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Hyperextension Roman Chair Exercise

By Larry of

Q. Larry,
I've watched people on that piece of equipment that's used for back muscles (kind of like the opposite of doing situps). Can you tell me how, and what exactly it should be used for?

A. Dear C.L.,

You're probably talking about a "Roman Chair", don't ask me why it's called that. The exercise is to do back extensions.

Your lower body (legs) will remain stationary and you will lift your torso until it is in a straight line with your legs. This is an excellent addition to your work out for the lower lumbar muscles. One of the major risks to the back while training is posed by hyperextension which is the extension of any joint beyond the end point of its normal range of motion, which is dangerous. In the case of the lumbar spine, this means arching the back forcibly beyond its normal curvature. Don't confuse back extensions with hyper- extensions. With back extensions you lift just until your torso is in a straight line with your legs. With hyper-extensions you lift beyond the in-line position!

Normal back extension involves active contraction of the agonist muscles associated with the spine. When these muscles are active, it becomes impossible to hyperextend the spine beyond its normal range.

When doing back extensions on the Roman Chair, be sure not to swing the body, and to come up to only the point where your upper body is in line with your legs.

Hope that helps and thanks for asking!

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