First of all, backextensions are often referred to as “hyperextensions”. I dislike that term for this exercise, and I’ll explain why in a moment.
But first, when people think about exercises that are commonly performed incorrectly, big compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses often come to mind.
While those are definitely exercises performed incorrectly by many trainees, another exericse I witness people performing incorrectly is the 45 degree back extension. My guess is because it looks simple enough to perform people think it’s impossible to mess up.
Well, as you’re about to see, there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to perform back extensions.
Here are a few tips for getting the most out of the 45 degree back extension:
- Think of this exercise as more of a “hip thrust” instead of a “back extension”. In the same way you perform a dumbbell/kettlebell swing, focus on thrusting your hips forward into the bench instead of pulling your back upwards.
- Have the pad low enough so your pelvis can rotate forward; this will allow you to use your glutes.
- Squeeze the glutes hard and thrust the hips into the bench.
- Stop the movement when your body is in a straight line from your head to your ankles OR stop a little before. It’s better to stop a little short than to hyperextend your lowerback. Hyperextending puts a lot of unnecessary and potentially harmful pressure on your spine and discs.
- I am going to repeat myself because it’s that important: do not hyperextend your back. Stop the movement when your body is in a straight line.
I was going to record a video for you, and then I remembered that my friend Bret Contreras already filmed an excellent instructional video. Don’t assume you already know how to perform back extensions. Just watch this short video so you can get the most from this great exercise.
And here’s another great video of Bret performing 45 degree back extensions.
So, please, save your spine and make sure you perform this exercise correctly. When you execute it properly, you’ll provide a great training stimulus for your lowerback, glutes and hamstrings, and hopefully see some carry-over into your big lifts, like squats and deadlifts.
Oh, and please, never do this: