There might be affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission on anything you buy. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Roman chairs can offer many benefits but you may want other options. What are some alternatives to roman chairs with similar benefits?
The roman chair is a piece of fitness equipment that is a steel construction with two main pads. One pad is wider and meant to put your hips, thighs, or lower back on. The second “pad” is a round pad or two, made to anchor your feet behind.
With this steel construction you can do a variety of roman chair exercises for a variety of body parts. Which muscles the roman chair works depends on the exercise you do with it, this piece of fitness equipment mostly focuses on abs, obliques, lower back, and erector spinae muscles.
Whether you don’t like using the roman chair, you want a cheaper alternative, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these roman chair alternatives can help you train similar areas of your health.
Keep in mind that implementing these alternatives can offer benefits but like while using any exercise equipment, there is always some risk of injury. Make sure you use these equipment options in a safe way and if needed, get guidance from an expert.
1. Back extension machine
One of the most typical roman chair exercises is the back extension. This is an exercise where you anchor your body in the roman chair, lower your body upper, and raise your upper body again with the help of your lower back, erector spinae, glutes, and hamstrings.
There is actually a gym machine/bench made exactly for the back extension exercise. This back extension machine is a steel set up with a place you can anchor your legs behind and a pad to lean on with your hips.
If you take place in it and keep your body straight you are at about 45 degrees to the ground. After that, you can do the back extension exercise on this piece of fitness equipment.
An advantage of the back extension machine is that is perfect for the exercise with the same name. Your body is generally anchored better compared to the roman chair. Besides that, the best back extension machines generally last a long time without really losing their value.
A potential downside is that back extension machines can require a decent initial investment for a relatively narrow use. One way to resolve this is to get a multi-functional weight bench with a back extension machine included.
2. Sit-up bench
Another area where roman chairs can be used is in core training. You can do exercises like sit-ups, crunches, oblique crunches, etc. on the roman with a bigger range of motion compared to on the ground.
A different piece of fitness equipment that works in a similar way is the sit-up bench. This is a type of decline weight bench with a foot anchor so you can keep yourself in place.
Because of the decline angle your core muscles can go through a bigger range of motion under tension during the sit-up and certain other core exercises. In turn, this can benefit core muscle growth.
A benefit of sit-up benches over roman chairs is that they are generally comfortable due to the flat and padded surface. Additionally, sit-up benches are generally slightly cheaper than roman chairs.
One downside of sit-up benches is that you cannot use them instead of roman chairs for exercises like the back extension. This can make them more limited in usage.
3. Exercise ball
An exercise ball, also known as a stability or yoga ball, is a soft elastic ball that can be used to improve multiple fitness components. You can actually do a lot of the roman chair exercises with an exercise ball. Although less comfortably and anchored less well.
Some examples of these exercise ball exercises include back extensions, crunches, side bends, etc.
One of the advantages of the exercise ball is that is a relatively inexpensive roman chair alternative. On top of that, exercise balls are a fitness tool that can be used for many purposes. There are many exercise ball exercises for a wide variety of muscles and fitness components.
A downside is that it is just not as convenient to do the roman chair exercises on an exercise ball compared to the real deal. Compared to a roman chair you are anchored less tightly in place and it requires extra effort to prevent the ball from rolling around.
The exercise ball is also not great for doing exercises with heavy weights. It will also likely not last as long as the steel roman chair alternatives.
4. Glute ham raise machine
The glute ham raise machine is a setup where you lie horizontally. This machine consists of two main parts. The first is a place where you anchor your feet with one pad behind your heels on one pad on your upper feet. The second part is a rounded pad at the height of your upper legs.
This may sound and is relatively similar to roman chairs but there are two main differences. Firstly, your feet are generally secured more tightly in place.
Secondly, the rounded pad allows you to do a glute ham raise which is basically a back extension with more hamstring focus.
The downsides of glute ham raise machines include that they are generally more expensive, require more room, and are harder to find.
5. Captain’s chair
The captain’s chair, also known as a knee raise station, is a type of fitness equipment you can describe as an elevated chair without a seat.
Its armrest and backrest are usually padded to make it more comfortable since your arms and back will be the body parts that keep your feet off the ground.
The main area where this unusual setup can be used instead of a roman chair is to train your core muscles. Because your legs are hanging freely you can do core exercises like leg raises, knee raises, sideways knee raises, etc.
There are actual captain’s chair only machines but these are generally more expensive than a power tower.
A power tower is a combination of a pull-up bar, dip bar, and often captain’s chair. You may as well get the option to do additional exercises at a lower price.
A benefit of this roman chair alternative is that there are a variety of power tower exercises like pull-ups, dips, leg raises, etc. Another advantage is that a power tower can last a long time without losing too much value.
A potential downside of power towers is that they are generally a bit pricier compared to roman chairs and some of the other options in this article. You also need a decent amount of space to use and store one.
6. Pull-up bar
Power towers with a captain’s chair or a roman chairs may be a bit too expensive. In that case, a pull-up bar with the right accessories could be a decent alternative.
Most people associate the pull-up bar with pull-ups and this is still the main exercise for this equipment. However, there is also a variety of hanging core exercises you can use it for.
Even if you currently don’t have a pull-up bar or gym subscription, doorway pull-up bars are relatively inexpensive. On top of that, they can be used in other exercises for other body parts.
One potential downside of doing core exercises on a pull-up bar is that your grip muscles may fatigue before your abs and obliques. To avoid that there is a pull-up bar accessory that allows you to hang from your arms instead of your hands.
The main downside of pull-up bars as a roman chair replacement is that they do not allow you do to exercises like back extensions. Additionally, there are certain requirements for installing a pull-up bar.
7. Free weights
Free weights are heavy pieces of fitness equipment that are not attached anywhere. Some examples of free weights are a barbell, medicine balls, dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates, workout sandbags, wrist weights, etc.
These look far from a roman chair alternative but you can use free weights to make lower back, erector spinae, abs, and oblique exercises a lot more effective.
Some examples of free weight exercises you can do instead of using a roman chair include the good morning exercise, Romanian deadlift, side bends, oblique crunches, regular crunches, sit-ups, etc.
One of the benefits of free weights is that you can use them in a wide variety of exercises for many body parts. Besides that, they generally last an extremely long time. One dumbbell can potentially improve your workouts for many years and potentially even decades.
On top of that, many free weights do not really lose their value. This means that if you decide to stop using dumbbells or other free weights you can likely sell them for a very similar price as what you put into them.
A disadvantage is that free weights often require a relatively high investment compared to roman chairs.