How to Use a Roman Chair Effectively

I think the Roman chair is one of a gym’s most underestimated exercise equipment. Also, it is among those few items which are usually poorly used. I have seen people doing the back extension on it so poorly that it was magic that they did not fall off on the ground with massive pain in their back.

In this post, you will learn how to get the most from it, why you should use it, and how to perform the exercises correctly. So, the next time you enter the gym, you will know what to do with it.

Shopping Guide: Upgrade Your Home Gym with Our Best Roman Chairs!

Step-by-Step Guide to Roman Chair Hyperextension

  1. Position yourself: Stand facing the Roman Chair, specifically designed for hyperextension exercises. Adjust the leg pads to a height that allows your hips to hang off the edge when you lay face down on the apparatus.
  2. Secure your feet: Place your feet firmly against the footplate, and make sure your ankles are secured under the ankle pads. This will stabilize you during exercise.
  3. Align your body: Lay face down on the Roman Chair with your hips at the edge of the padding. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels. Place your hands either behind your head or crossed over your chest.
  4. Maintain a neutral spine: Engage your core muscles and maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement. This means not arching your back excessively or letting it sag.
  5. Lower your torso: Slowly lower your upper body towards the ground while maintaining control and aligning your spine. Continue lowering until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings and lower back.
  6. Raise your torso: Contract your lower back and glute muscles to lift your torso back up to the starting position. Ensure your body remains straight as you rise.
  7. Repeat: Perform 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions as your fitness professional recommends.

Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Overarching the lower back can place excessive stress on the lumbar spine and lead to injury. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
  • Rushing the movement: Performing the exercise too quickly can reduce effectiveness and increase the risk of injury. Focus on slow, controlled movements.
  • Using momentum: Avoid swinging your body to lift your torso. Instead, rely on the strength of your lower back and glute muscles.

Contraindications: Who Should Avoid Roman Chair Hyperextensions?

While the Roman Chair Hyperextension exercise benefits many individuals, it may not suit everyone. Those who should avoid this exercise include:

  • Individuals with lower back injuries or chronic pain: Consult a healthcare professional or a certified personal trainer for alternative exercises tailored to your needs.
  • Pregnant women: As pregnancy progresses, avoiding exercises that place excessive stress on the lower back is essential. Seek guidance from a healthcare professional or a prenatal fitness expert for safe alternatives.

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Advanced exercises

Remember to master the basic Roman Chair Hyperextension before attempting these advanced variations. Always consult a certified personal trainer or healthcare professional if you are unsure about proper form or have concerns about the suitability of these exercises for your fitness level.

Weighted Roman Chair Hyperextensions

Add an extra challenge to your standard Roman Chair Hyperextension exercise by incorporating weights. Hold a weight plate or dumbbell close to your chest while exercising. This increases resistance and helps build more strength in your lower back and core muscles. Ensure you maintain proper form and a neutral spine throughout the movement.

weighted back extension

Single-Leg Roman Chair Hyperextensions:

This advanced variation targets one side of your lower back and glutes at a time, helping to address any imbalances. Perform the standard hyperextension, but lift one leg off the footplate, keeping it straight and in line with your body. Complete the desired number of repetitions before switching to the other leg. This bodyweight exercise requires additional balance and core stability.

Isometric Glute Hold

This advanced variation focuses on building endurance in your lower back and core muscles. Perform the standard Roman Chair Hyperextension, but instead of returning to the starting position, hold your torso at the top of the movement for a specified amount of time, typically 15-30 seconds. Maintain proper alignment and breathe steadily during the hold. The isometric glute hold is excellent for improving muscular endurance and stability.

Roman Chair Twist

Incorporating a twist in the Roman Chair Hyperextension exercise engages your oblique muscles, providing a more comprehensive core workout. As you lift your torso, twist your upper body to one side, aiming to bring your opposite shoulder towards your hip. Lower back down and repeat on the other side. This exercise demands greater control and coordination.

Roman chair abs exercises

There are also a few cores moves you can do. For example, sit-ups. This training is far harder than the traditional sit up on the floor or even on the abs bench since when you move backward, you are in the “air.” It requires powerful muscles to keep your upper body in that position. But, this way, it works the core muscles supremely. Just do the motion slowly without momentum and always set the rollers to your height well to keep your ankles fixed and comfortable.

From the following video, you can learn how to do it.

Do you want to focus on your obliques? Those side muscles of your abdomen. Do Roman chair twist! It is an advanced version of the Russian Twist. You sit up on the back extension machine until you reach the position where your abdominal muscles are most flexed. It is somewhere before 90 degrees. But, instead of going back, you keep that point and twist to the left and right side. This move will work your six-pack muscles and your oblique perfectly. You can use a weight plate by holding it away to make it even harder.

russian twist on roman bench

Another exercise you may try to strengthen your obliques and hips is the side bend. It is a rather hard move that requires concentration and can be dangerous. Many people do not like it because it is uncomfortable unless the pad of the bench is not thickly padded.

side bend
Side bend

Finally, you can perform the Roman chair leg raise, which is great for focusing on your lower abs. Sit on the pad of the equipment, catch the bars, and lift your legs. Simple, like that.

Related: Roman chair exercises for glutes

Roman chair workout routine

As you can see, this fitness equipment provides enough possibilities for a complete core workout, which is not easy yet very efficient. Full core training works all the muscles: your abs, obliques, and lower back. Now let me give an example circuit for people at a better fitness level.

Make 3-4 rounds from the following exercises with or without rest between.

  • Back extension – 15-20 reps
  • Chair sit up – 15-20 reps
  • Twist – 15-20 reps

With this routine, your entire core is worked. If you are at a lower fitness level, have fewer reps or sets, or have longer rests. Also, combine these practices with other abs exercises on the floor, such as planks. If you are a pro, use weight for extra resistance.

Benefits of Roman Chair Back Extension

If you think about working out, the first thing that typically comes to mind is chest, leg, back, abs, and arms training. Yes, these are the muscles we want to be strong and beautiful. But have you ever done exercises for your lower back?

I’m sure most people ignore that body part.

But they must!

Just think about it, no matter which exercises you do, your lower back takes place in that movement. If you do squats, it works to keep your balance. If you do biceps curls, it maintains your posture straight to perform the move correctly and to avoid using momentum (and it does not let you fall forward).

Your lower back is the connection between your upper end and lower body. So, it must be strong to keep that two parts “together.”

Hyperextension on the floor is one exercise to keep your lower back strong and healthy. It is not complicated. Lie on your stomach, fix your lower body to the ground, and lift your upper body by looking forward. That’s it! You can do it at home.

However, it is far better to use Roman chair exercise equipment to maximize the efficiency of the back extension exercise. Why? Because the range of motion is considerably longer. As a result, your lower back and the muscles around your spine will be much healthier. And we should not forget that because of the lengthier motion, your hamstrings and glutes will also be activated more.

Just check out the following picture to know which muscles are working.

muscles worked
Roman chair muscles worked.

The Roman bench is excellent fitness equipment to keep your lower back and spine healthy.

And you should use it if you:

  • Live a sedentary lifestyle. Too much sitting makes your back weak and unhealthy, resulting in bad posture and pain.
  • Lift heavy weights because of training or your job to be able to handle the load and avoid injuries.
  • Want to better in any sport? No matter what sport you do, from golf to swimming, a healthy lower back and spine is required to get the maximum out of you and to avoid injuries.
  • Want to shape your hips, waist, abs, glutes, and hamstrings? It will make those muscles tight and firm.

Related: Roman chair benefits


After reading this post, I hope you understand how powerful the hyperextension Roman chair exercises for lower back pain and core training are. Just spend some time learning how to use it correctly to avoid injury. Also, if you have no time to go to the gym, you can have one at home.