How The Back Extension Machine Can Promote Great Growth

strong back

This exercise will strengthen your back and is a great way to enhance those much larger lifts.

When you walk through the gym, many machines stand out. Of course, a squat rack, leg press machine, or the pec deck all look familiar. But think about how many machines you pass having never even noticed, or at the very least never thought of trying. The back extension machine is one of those machines often tucked in the corner, away from the glitz and glamor of those big lifts, like the squat and deadlift. It shouldn’t be. While this isolation exercise certainly has its fair share of strain on your low back, when done properly and effectively, the results to your back growth are enormous.

The benefits to having a strong back are not necessarily overlooked, but they certainly don’t take as much priority as they should. A strong back is imperative for preventing injury and assisting in everyday tasks and activities that keep us healthy and active. Along with a strong core, a solid back can provide stability and balance for any lift or exercise and will improve posture so we eliminate those rounded shoulders. The back extension machine works to target your back in a way where technique is key and should be used to properly enhance that back growth.

Let’s take a look at the back extension machine and see what this is all about. From what it is, to muscles worked, and the benefits of this exercise, you may just want to start including this in your routine when you’re done reading.

back workout

What Is The Back Extension Machine?

The back extension machine, also known as the Roman chair, is a machine used to target the lower back in an isolation exercise to promote huge growth. Usually performed as a bodyweight exercise, this machine is highly debated and controversial in that poor technique can lead to injury. This is due to the increased strain on your back this exercise causes. As we will see in the How To section, this exercise requires bending at the waist which can put that added tension on your low back. This shouldn’t deter you because with practice and proper form, this machine can work wonders with the back extension exercise.

Muscles Worked During The Back Extension Exercise

This exercise mainly works your lower back muscles, especially your erector spinae. You will find that with an engaged core, your abs will also be worked since they are used as a balancing aid, but also to promote better form. As an isolation exercise, this machine really targets your low back and can offer great benefits to your overall growth and gains.

back exercise

Benefits Of The Back Extension Machine

Enhances Posture

A strong back is essential in maintaining good posture and working to keep your shoulders upright, as opposed to rounded. Not only will this give you the edge with other exercises, but it will also work to boost your confidence (1). There is something to be said about an elevated posture and you will be a force in the gym with your shoulders set back as you lift those massive weights we all know and love.

Great Low Back Isolation Exercise

Finding a good back exercise can be difficult, although many do exist. Exercises like the squat and deadlift are great for working your back, in particular your low back, but what you’ll find is the back extension is a solid isolation exercise to really challenge you.

Promotes Stabilization & Core Control

By building those larger back muscles, as well as those smaller stabilizers, you start to give yourself the edge with balance and increased stabilization when it comes to a variety of movements. Since this works your core as well, you not only strengthen your abdominal muscles, but work on core control, ensuring the movement on this machine is tight and controlled to not only target muscle growth, but also prevent injury (2).

Protect Against Back Injury

While this exercise does put some added strain on your back, when done properly and with solid technique, it will strengthen the muscles around your spine and work to target those low back muscles so you build up protection against injury. This may seem hypocritical in a way, but this is where the debate for this exercise comes in. Knowing how to do it and how to properly manage the movement, like any exercise, can work to your benefit as opposed to your detriment.

back workout

How To Perform This Exercise

Here are the steps for performing the back extension exercise:

Place your feet in the pads and make sure they are secured. Bend over the pad at your waist and find a comfortable position for your lower body. Engage your core and fold your arms over your chest. Slowly bend at the waist over the pad so your lower body is near a 90-degree angle. With a controlled movement, extend back to the starting position and repeat for your desired number of reps.

Important Note: Make sure this movement is controlled and not too fast. You don’t want to put that added strain on your back that causes injury. Also, squeeze your glutes and avoid arching your low back. A tight and engaged core will help with this.

Wrap Up

The back extension machine is a great machine to provide the perfect back isolation exercise. Working to not only enhance back growth, but also prevent injury and promote stabilization and core control, this exercise is one to definitely add to your routine. A large back can add to that stellar physique and give you benefits to enhance all aspects of your everyday life. Ensuring proper form and the right approach to technique is key in avoiding unwanted pain and strain, but once nailed down, this exercise has amazing benefits to improving your training and performance, as well as your physical health. Give the back extension machine a try and really see what it can do for you today.

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*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Harvard Health Publishing Healthbeat (2015). “Why good posture matters”. (source)
  2. Hibbs, Angela E.; Thompson, Kevin G.; French, Duncan; Wrigley, Allan; Spears, Iain (2008). “Optimizing performance by improving core stability and core strength”. (source)
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.