Keeping the lower back healthy is crucial since it’s the link that connects your upper and lower body. If your lower back becomes weak, it may affect your mobility and daily life. Fortunately, many exercises can increase your lower body strength, such as the back extensions. 

The back extension exercise is an isolated workout that focuses on your back muscles. Despite that, it still targets several muscle groups, including the erector spinae, hamstrings, and gluteus maximums. You’ll need a back extension machine to do this exercise. However, if you don’t have one, you can always do these ten back extension alternatives right at the comfort of your home (or just about anywhere!).

Back Extension Alternatives You Can Do At Home

With a 45-degree back extension machine, you are all set to develop a healthy and strong lower back. But not everyone has access to a back extension machine and can go to the gym regularly. So does this mean it’s the end? Don’t fret since there are many back extension alternatives that you can do! Here are our top picks.

1. Romanian Deadlift 

This Romanian Deadlift allows you to exercise your erector spinae muscles safely. It has a heavier resistance than the back extension, and it pinpoints the spinal erector, hamstrings, and glutes. You’ll only need an Olympic Barbell when doing this workout.  

How to do it

  • Stand with your feet a bit shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and keep your neck in a neutral position.
  • Hold the bar using an overhand grip, bringing it to rest at arm’s length against your thighs.
  • Begin the movement by pushing your hips back, flexing them. Ensure that your body is flat with your chest up. Keep your head neutral as you slide the bar down your thighs until it reaches mid-shin level.
  • Go back to the starting position by pulling the barbell back up your legs and moving your hips back to a vertical position.

2. Glute-Ham Raise

The glute-ham raise is another back extension alternative that targets your glutes and hamstrings. It enables a full range of motion which also works out your erector spinae muscles and calves. A glute-ham machine is necessary to do this exercise.

How to do it

  • Lie with your face facing down the Glute-Ham Machine. Put your ankles between the support pads and place your thigh across the front pad. Make sure that your body is at 90-degrees. Your lower half must be horizontal, and your legs should be straight. Put your hands across your chest.
  • Inhale, flex your knee and pull your torso upright. Continue pulling until you’re vertical and your knees touch the high pad.
  • Then straighten your legs as you push your torso away from the machine until your upper body aligns to the floor. Exhale while lowering your torso.

3. Prone Back Extension

Like back extensions, the prone back extension is a bodyweight exercise targeting the lower back and glutes. It resembles the superman, but it’s horizontal instead of a vertical body motion. The prone extension exercise does not need any equipment making it an ideal home back extension alternative!

How to do it

  • Lie down on your stomach, pulling your arms back to make it even with your armpits.
  • Rotate your shoulders back and press together with your shoulder blades.
  • Squeeze your glutes as you lift your body upward together with your hands.
  • Lower them down and repeat as necessary.

4. Good Mornings

Good mornings are a slightly contentious exercise because when it’s performed incorrectly, it can cause a severe injury. Although it’s hard to maintain a somewhat arched spine, it’s the key to a successful and effective good morning. You can do this workout with a resistance band or barbell, but you can also do it using a Smith machine.

How to do it

  • Put your barbell in a power rack set or squat right below shoulder height. Hunch down under the bar and place it on your upper traps. Hold the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width. Pull the bar down towards your back to ensure it won’t move.
  • Unrack the barbell and move 1 – 2 steps backward. Stand at a hip to a shoulder-width gap. Then, bend your knees slightly and tighten your core.
  • Drawing power from your hips, push your glutes back and lean forward as your hamstrings allow. Make sure that your lower back doesn’t round. Your range of motion should depend on your hamstring’s flexibility. Also, don’t lower the barbell below your hip level.
  • Steer your hips forward and return to a standing position.

5. Reverse Hyperextension

In regular back extensions, your feet remain still while your upper body moves. With reverse hyperextensions, it’s the opposite. Your legs are working while your upper body remains stationary. This back extension alternative will enable you to lift moderate or heavyweights with minimal strain on your lumbar spine. 

You’ll need a specific machine to execute the reverse hyperextension. However, you can still do it using a flat bench or stability ball.

How to do it

  • Lie facing downwards on the reverse hyper machine. Your stomach and upper body should be on the bench, but your hips shouldn’t so they can move freely. 
  • Allow your legs to hang straight down towards the ground. Grab the handles to steady your upper body in position. Tighten your abs to ensure that you support and stabilize your spine.
  • Lift your legs by squeezing your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Make sure to keep them straight. Rais your legs until they’re almost at a straight line with the floor. Keep the motion-controlled and smooth. Never kick your legs up. The momentum will take the work away from the target muscle group. Also, you may hurt your lower back.
  • Lower your legs and repeat as you prefer.

6. Cable Pull-Through

Another good next back extension alternative is the cable pull-through. This exercise comes from the Romanian deadlift but, instead of using dumbbells or a barbell, you will be using a low cable machine with a rope handle. It’s less straining on your lower back, but it still burns your hamstring, glutes, and lower back. 

The main advantage of this exercise is you can conveniently decrease or increase the resistance, making it an excellent exercise for various levels.

How to do it

  • Set up a double rope at knee height to a low cable pulley.
  • While facing away from the machine, grab the rope with both your hands in between your legs.
  • Stand up and move a few steps away from the cable pulley with your feet flat on the ground and arms straight. Keep your shoulders down and back in a good posture.
  • With your knees slightly bent, tighten your core and engage your posterior as you hinge forward at the hips until your torso is in a straight line with the floor. 
  • Ensure that your back is straight while your shins remain perpendicular or vertical to the ground. Your hamstrings should feel an excellent stretch, and the weights should feel equally distributed in your feet. 
  • Tighten your glutes, then move your hips forward until you’re in a standing position. However, don’t hyperextend your lower back. Keep your glutes flexed and taut. 
  • Do as many as necessary. 

7. Superman

This next back extension alternative is a bodyweight-only exercise making it a suitable home workout. When doing the superman exercise, ensure that you don’t raise your legs or upper body too high. It will hyperextend your lumbar spine, which may result in injuries. If you want, you can place a gym mat or a cushion under your hips so it’s more comfortable. 

How to do it

  • Lie on your mat facing down and flat with your arms and legs stretched out.
  • Raise your arms and legs off the floor so only your hips and stomach are touching the mat.
  • Hold it for a few seconds.
  • Release and return to the starting position. 
  • Repeat as many superman exercises as you can.

8. Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing involves a pronounced hip hinge, making it an effective lower back builder. When you bend forward from your hips, you must engage your lower back muscles to prevent your lumbar spine from rounding. 

You can use a lightweight for high reps, medium weight for moderate reps, and heavyweight for low reps. Either way, it’s an excellent back extension alternative that also burns your hamstrings and glutes.

How to do it

  • Carry a kettlebell down in front of you and place your feet hip-width apart. 
  • While keeping your knees bent, swing the kettlebell in between your legs.
  • Thrust your hips forward while tightening your glutes (during the entire repetition), and swing the kettlebell up to shoulder level.
  • Put the kettlebell down and do as many reps as necessary.

9. Kneeling Hip Extension

You may confuse this next back extension alternative with Nordic curls, but it’s different. With the Nordic curl, the hips are almost stationary, while with the kneeling hip extension, the hips have more engagements. Because of this, the kneeling hip extension also targets your lower back aside from your hamstrings and glutes.

How to do it

  • Kneel so your tights are perpendicular to the ground and fold your arms across your chest.
  • Sit back on your heels and hinge forward from your hips simultaneously. Lean as far as possible without hunching your back or falling forward.
  • Push your hips to the front and return to the starting position. 
  • If you have a massive upper body, you might have to anchor your feet for this exercise. When you anchor your feet, engagement with the hamstrings increase.

10. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts

The single-leg Romanian deadlifts are another good back extension alternative perfect for developing strength, mobility, and balance. It targets the same muscles as back extensions, including your glutes, hamstrings, back, and calves. If you add some weights, it can also shred your traps, lats, and forearms, as well as your scapula stabilizers, erectors, and anterior core.

How to do it

  • Stand with your arms by your side and your feet together. Grab a weight in your right hand, then shift your body weight to your right leg. Bend your knees a bit to keep your balance and tighten your abs.
  • Hinge forward from your hip and lower the weight to the front of your leg. Stretch your left leg behind to serve as a counterbalance. Ensure that you don’t round your back.
  • Return to a standing position and repeat.
  • Do the same number of reps to the other side.

Conclusion

Back extensions help strengthen your lower back which is a crucial part of the body. If you don’t have a back extension machine or need varieties for your routine, do these alternatives instead. Among the ten recommended, the best are single-leg Romanian deadlift and reverse hyperextension. Both target the same muscles and have the same benefits!

Frequently Asked Questions

Unless you have a 45-degree back extension machine at home, you can do back extension alternatives like the prone back extension, superman, and knee hip extension. These three exercises don’t need any equipment and are easy to carry out. Also, they have a minimal range of motion, so you don’t need a large space.

If you don’t have the machine, there are many alternatives that you can use. Some of them include a low cable machine (cable pull-through), kettlebell (kettlebell swing), barbell (good mornings and Romanian deadlifts),  glute-ham machine (glute-ham raise), and a yoga mat (prone back extension, superman, and knee hip extension)

Back extension and good mornings target the same muscle group and train your hips and lower back. However, their main difference is when you do back extensions, you have back support, while with good mornings, the force is on your back.

Technically, you can do back extensions every day, but you should not. Your body needs 48-72 hours to rebound from a workout. So, it’s ideal that you only do back extensions every other day instead of daily. If you execute them more, you may get injured and impair your progress.

Similar Posts