to a back squat
3. Walk back a few steps
4. Lift the barbell and hinge at the hips while keeping your shoulders down and chest up.
6. Lower your torso down while maintaining a straight back.
7. Stop once you are parallel with the floor.
8. Start contracting your back and push your hip forwards until you return to the starting position.
9. Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.
Bird Dog Exercise
Even though the bird dog exercise is often dismissed as a hard workout, it can still be beneficial. The bird dog can help strengthen your core, lower back, glutes, and hamstrings at the same time. It is also a good exercise for people who struggle with lower back pain or add extra weight to their workout.
The exercise is also beneficial for runners, cyclists, and other athletes that need to build lower back endurance.
To do the exercise:
1. Start by placing yourself on the ground with your hands, knees, and toes touching the ground.
2. Place your knees under your hips and your hands directly below your shoulders.
3. Make sure your spine is in a neutral position and hold this position through all movements.
4. Raise your right arm and left leg away from the body and parallel to the ground.
5. Hold this position for 3-4 seconds
6. Return to the starting position and alternate between sides. Aim for 10-15 repetitions.
The superman exercise is one of the closest exercises to the back extension. However, this exercise is performed on the floor, making it one of the most accessible exercises on this list.
This exercise is great for strengthening the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings in unison.
To do the exercise:
1. Lay on your stomach on the ground or matt.
2. Stretch out your arms and legs
3. Raise both your hands and feet 10-15 centimetres off the ground while keeping your anterior core on the floor.
4. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds. Then lower the hands and feet back onto the floor.
5. Repeat 10-15 times.
The kettlebell swing exercise trains the muscles similar to the back extension. However, it trains the posterior muscles explosively, which can be beneficial to athletes that need to produce powerful and explosive movements. It can also help during your weight loss journey to burn more calories than other exercises on this list.
To do the exercise:
1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders and the kettlebell in front of you.
2. Pick up the kettlebell and push your chest out while keeping the spine straight.
3. Thrust your hips forward to swing the kettlebell in front of you. Then let it swing back between your legs. Make sure you bend the knees and allow the kettle bell swing between your legs
4. Thrust your hips forward again, then use the momentum to swing the kettlebell forward.
5. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.
Bench Reverse Hyperextension
The bench reverse hyperextension is another good alternative to the back extension. However, it involves the use of a weight bench.
To do the exercise:
1. Lie on a weight bench
2. Make sure your hips are at the end of the bench.
3. Keep your legs together and slowly lower them down close to the floor.
4. Once your toes touch the floor, lift your legs while keeping them straight and together. Make sure you do not over-extend your back.
5. Squeeze your glutes and slowly lower the legs back down.
6. Repeat 10-20 times.
If you are unsure about how to perform any of the above exercises, reach out to a personal trainer. They can help show you the correct technique and take you through each workout, so you learn the proper movements.