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Most people know that you can build muscle at the gym. Luckily there are also ways to do exercises like a back extension at home without machines.
The back extension is an exercise where you go from a 45-degree angle to one line with your body. This exercise is for strengthening mainly your lower back but also your glutes and hamstrings to some extent. The back extension is generally done with gym machines like the back extension machine and the roman chair.
Luckily there are also back extension variations and other equipment you can use if you don’t have a back extension machine. Keep in mind that the objects are usually not made for this purpose and are generally less safe to do the exercise on.
If you plan to implement a lot more back extensions into your routine, you may want to consider investing in a machine anyway. A good back extension machine is less expensive than a trip to the hospital.
Also keep in mind that your lower back is a relatively injury-sensitive body part. If you have any issues there it may be smart to talk to an expert before starting a new workout program
1. Stability ball
A stability ball, also known as an exercise or yoga ball, is a soft elastic ball that can be used to improve multiple fitness components. You can also use this piece of equipment to do exercise ball back extensions at home.
To do so safely you want to search for something you can anchor your heels behind. You can even use a wall for this. After that put the stability ball below your hips so you can bend your body down about 45 degrees and extend it back up into a straight line.
One of the advantages of the stability ball is that it is a fitness tool that can be used for many purposes. There are many stability ball exercises for a wide variety of muscles, for example your ab muscles.
Another benefit is that using a stability ball to do back extensions at home is safer than some of the other options on the list.
A disadvantage is that most people do not yet have a stability ball at home. Even though a stability ball is relatively inexpensive you will likely have to make a small investment.
2. Weight bench
A weight bench is similar to a regular bench without a back seat but padded for comfort. It also often has the option to put part of it more inclined or declined. Popular resistance training exercises like the chest press make use of the weight bench.
To do a back extension at home with the help of a weight bench, lie on your stomach on the bench. Then move forward until your upper body is free to do the exercise. You likely need to put your feet under the edge of the weight bench to balance yourself.
Make sure the weight bench you intend to use is stable enough and/or make it stable with some weights in the right places. This is not possible for every weight bench out there.
You can also make a “weight bench” at home with chairs or an actual bench but these options are usually less stable and less comfortable.
Similar to a stability ball you can use a weight bench for many things. Chest exercises, back exercises, ab exercise, and even leg exercises.
Besides the possible instability, another disadvantage of using a weight bench to do a back extension is that you will not be able to go through the entire range of motion as you would with a back extension machine.
3. On the floor
Having a back extension machine or roman chair available is helpful but you can also do a sort of back extension on the floor. Simply lie on your stomach on the ground, preferably a soft surface like a good yoga mat, and raise your upper body and legs off the ground.
This movement will engage similar muscles to a 45 degree back extension at home but to a lesser extent and in a less comfortable way.
4. Resistance bands
Resistance bands are an inexpensive type of fitness equipment that are basically elastic cords. You can use this piece of exercise equipment to modify other exercises like squats or to do specific resistance band exercises.
The back extension machine makes it so gravity creates resistance for a movement where you target your lower back. You can create resistance for the same movement without a machine with quality resistance bands.
Some exercises that are similar to the muscles worked in a back extension are the Romanian deadlift, the good morning, and the Romanian deadlift.
Some of the benefits of resistance bands are that they are inexpensive and usable for a wide variety of exercises for basically any body part. Especially if you work out a lot at home they may be a great investment.
Anchoring your resistance bands is generally safer than just putting them under your feet but a disadvantage is that this can take a little more effort. That being said, especially the back extension alternatives, can be done without an anchor.
5. Seated back extension at home
The seated back extension is more of an at-home variation of the back extension instead of doing the same exercise with different equipment. For the seated back extension you want a chair or another sturdy object to sit on.
Resistance bands are also great to make the exercise more challenging which in turn can lead to more and faster muscle gain.
To do the seated back extension sit straight up on the edge of a chair. If you have resistance bands anchor them under your feet and safely behind your shoulders or neck. Then move back your upper body while keeping your back straight until your upper body hits the back seat.
If you are using resistance bands and you don’t have a back seat you can keep moving back as far as you safely can. After that return to the starting position in a controlled motion.
A downside of the seated back extension is that you have a very small range of motion. You also need resistance bands to implement enough resistance for a lot of muscle growth.
6. Kneeling back extension
The kneeling back extension is another type of variation instead of doing the exact same exercise at home. For this exercise you preferably want something soft to put under your knees. A rolled-up yoga mat can be a good choice.
To do a kneeling back extension sit on your knees with your back straight up. Keep your hands against your chest throughout the exercise. Bend forward as far as you can while holding your back in the same position as at the start. Your hip does the folding, not your back.
The main advantage of kneeling back extensions is that they do not really require any equipment.
A downside is that your range of motion is a lot smaller compared to a regular back extension.
If you have a stable and sturdy table you can potentially use it to do back extensions on. Keep in mind that many tables or not suitable for using it this way.
Similar to the weight bench you would get in a position where your upper body can move up and down freely. A safer option is doing reverse hyperextensions. This is where your legs do the moving and you rest on your upper body on the table.
An advantage of a table is that it is higher than something like a weight bench. This means being able to go through a bigger range of motion.
The downsides are rather straightforward. Almost every household has a table but not many tables are stable and strong enough to do a back extension on. Doing this exercise on a suboptimal surface can be dangerous. If you do give it a shot, reverse back extensions are likely the smarter choice.