How to Do Weighted Back Extension Properly

As the name suggests, weighted back extension is an effective posterior chain workout that targets the lower back musculature. It is also known as hyperextension.

Most exercisers think of this move as a beginner workout. Weighted back extensions effectively build the lower back and can be modified to be easy or challenging, depending on one’s fitness level.

Also known as: Hyperextension

Targeted Muscles: Spinal erector, Core, Glutes, Hamstrings

Required Equipment: Back Extension Machine, Weight Plate

Exercise Type: Strength/Hypertrophy

Exercise Mechanics: Isolation

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Utility: Auxiliary

Force: Pull

STEPS

  • Position yourself on a back extension machine such that your feet are on the footplate and rest your thighs on the pads. Ensure the top part of the pad is set just below the top part of your pelvis to allow you to lean forward with ease.
  • Bend your knees slightly and maintain your legs in a rigid and fixed posture throughout the set.
  • Hold a weight plate over your chest. Cross your arms to secure it.
  • Bend forward slowly and control and lower your torso down towards the floor. Avoid the urge to round your back. Most of the movement should be facilitated by your hip. Lower as far as you comfortably can.
  • Move your hips forward into the pad and raise your torso back up. Do not lean too far back. Instead, move up until your body is aligned with the floor.

TIPS:

Move slowly: Lift your upper body in a slow and controlled manner. Consider working with a certified fitness instructor to perfect your movement sequence.

Begin with lightweight: Begin with lightweight when using the back extension machine. Only hold a weight plate or a dumbbell if your back strength is developed.

Do not over-extend: Raising your torso too high and arching your back as you perform can risk a low back injury. If you experience any pain when executing the exercise, stop immediately and seek medical attention.

MUSCLES WORKED BY THE WEIGHTED BACK EXTENSION

The weighted back extension is an effective posterior chain workout that works more than the lower back. The main muscles involved in this movement are:

ERECTOR SPINAE

This group of muscles runs up on both sides of the spine. The erector spinae consist of spinalis, iliocostalis and longissimus.  These muscles are responsible for holding up the spine against the gravitational pull and extending it. The erector spinae plays a crucial role in many exercises, including bent-over rows, squats, and deadlifts. These muscles can help alleviate lower back pain and injury when worked well.

GLUTEUS MAXIMUS

These muscles are found at the back of the hips and form the largest muscle group in the human body. They are responsible for the hip extension as you execute this exercise.

HAMSTRINGS

There are three main hamstring parts; semimembranosus, biceps femoris, and semitendinosus. The hamstrings facilitate knee flexion and work as synergists to facilitate hip extension.

BENEFITS OF THE WEIGHTED BACK EXTENSION

STRONGER LOWER BACK

The weighted back extension is specifically designed to activate the back and posterior chain muscles and the erector spinae muscles responsible for extending the lumbar spine. With consistency, this exercise will improve your lower back strength.

The lower back plays an essential stability role in other exercises such as the standard back squat and the barbell deadlifts. A sturdy lower back guarantees speed and explosiveness and will help you achieve any fitness goals you desire.

IMPROVED POSTURE

Long hours of sitting in a reclined position can cause muscle stiffness, sprain, or injuries. The back muscles play a crucial role in maintaining the proper posture and keeping the pelvis aligned.

The weighted back extension can help prevent anterior pelvic tilt and correct posture, enabling you to stand properly quickly.

SYMMETRICAL MUSCLE HYPERTROPHY

When fitness enthusiasts work their back, they focus too much on the lats, traps, and upper back musculature.

Much as working the upper back is essential, remember not to neglect the lower back. It is always safe to work and build your muscles evenly throughout your body.

Begin focusing on your lower back and work your muscles evenly to ensure perfect muscle symmetry.

ALTERNATIVES TO WEIGHTED BACK EXTENSION

Check out this lower back exercise with the same muscles to advance your back training.

BARBELL DEADLIFTS

Required Equipment: Barbell

STEPS:

  • Place the barbell on the floor in front of you.
  • Assume a hip-width stance behind the barbell.
  • Hinge at your waist and hold the dumbbell with an overhand grip with your hands shoulder-width apart. Ensure the barbell is over the middle part of your foot.
  • Keep your back straight, brace your core and lift the barbell as you drive your hips forward.
  • Contract your glutes at the top of the rep and resume the initial position slow and controlled manner.
  • Repeat until you achieve the desired sets of reps.

MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN PERFORMING THE WEIGHTED BACK EXTENSION

RUSHING THE MOTION

This is a common mistake that learners often make when performing the weighted back extension. When you drop down and raise your body back up in a rushed manner, you will place unnecessary tension in your lower back.

This jerked and rushed motion is a surefire way to sustain a lower back injury. Fix this by completing all the reps in a slow and controlled motion.

OVEREXTENDING AT THE TOP

This is another potentially dangerous mistake. Overextending at the top usually stems from futile attempts to overwork the lower back. This will only put too much strain on your spine and pose injury risks.

Fix this mistake by stopping the rep once your back is straight. Avoid extending your back much further.

LIFTING TOO MUCH WEIGHT

Performing the exercise with the heaviest plate around does not guarantee results. The erector spinae are not designed to lift too much load. Much as you are allowed to add weight as you perfect your technique, remember too much weight will cause lower back strain.

Do not overestimate your lifting abilities. Work your way up slowly to gain the most benefits from this exercise.

CONCLUSION

You probably have a sturdy lower back if you’re already performing bent-over rows, squats, and deadlifts. However, note the importance of adding this workout to your routine.

This workout works more than the lower back. It also works the glutes and hamstrings.

If you cannot access a back extension bench, you can perform alternative exercises that target the same muscles and have the same benefits.

Remember to nourish well and have adequate rest for effective muscle repair.

Try it out!

 

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