Back Extension

  • Area Served: Northern California
  • docs to perform:Guarav Abbi


Those who are experiencing back problems, striving to maintain back strength or looking to create tone in the back muscles should try the back extension. This exercise helps to prevent potential back strains and lower back pain by increasing muscle tone and muscle mass in the back.
It works out by stretching the muscles and building up core strength for a more developed lower back and more balanced midsection. When doing this exercise, make sure you are following proper form and not overdoing it because when done improperly, it may lead to back injury.
To begin these exercises lie down flat on your abdomen facing the ground with legs slightly apart and arms straight at both sides. Lift up your upper body, including your chest and shoulders, and flex down your hips, while exhaling deeply. When you inhale, gradually lower your upper body down. That is one complete repetition.
The exercise itself is easy enough as long as you put your breathing rhythms together with the movement. If you are having difficulty lifting your upper body, increase the distance between your legs and decrease as you lift higher.


The back extension primarily targets the lower back muscles because these are the muscles that stretch as the back, chest and shoulders are lifted up during the exercise. The stretching also results in more flexibility. A strong back leads to great stability and mobility. It also heals your back from prolonged sitting and slouching, which all contribute to chronic lower back pain.

Sets and Repetitions

If you need to adjust the exercise to fit your current fitness abilities, use a plastic exercise ball or a gym ball as an alternate to lying down. Instead kneel on the gym ball and put your hands at the back of your head. Lean forward and straighten your body as your torso touches the ball while using your toes to find balance.
For beginners, 10 repetitions lasting for around 15 seconds each is a good starting point. This means you should be holding the lift position for approximately 15 seconds on each repetition. Step it up a notch for a total of 15 to 20 repetitions with the same 15-second time holding on to the lifting position for a more advanced workout.

Related Movements

Speed up the process of gaining back muscle by choosing complementary exercises. The inverted rows, cable face pull and dumbbell raises are good exercises to do with the back extension. All of these suggested movements require the use of equipment such as dumbbells for the dumbbell raises, a bar with a rack or smith machine for the inverted rows a and rotating pulley with a rope or cable for the cable face pull.

Related Foods

Consume foods that create energy to make it through the back extension exercise. Brown rice, sweet potatoes and bananas are good foods to eat before a workout. A protein shake or chickpeas and a chicken breast are rich in protein and make a good meal after a workout.

Celebrity Use

Celebrity trainer Joe Dowdell advises workout enthusiasts to balance workouts to achieve whole-body results. Back exercises are important and must be given value because they contribute to improvement of the posture. The back extension is one of the back exercises Dowdell recommends in order to promote muscle strength in the back.

Functional Use

Back extensions help those with chronic back pain mend. A first goal is to be able to continue with daily routines or usual exercises without experiencing back pain. The improvement happens because this exercise creates a stable, well shaped back that has been stretched for increased flexibility. The pain and muscle strain are reduced and/or prevented in your lower back after regular performance of the back extension. Better posture helps relieve back pain as well and will last as you age.

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