Trying those different machines in the gym could be quite intimidating, especially if it’s your first time using them. You wouldn’t want to be that weird guy humping the leg press machine, for sure. While other pieces of equipment are pretty self-explanatory and easy to figure out, some require a bit of research or guidance from the gym instructor, like that extension machine staling in the dark corner of your gym. If you’re feeling a bit embarrassed to ask, don’t worry because we got your back! And so does that back extension machine.

The Mighty Ol’ Back Extension Machine

Back muscles are one of the most important parts of the body that needs strengthening not only for that impressive physique but also because a strong back is necessary for keeping your spine healthy, preventing possible future injuries, and maintaining your walking balance, which again prevents possible future injuries.

Back Extension Machine. (Indiamart)

Now the back extension machine. This machine could be your friend or foe, depending on how you use it. You treat it right, and it gives you the gift of a nice silhouette, but you disrespect it by not using it properly, and it would curse you with eternal back pain and more. So here’s how to avoid that.

Although others are using this machine to train abs, the main purpose of it is, well, for the back extension. As defined by Healthline:

Back extension exercises (sometimes also called hyperextensions) can strengthen lower back muscles. This includes the erector spinae, which supports the lower spine. Back extensions also work the muscles in your butt, hips, and shoulders.

But it’s not just the back itself that’s benefitting whenever you do back extensions. Very Well Fit enumerated other muscles that would be happy, too with this workout:

“Synergistic muscles used in the back extension are theĀ gluteus maximus, hamstrings, andĀ adductor magnus. Stabilizer muscles used include the back, shoulder, and neck muscles: biceps, triceps, lats, deltoids, traps, pecs, and rhomboids.”

How To Use It As If You’ve Always Known

The machine, sometimes also called a hyperextension bench, uses gravity for resistance. It usually comes with two variations depending on its angle: 45 degrees and 90 degrees. It’s also important that you adjust the pad, so it’s directly placed below your hipbone. Here’s how you do back extension:

  1. Start by placing your thighs on the pads. Slightly bend your knees and step on the platform one foot at a time. Your legs should be hip-width apart, while your knees and ankles should be aligned.
  2. Once you’re snug and secured in the machine, tuck your chin. It should remain so throughout the exercise as if you’re holding a ping-pong ball under it. Your spine, pelvis, head, and neck should all be in a neutral position. As for your core, make sure that you engage it throughout, too.
  3. You could either cross your arms in front of you or place them on the sides of your head (not interlocked behind it.)
  4. Once you’re snug and secured in the machine, slowly bend your hips and lower down your upper body until your body forms a 45 or 90-degree angle, depending on which variation you are using.
  5. Engage your glutes and lower hamstrings as you pull your torso back up until your shoulders finish over your hips.
  6. End the rep by squeezing your glutes.
  7. Pause a second and do it all again.

Can’t quite picture it out? Maybe this video from Livestrong could help:

Few Things To Remember

You should keep in mind three things while performing the movement: a.) You have to move slowly as you lower down your body. You don’t want your body flopping as you descend. b.) Start with a light weight if you opt to incorporate a kettlebell or dumbbell once the normal one starts to feel easier to do. c.) Do not overextend your upper body by lifting it too high or arching your back as you move back up. Remember the curse of this machine? Overextending would cause lower back pain, and it’s not going to be fun.

The last thing you need to remember is that it is important to seek professional guidance if you’re performing these workouts for the first time to avoid injuries. If you want to complete your upper body workout, read these shoulder workouts for dummies, too.

Now off you go and show the world that you could confidently use the back extension machine like a pro!