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8 Hyperextension Alternatives You Can Do at Home

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The hyperextension is a popular gym exercise to target the ‘lower back’ muscle, along with the hamstrings and glutes. It requires a special bench which is sometimes known as a Roman chair.

It’s a specialized piece of training equipment that you’re unlikely to have in your home gym. 

As a personal trainer, I frequently see the hyperextension performed poorly. The biggest errors are that people don’t hip hinge properly and fail to keep their head and chest up in order to keep the focus on the erector spinae muscle. 

Fortunately, there are some excellent alternatives to the hyperextension that are home gym friendly and that better target the erector spinae.

In this article, I will lay out the 8 best hyperextension alternatives that I personally use with my clients when I train them in their homes.


Does the Hyperextension Work the Lower Back?

Most gym goers will tell you that the hyperextension is an exercise for the lower back. The reality is that there is no such thing as a lower back muscle. The muscle that they are probably thinking of is the erector spinae.

The erector spinae starts at the back of the pelvis and then runs all the way up to the neck. Only the lower portion of the muscle is visible on a lean person. The majority of the muscle is covered behind the lats and trapezius. 

The erector spinae consists of three separate columns of muscle:

  1. The spinalis, which is closest to the spine.
  2. The longissimus, which is the middle column.
  3. The Iliocostalis, which is furthest from the spine.

The main function of the erector spinae is to extend the spine by pulling it back in order to arch the spine. It also prevents the spine from being pulled forward through flexion. The iliocostalis also assists the obliques in the rotation of the spine.


Hyperextension Target Muscle

Hyperextension Alternative Muscles Used

The hyperextension is a hinging movement. The hip is the main joint that moves during the exercise. The primary muscle that crosses the hip joint is the gluteus. There is some help from the adductors and the hamstrings, but hip extension is mainly performed by the glutes. 

The erector spinae does have to maintain rigidity in the spine, so that the torso doesn’t collapse forward. But it is the glute that is moving the skeleton. 

The bottom line here is that the hyperextension is a glute, rather than a ‘lower back’, exercise. 

However, because most people think that it is a lower back exercise, the seven home gym friendly hyperextension alternatives will include exercises that target both the erector spinae and the glutes. 


Is Low Back Pain Due to a Weak Erector Spinae?

Low back pain is a chronic problem in our society. Many people attribute it to weakness in the ‘lower back’ muscle. But this is probably not the case for the majority of people as research suggests.

A lot of people are weak in every muscle group, yet they don’t have pain in each muscle as a result. Weakness is not, in itself, a cause of pain. 

In my experience as a personal trainer and gym owner, lower back pain is often the result of incorrect exercise execution. Choosing exercises that result in excessive spinal compression, such as heavy barbell squats, can also result in lower back pain.

Inappropriate rounding of the back by flexing the spine, such as when you are pushing out of the bottom squat position, can also cause intervertebral discs to herniate, causing serious pain. 


Equipment Needed for These Exercises


7 Hyperextension Alternatives that Replicate the Same Movement Pattern

Hyperextension Alternative Infographic part 1

1. Seated Torso Extension

Equipment needed for exercise:

  • None

How to do exercise:

  1. Sit on a bench with your back upright in a neutral position. Hold your hands in front of your chest.
  2. Round your spine as you bring your head down toward your knees.
  3. Now arch your back as you return to the start position.

Exercise muscles worked:

  • Erector spinae

2. Glute Bridge

Equipment needed for exercise:

  • None

How to do exercise:

  1. Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent and hands on the floor at your sides.
  2. Lift your hips to bring your butt as high as possible. Squeeze your glutes tightly. Hold for a two-second count.
  3. Lower to the floor and repeat.

Exercise muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

3. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

Equipment needed for exercise:

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Adjustable Dumbbells

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Classic
Read our best adjustable dumbbell guide here

These are the dumbbells we recommend for ‘most people’.

We have spent over 50 hours of research and compared over 100 dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells make sense for most home gyms as they save space.

The Nüobell dumbbells go all the way to 80lbs per hand. This means they are much more versatile than most 50lbs adjustable dumbbells. You can use these for heavy shrugs, squats and bench press etc.

The main reason they are the top pick is because of their shape. They actually feel like real dumbbells and are not awkward to lift like some others.

How to do exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a pair of dumbbells held at arm’s length. 
  2. Bracing your core, hinge your hips so that your butt goes back as you move the dumbbells down your legs. Do not round your back.
  3. Once you have reached your full range of motion, squeeze your glutes to return to the start position. 

Looking for home friendly deadlift alternatives to work the back and hamstrings? Check out our six best deadlift alternatives or our Romanian deadlift alternatives to get some exercise ideas.

Exercise muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

4. Banded Good Morning

Equipment needed for exercise:

How to do exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a loop resistance band under your feet and over your neck so that the band travels up the front of your body.
  2. Maintaining a slight bend in your knees, hinge your hips to bring your torso down to a near parallel position. Make sure that your shins remain vertical and do not round your back.
  3. Return to the start position.

Exercise muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

Note: check out our good morning exercise alternatives if you want to occasionally switch up this exercise.


Hyperextension Alternative Infographic part 2

5. Superman

Equipment needed for exercise:

  • None

How to do exercise:

  1. Lie on the floor on your stomach with your feet together and arms outstretched.
  2. Arch your torso as you lift your arms and legs from the floor. In the top position your body will form a banana shape.
  3. Hold for a 3-second count.
  4. Lower and repeat.

Exercise muscles worked:

  • Erector spinae
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

6. Single Leg Dumbbell RDL

Equipment needed for exercise:

How to do exercise:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and a pair of dumbbells held at your sides. 
  2. Brace your core as you simultaneously slide the dumbbells down your legs and extend your left leg back and up behind you. In the top position, your left leg should be parallel to the floor.
  3. Return to the start position and repeat all reps on one side before with the left leg.

Exercise muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

7. Nordic Curls

Equipment needed for exercise:

  • None

How to do exercise:

  1. Kneel on the floor in a way so that your ankles are anchored. This may be by placing your ankles under a bar or having a partner grab your ankles.
  2. Hinge from the knees to lower your body toward the floor. Your hips and back should stay aligned throughout the movement. 
  3. When your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor, contract your hamstrings to return to the start position.

Exercise muscles worked:

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes

8. Bench Reverse Hyper

Equipment needed for exercise:

  • None

How to do exercise:

  1. Lie face down on a bench so that your legs are hanging off the edge. Straighten your legs out in mid air. Grabs the sides of the bench for stability.
  2. Hinge from the hips to bring your legs up 10-12 inches.
  3. Lower under control to the start position

Exercise muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

Note: you can get a solid impact out of doing the hyper extension on a table/bench. However, if you’re considering getting a machine to do the original version of the exercise, be sure to check out our best reverse hyper machine in-depth guide.


Hyperextension Alternatives: The bottom line

The hyperextension is a pretty good glute exercise, but not so effective for the erector spinae. In this article, I’ve laid out the seven best home gym friendly hyperextension alternatives to work both those muscle groups.

I recommend testing each of them out and then incorporating your favorite 2-3 or into your workout program.

Looking for a full body workout program. Check out our 12-week beginner weightlifting routine.

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  • The 4 items of kit every gym needs
  • What you should avoid
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Steve is a certified personal trainer, current home gym owner, former gym owner, and copywriter. He joined his first gym at age 15 and, five years later, he was managing his own studio. In 1987, he became the first personal fitness trainer in New Zealand.

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