You can easily get creative with your stability ball exercises. Find out how to do exercise ball back extensions and whether they are good.
Exercise ball back extensions are an exercise where you lean with your hips on a yoga ball, anchor your feet under something, and tilt your upper body forward and back.
This movement mainly works your glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), and lower back muscles.
A big downside of doing back extensions at home with an exercise ball is that you are not able to add a lot of weight without losing balance or going over the weight limit.
In turn, you will likely only be able to improve endurance in the muscles above, not grow them.
Better endurance still has its benefits but if you actually want to grow your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles you want to turn to a specific back extension machine.
If you decide to try weighted exercise ball back extensions, make sure the ball capacity is enough for both you and the weights you plan to use.
How to do an exercise ball back extension
As you can expect, you will need a good exercise ball to do this exercise.
Additionally, you want some type of anchor to put your feet behind. Something like a wall could work but is not ideal.
Once you have these requirements, take the following steps to do an exercise ball back extension:
- Sit on your knees with your feet anchored and the exercise ball in front of you.
- Move the ball in position. You want the ball placed under your upper thighs/hips in a way that your upper body can tilt freely. Keep your upper body at about a 45-degree angle to the ground for now.
- Slowly tilt your upper body forward as far as comfortable while keeping your spine straight.
- Raise your upper body again in a controlled motion until your body is in more or less a straight line.
Keeping yourself balanced will be a big challenge in exercise ball back extensions.
Besides that, you want to keep your spine straight and make sure you don’t tilt your upper body back too much.
Exercise ball back extension muscles worked
The main muscles worked in exercise ball back extensions are your glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), and erector spinae (lower back).
Depending on how good your foot anchor is, your calf muscles may have to work to a certain extent.
Something many people forget is that just doing resistance training exercises a few times does not necessarily offer results.
In simpler words, you still need to do enough exercise ball back extensions with enough resistance for your training goals.
Since the glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae are relatively strong muscles, many people will need to do weighted back extensions to actually grow and strengthen these.
A big downside of the exercise ball version is that this becomes hard to do due to balance and ball weight capacity.
In turn, exercise ball back extensions will mainly be good for improving endurance in the muscles you work.
This is still a good thing but many people are interested in actually growing these muscles.
Exercise ball back extension benefits
Even though it is not optimal for certain fitness goals, the exercise ball version will still offer some of the back extension benefits to some extent. A few examples include:
- Better muscle endurance: You can improve muscle endurance in your glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae by doing exercise ball back extensions.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Improving endurance in your lower back muscles with exercise ball back extensions can help reduce and avoid back pain (1, 2). If you already have this issue it can be smart to talk to an expert before doing this exercise.
- Better balance: By adding an exercise ball, the back extensions become more challenging in terms of balance. This can be a benefit for people who want to improve this fitness component in this position.
Exercise ball back extensions are often not recommended but you can still say they offer these benefits.
If you like doing this exercise, you can still consider it for your exercise routine.
Exercise ball back extension alternatives
If you are interested in the benefits above and don’t necessarily like exercise ball back extensions, you can also consider one of its alternatives with similar effects.
A few of these exercise ball back extension alternatives are:
- Back extensions with other equipment
- Good morning
- Romanian deadlift
- Superman exercise
- Bird dog
- Kettlebell swings
What exercise ball back extension alternatives are good choices for you depends on things like what equipment you have, what muscles you want to work, and what you like doing.
Are exercise ball back extensions a good exercise?
Exercise ball back extensions do offer benefits like better muscle endurance in your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back but it is hard to call this a good exercise.
The two main downsides are the awkward setup of the bouncy ball and the limited weight capacities these have.
This makes it hard to do the exercise ball back extensions in controlled motions and with enough resistance to grow and strengthen the strong muscles involved.
Even if you want to work these muscles at home with relatively budget-friendly equipment, some of the alternatives with resistance bands tend to be better choices than exercise ball back extensions.
If you don’t mind going to the gym, there are even more great glute isolation exercises.
Can you do back extensions on a ball?
Yes, you can do back extensions on a stability ball. That being said, this exercise variation is generally not that effective. Especially compared to the machine version.