October 09, 2021 9 min read

The hyperextension, sometimes just called a back extension, is an excellent exercise for people who are looking to strengthen their back as well as their entire posterior chain. It is most commonly used during physical therapy to treat conditions in the lower back, such as herniated disks.

If you’re someone who has lower back pain, it’s likely that this exercise is part of your routine. However, not everyone has a fancy machine or set up so they can do this exercise, that’s why we’ve put together 5 of the best alternative exercises that you can do in your own home!

1. Supermans 

This exercise is the perfect example of what we’re looking for. The movements are simple, it provides a good range of motion, the exercise itself doesn’t require any specialized equipment, and it’s just as effective as a hyperextension exercise. Additionally, this exercise is great for working your upper body as well. 

As for the muscles that are worked during this exercise, you’llfeel the burn in your  glutes, hamstrings, and the back muscles along your spine, known as the erector spinae. Just like the hyperextension, this workout is perfect for strengthening your lower back and helping to alleviate pain. 

How To Do Supermans

  1. First, lay down flat on your stomach. It’s most comfortable if you do this on a soft surface, such as a yoga mat. Your arms and legs should be outstretched for the starting position, your body should look like a straight line. 
  2. Tighten your glutes and make sure that your hips stay on the floor. Lift your feet and hands upwards. While doing this it’s important to remember not to bring your hands and feet up too high as this could result in injury. Ideally, you want to feel a stretch in your core, lower back, and glutes. If there is pain, either stop doing the exercise or don’t lift your hands and feet up so much. 
  3. Finally, lower your hands and feet slowly, rest for a moment, and then repeat the movement for however many reps you’d like. 

      2. Reverse Hyperextensions Using A Table

      This variation of the hyperextension can be done using a table, or other similar surfaces. This variation is actually more beneficial than a normal hyperextension due to the larger range than the standard variation. The tradeoff here is that your table probably isn’t as stable as a hyperextension machine or even a gym bench, so some caution may be advised. 

      How To Do A Hyperextensions Using A Table

      1. Obviously, you’ll need to find yourself a table, or something similar, for this exercise. Make sure that it’s sturdy or at least held down so that it can support your weight. 
      2. Next, you’ll want to lay down on the table in such a manner that your torso is on top of it, but your legs are dangling. Ideally, you want your legs to be completely straight while they dangle. 
      3. After that, it’s as simple as lifting your legs up until they’re slightly above parallel to the rest of your body. 
      4. Finally, lower your legs slowly back to the starting position. Rest for a moment and then repeat for as many repetitions as you need. 

      3. Nordic Curls

      Nordic curls, sometimes just called Nordic hamstring curls, are a more advanced exercise that sometimes needs some special equipment but can also be done with the help of another person. Not only is it one of the best exercises for your hamstrings, but it is excellent at working the posterior chain of muscles. 

      When you do this effective exercise, you'll definitely feel the activation in your lower body and your low back. It can take a while to get the hang of but it's definitely a good exercise for overall wellness.

      Also, if you really want to add an extra layer of challenge to this exercise, you can try holding onto a dumbbell or a weight plate. 

      How To Do Nordic Curls

      Before you start, you’ll want something to anchor your feet. There are specialized pieces of equipment that can do this job for you but you can use whatever you want or have someone help you with this exercise. 

      1. To kick things off, you’ll need to be kneeling on the floor. It’s this point that you should have your feet anchored somehow. You can do this exercise without having your feet anchored but it can be quite difficult. 
      2. Next, you’ll essentially just want to lower your body weight forward. Be sure to keep your hips and back as straight as you can as you lower yourself towards the ground. If you are unable to hold yourself up during the entirety of the descent, don’t be afraid to catch yourself and lower yourself to the ground like you’re doing a pushup. 
      3. Now this is the hard part. This is where your hamstrings will have to do all of the work as you contract them to pull yourself back up to the starting position. Once you’re back in the starting position, wait a few seconds before attempting another rep. Again, this is a pretty difficult exercise so don’t be hard on yourself if you can only do a few reps at a time. 

          4. Kneeling Hip Extensions 

          This is an exercise that is kind of like the cousin to the Nordic curl. You assume a similar position where you’re on the ground kneeling, however, most of the movement will come with your hips, rather than your glutes, hence the name. That makes this exercise an excellent tool for working not just your hamstrings, but your glutes and lower back as well. 

          How To Do Kneeling Hip Extensions 

          Unlike the Nordic hamstring curl, you don’t need to have your feet anchored a certain way. This can make this particular exercise more favorable for an at-home workout. 

          1. Start by kneeling down. You’ll want your torso to be straight up, as well as your thighs. 
          2. Next, you’ll need to sit back on your heels. At the same time, bend forward at the hips. The goal here is to lean forward as much as you can with your hips without rounding your back or falling over. Don’t push yourself and make sure that you do what’s good for you. 
          3. Finally, push your hips forward. Do this until your return to the upright starting position and then prepare yourself for a couple more reps. 

          5. Good Mornings

            Good mornings are an exercise that is perfect for working on your lower back as well as your glutes and hamstrings. The nice thing about this exercise is that it can be done with or without a barbell. With proper load management and form, this can be a very effective tool for treating back pain and strengthening the posterior chain. 

            How To Do A Good Morning

            1. Start in an upright position and have your legs about shoulder-width apart. From there, hinge at your hips and lean forward. 
            2. While you are leaning forward, it is important to keep your back straight as well as your legs. Rounding your back or bending your legs causes the exercise to work different muscles or could lead to injury. 
            3. When your body gets to about a 90-degree angle at your hips, stop. Then, tighten your glutes and straighten yourself out. 

            Benefits of Hyperextensions and Similar Exercises

            The lower back is sometimes an overlooked muscle group. This is because there are lots of compound exercises out there that strengthen the posterior chain in their own way.

            That being said, it is still possible to have an underdeveloped lower back, especially if you lead a sedentary lifestyle outside of the gym. 

            This is where we move on to the biggest benefit of hyperextensions: Back pain management and core strength. Without a strong lower back, you can be prone to many injuries not just from weight lifting but from life in general. If your back cannot support your entire body, then obviously some problem may arise in the future. The same can be said for your core muscles. 

            Professional athlete performs hyperextension in the gym

            When you incorporate hyperextensions or a similar exercise into your weekly exercise routine, you will eventually feel less back pain.

            Strengthening your back muscles and core improves your posture and will ultimately make it easier on your back to support you, reducing back pain. A stronger lower back and core will also lead to an easier time 

            Now, with a stronger lower back you’ll obviously have an easier time performing some lifts. Two lifts, in particular, squats and deadlifts, will see the biggest benefits from strengthening the lower back. With deadlifts, it’s pretty obvious how you’d see the benefits of a strong lower back as it can help when you’re locking out the weight. 

            Also, by working on your lower back, you will absolutely see an increase in coordination and balance as you train. Remember, if your back is able to properly support you, you’ll have an easier time keeping your balance. Overall, you’ll definitely see your total athleticism increase due to this. 

            Hyperextension FAQ

            1. Are Hyperextensions, and similar exercises, bad for your lower back? 

            This is something that gets asked quite a lot about these types of exercises. The fact of the matter is that these exercises are only dangerous or bad for your back under certain circumstances. For instance, someone with a pre-existing lower back condition might not be able to do these exercises. 

            This isn’t the only thing that can keep you from doing this exercise as there are a lot of limiting conditions. Also, if you’re performing any of these exercises with poor form, you’re really asking for trouble. Of course, this is the case with any exercise, but especially with an exercise that relies so much on the muscles connected to your spine. 

            So really, as long as you don’t have any underlying conditions and are using good form, the hyperextension and exercises we’ve recommended are powerful tools for creating a strong lower back! 

            2. Can I do hyperextensions without equipment? 

            The short answer is yes, you can do hyperextensions at home and don’t have to bother with any of these other alternatives. However, it can actually be pretty difficult to perform this exercise by yourself. You’ll have to find a place that you can hang your torso off of, such as a bed. Even then, you’ll probably still need someone to hold onto your legs so you don’t fall off! 

            Why It’s Important To Exercise Your Lower Back

            Even with the benefits of these exercises, you still might be wondering why exercising your lower back is such an important thing to do. Well, sit tight, we’ll give you all of the reasons you’ll ever need to start paying more attention to this muscle group. 

            One of the biggest reasons why it’s important to work your lower back is for spinal support. The lower back muscles include ones that are extremely important to stabilizing and supporting the spine. In fact, some of these muscles actually make up your core muscles. Without these muscles, your body won’t be able to distribute pressure correctly or be well supported. 

            We already talked about the benefits that these lower back exercises offer to your core muscles, but did you know a strong lower back will help your hip flexors? If you’re a player of contact sports, you may need to have to use your legs for things like kicking or otherwise intensive motions.

            A strong lower back ensures that your body will be able to counterbalance these motions so that you’re able to stay balanced. 

            For powerlifting, a strong lower back is something that you should definitely pay attention to. Not only does it round out what could otherwise be very impressive back muscles, but it will ensure that you’ll be able to handle the increasingly heavy weights that are necessary to sculpt your body into the best it can be. It will help to make sure that you don’t injure yourself because and help to keep your muscles balanced aesthetically. 

            Something that any lifter should definitely avoid is the scenario where they have an underdeveloped core. This is where your limbs and upper body might have good definition and overall mass, but your core is underdeveloped.

            Lifters who focus too much on isolation exercises, rather than compound ones, are prone to this happening. This is why training the lower back is so important, because these types of imbalances can ultimately lead to injuries.

            Final Thoughts 

            Hyperextensions are an extremely beneficial exercise. They help to strengthen the muscles in your posterior chain and can even help reduce back pain! That being said, they’re not the only exercise that can be used for the same purpose. There are plenty of alternatives that you can use to obtain the same or similar benefits as a hyperextension.

            You should absolutely incorporate these exercises into your training program if you haven’t already. Building a strong lower back is key to developing balanced muscles that will help you lift even more!


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