Table of Contents
Using the back extension machine in the gym is a great way to strengthen your mid and lower back muscles.
But if you can’t get to the gym maybe it’s time to try some back extension exercises at home?
Recommended Reading – Weighted Ab Workouts At Home: 8 Best Dumbbell Core Exercises
If so, stick around to discover some perfect alternatives.
Alternative Back Extension Exercises At Home
Below we’ve suggested some alternative back extension exercises you can do at home with little equipment required so you make your back stronger and improve your movement.
The superman exercise utilizes just your bodyweight and is a great way of targeting your low back and core muscles.
A good tip is to keep your core engaged as you do this exercise as it helps to maintain the brace position as you extend your lower back.
This is important as helps to prevent injury.
If you’re new to the exercise, you can start out by just raising your legs.
How It’s Done:
- Lie face down on the floor with your arms and legs extended.
- Keep your abdominal muscles engaged and raise both feet off the ground going as high as you can.
- At the same time, raise both arms up and off the ground, also going as high as possible.
- Hold the top of the movement for a couple of seconds before returning to the starting position.
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
The single leg RDL is a highly effective lower body exercise that you can do using just your body weight or make it more difficult by grabbing hold of a dumbbell in each hand.
It’s a good way to work your posterior chain muscles (hamstrings, glutes and lower back) while also challenging your dynamic balance and stability.
How It’s Done:
- Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart.
- Raise one foot off the ground, just go high enough so that you’re balancing on one leg.
- Using a hip hinge movement, lower your upper body towards the ground.
- At the same time, take your raised foot and take it behind you.
- To ensure a full range of motion your torso and raised leg should both be parallel to the floor.
- Pause briefly before moving back to the start position.
- Perform an equal number of reps on both legs.
The good morning exercise specifically targets the muscles of your posterior chain helping to build your hamstrings and strengthen your lower back.
Once you’ve mastered the technique by using just your bodyweight, you can add some additional weight by holding a couple of dumbbells or a barbell.
How It’s Done:
- Begin in a standing position with your feet at a hip width distance.
- Keep a slight bent to your knees and place your hands behind your ears.
- With your chest and head up, push your hips backwards so that your torso starts to move forwards.
- Stop when your torso is just above parallel to the ground.
- At this point, you should feel a stretch down your hamstrings.
- Push through your heels back to the start and repeat.
The side plank is a great exercise for improving your back strength helping to reduce low back pain.
While it primarily targets the muscles of your core, including the obliques and transverse abdominis, it also engages the erector spinae muscles, which run along your spine and play an important role in maintaining good posture and providing support to your back.
How It’s Done:
- Lie on your side with your legs extended and your feet stacked on top of each other.
- Rest on your elbow by placing it directly under your shoulder, so your forearm is flat on the ground.
- Engage your core muscles and lift your hips off the ground, creating a straight line from your head to your feet.
- Hold this position for as long as you can while maintaining good form, and then switch to the other side.
The glute bridge is a popular exercise for targeting your glutes helping to increase strength and improve the shape.
Even though it’s usually viewed as a glute dominant exercise it will still help to improve low back strength.
How It’s Done:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart.
- Place your arms by your sides, palms facing down.
- Engage your core muscles and press through your heels to lift your hips off the ground. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees when at the top position.
- Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement.
- Lower your hips back to the ground with control.
Bird Dog Exercise
The bird dog is a simple bodyweight exercise that will work all your muscles from your hips to your shoulders.
These muscles work together to stabilize and strengthen the whole area.
It’s especially good for activating your erector spinae and your core muscles.
How It’s Done:
- Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Engage your core muscles to maintain a stable and flat back.
- Lift your right arm straight in front of you, parallel to the ground, while simultaneously extending your left leg straight behind you, parallel to the ground. Keep your head in a neutral position, looking down at the ground to maintain a straight spine.
- Hold this extended position for a moment to ensure balance and proper alignment.
- Slowly return your right arm and left leg to the starting position, keeping them parallel to the ground.
- Repeat the same movement with your left arm and right leg.
- Continue alternating sides for the desired number of repetitions or time.
Lower Back Stretches To Cool Down
Once you’ve completed the exercises above, it’s a good idea to do some gentle stretches to loosen up the muscles and prevent any delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Here are a couple for you to try out.
Knee To Chest Stretch
- Lie on your back with your legs extended.
- Gently bend one knee and bring it toward your chest.
- Hold your knee with both hands and apply gentle pressure. You should feel a stretch in your lower back muscles.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds and then switch legs.
Cat Cow Stretch
- Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees, with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Inhale as you arch your back, lifting your head and tailbone (Cow Pose).
- Exhale as you round your back, tucking your chin and tailbone (Cat Pose).
- Flow between these two positions for 30 seconds, coordinating your breath with the movement. This helps relieve tension and increase mobility in the spine, including the lower back.
What Are The Benefits Of Doing Back Extension Exercises At Home
Whether it’s using the Roman chair or doing some of our suggested variations below, there are many benefits from doing back extensions.
1. Increase Your Lower Back Strength
When you do a back extension with proper form, you’re going to activate your erector spinae.
These are superficial muscle groups that run the length of your vertebral column starting from your cervical spine (at the top) and going down to the lumbar spine (at the bottom).
The back extension exercise will help to strengthen your spinal erectors which can minimize lower back pain.
2. Improve Your Posture
A strong lower back can help to improve spinal alignment which contributes to better posture.
Good posture can reduce strain on your spine and muscles and help prevent back-related issues.
3. Enhance The Strength Of Your Core Muscles
The back extension is an excellent exercise for working your entire core, this includes the muscles in your lower back, abdomen, and pelvis.
This helps improve your core stability, which is crucial for overall strength and functional movement.
When the core muscles get stronger, this makes day to day activities much easier to do.
4. Helps To Maintain Spinal Health
Regularly performing back extensions will help to strengthen all the spinal extensor muscles.
The deep spinal extensors (the spinal rotatores) help support the other muscles which all work together to stabilize your spine and pelvis.
They work constantly to help you maintain good posture and stop you from falling forwards.
Remember to keep your workouts varied with a good mix of exercises.
This will not only keep things more interesting, but it’ll also mean you keep challenging your muscles making the workouts more effective.
With that in mind, don’t forget about the muscles of your upper back as they work together to help prevent low back injuries and keep your spine in proper alignment.
If you’re looking for some all around back exercises you can do with a set of dumbbells, why not head on over to our article ‘dumbbell back workout‘ for some suggestions.