Have you ever felt like your back training was missing a little something? That despite the number of deadlifts, rows and pull/chin-ups you’ve done, your back still feels a little weak near the hips?
The reverse hyperextension is an exercise that powerlifters can truly call their own. Conceived and popularised by Louie Simmons, owner of Westside Barbell (also known as “the strongest gym in the world” due to the number of powerlifting record holders produced), the reverse hyperextension differs from the regular back raise movement in that it targets the lower regions of the lumbar spine (below L3).
Considering the fact that most incidents of lower back pain are attributed to abnormalities around the L5-S1 region, being able to target that area during training sure sounds like a good idea! Only one problem: reverse hyperextension machines are exceedingly rare. While several equipment manufacturers have picked up on Louie’s original design, not many gyms bother to stock them on the premise that most gym-goers probably wouldn’t know how to use them.
Fortunately, there’s an easy to overcome this. If your gym happens to have a glute-ham developer (GHD), you’re in luck! Simply take a resistance band and loop it around the bottom post on the front end. Make two smaller loops on the opposite ends for each foot and secure it just above the ankles, making sure that there’s equal amounts of tautness.
Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit
From here, lie down on the padded part of the GHD with your body forming an inverted “L” shape. Grab the tail end of the GHD (where your feet are usually wedged), brace your core and raise your legs till they’re parallel with your torso. It’s very important that you make sure that your lower back remains neutral throughout the movement; shift the footplate accordingly so that your lower abdomen is properly supported.
The reverse hyperextension is best done at lighter intensities with higher repetitions in order to support muscle hypertrophy and build lower back endurance, so try going with 3 to 4 sets of 15-20 repetitions. It also has an amazing therapeutic effect on the lower back, so if you’ve been dealing with a bit of back pain, try performing a set or two of this the next time you’re at the gym as part of your warm-up!