Whether you prefer weighted or bodyweight exercises, you can’t deny the benefits of the back extension machine.
The back extension machine can be one of the most divisive and controversial machines at the gym. Because it requires some skill to use, many gym-goers can be intimidated when approaching this strength training machine. But if you can learn to use it correctly, it will target and tone the muscles in your lower back, abdominals, and surrounding muscle groups like no other.
Fitness fans, circle up—it’s time to meet your next best gym buddy. Below, we’ll teach you how to use the back extension machine to reap four killer benefits of this gym floor staple.
Back Extension Machine Basics
Even if you’ve only hit the gym once in your life, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a back extension machine.
Upright back extension machines are built with padded foot rests where you’ll anchor your ankles before using. Further up, a large pad supports your lower torso, allowing you to bend your waist over the machine.1
Standard upright back extension machine exercises require three basic steps to use:
- Lie on the machine with your front facing the ground, anchoring your feet at the ankle rests
- Bend your upper body over the machine until your torso forms a 90° angle with your trunk
- Lift your upper body towards the ceiling, pause, and slowly return to your starting position
Back extension machines let you work against the force of gravity, thereby strengthening your lower back and abdominals. While this exercise requires no equipment besides the machine and your bodyweight, you can always add a weight plate for more resistance.
Now, let’s touch on four benefits of using this seemingly simple exercise to optimize your workout.
#1 Helps Build Lower Back Strength
The biggest benefit that a back extension machine offers is the one it was primarily designed for: strengthening your lower back. The machine engages the important mass of muscles just above your waist, strengthening and building them up.
Why is that important?
Because in many ways, lower back strength is foundational to the musculature of your entire body. From walking to running to picking up the little ones, these muscle groups are pivotal (literally) for your mobility.
Using a lower back extension machine to build your lower back muscles may help with:2
- Stability – Your spinal column is braced by the muscles in your back. They keep your spine supported, promote back mobility, and alleviate some of the stress your spine takes from holding you upright.
- Posture – A strong lower back is essential for maintaining proper posture. When your lower back muscles are in good shape, they’re able to prop up the rest of you to ensure proper alignment.
#2 Can Help Prevent Lower Back Pain
Another benefit of the back extension exercise is that it helps prevent lower back pain. As we mentioned above, the strength of your lower back is directly linked to the quality of your posture. And that improved posture comes with some very desirable benefits of its own—namely, helping to prevent pain in your lower back.2
When we routinely sit, stand, or walk around with slouched shoulders and hunched upper backs, it’s not uncommon to experience sporadic or ongoing pain around your lumbar spine. Whether you notice discomfort in your daily life or when you’re working out, the back extension machine can help to offset the pinch and make your fitness goals even more attainable.
#3 Helps Build Related Muscles
Although your lower back will reap the most rewards from using a back extension machine, your other important core muscles will benefit, too. When you use a back extension machine, you use your own body as weight resistance by bending your supported upper body over the machine. This inverted sit-up also engages muscles in your:1
These muscles worked out in this simple exercise help you combine workouts and target more than one muscle group at a time.
#4 Fast-Tracks Your Other Fitness Goals
If you’ve been hitting the gym hard on ab day and need a session or two off, using an extension back machine can help keep your abs engaged between workouts.1
True, the muscles in your lower back are doing most of the work while you’re on a back extension machine—but if you’re doing the exercise correctly by bending and rising slowly, you should be exerting your abdominals as well. By doing so, you’ll be working towards two of many fitness enthusiasts’ biggest overarching goals:
- Strengthening their core
- Building overall muscle and definition
From preventing low back pain and working out more than one muscle group to being an overall simple exercise, it’s worth adding the workout to your routine.
Put Your Back Into It with Chuze Fitness
Keen to try out a back extension machine but unsure of where to start? Our fitness experts at Chuze Fitness are ready to teach you how to use it like a pro.
When you make Chuze Fitness a part of your workout routine, you don’t just join a gym—you join a fitness community with the support you need to achieve and surpass your physical fitness goals. From weighted training turf workouts to barre and pilates, there’s something for everyone.
Take advantage of our premium machines or sweat it out in fitness classes with instructors who push you to perform your best, or tune into one of our curated exercise playlists to motivate your next sweat session. However you move, we’re here to hold you up. Use our gyms near me feature to find a Chuze location near you today.
Got a busy schedule or can’t make it to a location? Use our iChuze fitness and wellness app anytime, anywhere.
Ani is the Vice President of Fitness at Chuze Fitness and oversees the group fitness and team training departments. She’s had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Ani lives with her husband and son in San Diego, CA and loves hot yoga, snowboarding and all things wellness.
- Very Well Fit. How to Do a Machine Back Extension: Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes. https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-do-the-machine-back-extension-3498285
- Livestrong. What Are the Benefits of Back Exercises? https://www.livestrong.com/article/152070-what-are-the-benefits-of-back-exercises/