Improve Back and Core Strength With The Roman Chair

roman chair


Many moons ago, I walked into a gritty university weight room feeling frumpy and nervous when I stumbled upon a beauty. I moved some pads, tightened some knobs and climbed onto a Roman Chair/Hyperextension Bench. After a few reps, I realized I’d be hard-pressed to find a better mate for a lifetime of back health and core strength. The American Council on Exercise says 80-percent of adults will experience back pain at some time. Since then, I’ve questioned the name of the object of my obsession. I mean how can a “chair” have no seat? But, I’ve never turned my back (hee hee) on the contraption.


Using The Roman Chair/Hyperextension Bench for Back & Core Strength

There are different versions of this chair out there- one geared to back extensions, the other for an abdominal workout. Some models easily accommodate both. The version I’m about to go on-and-on about, like a tween crushing on Justin Bieber, is the Roman Chair/Hyperextension Bench.

“..the Roman Chair will result in increased core strength and stability, which will enhance weightlifting and sports performance.”

Related:  Side Plank for a Stronger Core

Here’s why you might want to do more than just flirt with the Roman Chair:

I always locate this unadorned piece of equipment when I join a new gym for three main reasons. One, like the girl your mother thinks you should be dating, it is safe and available. I’ve seen waiting lists to use treadmills at the gym. I’ve never seen a crowd around the Roman Chair. Second, the energy you put into your relationship with the Roman Chair will be returned to you in core-strength and better alignment. Third, like a fun date, the Roman Chair is uncomplicated and flexible. It can be adjusted to fit your height without having to add additional bolsters. Since resistance comes from bodyweight and gravity, there are no weight plates to add or remove.

To do a back extension on a Roman Chair:

  • Lean hips on the large pads.
  • Depending on the model, anchor your lower calves under the ankle bar or stand on the platform.
  • Bend your upper body toward the ground.
  • Lift your upper body by contracting the erector spinae (low back), hamstring and glutes.
  • If comfortable, extend into a cobra-like position.
  • Slowly, lower to start position. Repeat.

Back extensions on the Roman Chair will result in increased core strength and stability, which will enhance weightlifting and sports performance. Performed with caution, the extensions can also help correct muscular imbalance and prevent injury. Finally, I just suggested most gyms have a Roman Chair/Hyperextension Bench, so all weight rooms must be alike, right? Wrong. Gym’s cultures are as varied as the individuals who use them. Being comfortable on a Roman Chair means never having to show up stag, wondering what to do. When you lean into the bench and slowly lift into that cobra, you are in control. You can take in your surroundings at your own pace and pick-up on weight room protocol to plan your next workout move!

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