Back extensions are a great exercise to work out your lower back area, helping to ease lower back pain and prevent it in the future. Back extensions are also an exercise that allows for a range of different levels of difficulty, suitable for beginner to advanced trainers alike. The more basic back extensions can be done with just a mat on the ground, but for more advanced back extensions, you’ll need a back extension bench, also called a roman chair.
The best back extension bench we found for at-home training is the CAP Strength Roman Chair. It provides the best value for all the features most at-home gyms would need. The only drawback is for really heavy-duty workouts, for which you might want to check out the XMark Roman Chair or Rogue GH-1 Roman Chair, all featured on this list.
The Top 5 Best Back Extension Benches
|Product's name||Dimension||Weights||More Info|
CAP Barbell Strength Roman Chair
|56 x 29 x 43 inches||39 Pounds||See latest price|
Marcy Adjustable Hyperextension Roman Chair / Exercise Hyper Bench JD-3.1
|43.5 x 27.5 x 37.5 inches||42 Pounds||See latest price|
XMark Roman Chair XM-4429
|46 x 25 x 9 inches||66 Pounds||See latest price|
Stamina Hyper Bench, Red, 39.5" L x 22.25" W x 33.5" H
|24 x 16 x 5 inches||25 Pounds||See latest price|
Rogue GH-1 GHD
|68x45x49||195 Pounds||View Product|
#1- CAP Barbell Strength Roman ChairSee latest price
CAP is an excellent value-brand workout equipment company committed to quality equipment for a budget-friendly price. The CAP Strength Roman Chair, in particular, has a solid build design rated for up to 300 lbs of weight-bearing capacity. Its padding is a high-density foam that holds up well.
The CAP Strength Roman Chair strikes a perfect balance between value and quality. At $100, it’s a very budget-friendly choice. That makes it an excellent value-proposition as an entry-level machine to try if you are new to back extensions using a bench.
The length and height are both fully adjustable, allowing you to optimize for proper form when performing back extensions. At 56 x 29 x 43 inches and weighing in at just 39 pounds, the machine is also compact, which is perfect for an at-home gym.
The only significant drawbacks come when considering its uses for very intense workouts. This bench is only suitable for routines up to a limit of 300 lbs in weight. However, if you are not planning to use heavyweights with the machine, it should be able to handle most situations you can throw at it.
The leg and ankle supports are covered in a non-slippery cover to help it stay stable and secure. Lastly, the double set of ankle rollers is also a great bonus for a machine in this price range.
High end option
#3- 5.11 Tactical Hard Case 36 Foam Hc 36 F, Double Tap, One SizeSee latest price
For our best value pick, you can’t go wrong with the Marcy Hyperextension Roman Chair. Mercy Health is another great value brand when it comes to home gym equipment.
For the price, you are getting all of the major features you need in a back extension bench. Rubber-coated handles help you to keep grip when used, which is a feature not included in some others on this list. The foam ankle rollers are also highly adjustable.
In terms of weight capacity, it can handle about 300 lbs and is one of the most stable benches in this price range. The design lends it a kind of sturdiness that is great for back extensions. The padding is high-density foam and comfortable. Its polymer upholstery works to protect the padding from sweat while providing a decent non-slip surface to exercise on.
As with most equipment in this range, it sports a fairly compact design that is easy to store – great for beginners and those with little room in their home gym.
Beyond that, it’s mostly a no-frills bench that is no-nonsense in the style department. Its height adjustment features are also not up to par with others on this list and it cannot accommodate tall people.
If those drawbacks don’t bother you, it will function as a versatile piece of exercise equipment.
#3- XMark Roman Chair XM-4429See latest price
A roman chair with excellent height adjustability for a good price, the XMark Roman Chair sports an elegant design and solid build quality. The rubber caps on its feet help protect your floor and, more importantly, prevents the machine from slipping when doing an intense workout.
This bench has an excellent build design. The sturdy design feels great during those higher-intensity workouts. You can really trust the structural integrity of this one.
As a larger machine, the XMark does take up a decent amount of floor space. It also lacks width adjustment options, although this isn’t as necessarily a problem for the 66-pound machine with a huge width that can accommodate just about anyone.
Thankfully, there are wheels built-in to help move the equipment around when it comes to getting it set up and putting it away. Unfortunately, the large footprint does make it harder to fit and store in a home gym, so this is something to keep in mind.
The XMark doesn’t give a weight-load bearing, but the bench easily could hold 300 lbs, if not more, when compared to the other budget picks.
Finally, the quality of the padding is stellar, made with double-stitching and tear-resistant black vinyl. It feels professional-grade, making the XMark an all-around excellent machine for comfort, look and feel.
#4- Stamina Hyper Bench, Red, 39.5" L x 22.25" W x 33.5" HSee latest price
The Stamina Hyper Bench is another great budget pick with a unique look and feel. The stark red color sets it apart from the other options we have seen and its larger padding provides a more supportive overall experience.
Both its ankle padding and backrest are fully adjustable for height and width. It also features easy-to-use slip-on footrests to protect your flooring and maintain stability during intense sessions.
The thick, high-density foam padding is double-stitched black vinyl that looks and feels great. You can also fold it away nicely – at 25 lbs and with an easy-to-store design, all you have to do is tuck it away for future use. Great for smaller at-home gyms.
The one issue with this design is its away fold-away nature can also mean it doesn’t quite get set properly. Just something to keep in mind. Its compact size also means it’s not as strong as some of the more heavy-duty benches on this list, meaning it isn’t suitable for all levels of weight and intensity.
This is common across most of the budget designs though, and should not prevent most lifters from being able to perform most kinds of back extensions on it.
Cheaper but good alternative
Xebex Air Rower 2.0
Let’s not beat around the bush – this is far and away the most expensive item on our list at nearly $600. On the other hand, you are getting an insanely high-quality piece of equipment for that price from one of the most respected brands in the industry. Rogue Fitness is well-known for its high-quality, great-looking equipment that any gym would be envious to have.
The Rogue GH-1 Roman Chair has got every feature you could possibly want in a back extension bench. It’s a 200 lbs monstrosity that can carry basically any weight a human being could bring onto it doing back extensions or whatever else. Of course, it’s built to handle both 45 degree and 90 degree back extensions, and whatever else you could want to do.
Built-in wheels help with moving it around, which would be nearly impossible otherwise. The padding is luxuriously thick, comfortable, and well-built. The black powdered steel looks and feels incredible, built with strong craftsmanship and attention to detail. The feet are rubber-tipped to prevent any scratches and to prevent any sliding.
Its stability is beyond reproach and doesn’t feel like it would even get away from you no matter how intense your workout. Everything is also fully adjustable for precise height and width requirements.
The only real con I can think of is that it’s expensive. But if you’re willing to fork over the dough, this machine will never let you down. As long as you bear in mind the giant, professional piece of equipment you are getting.
Buying Guide – What to Look for in a Back Extension Bench
There are a few different features to look for in a good back extension bench, depending on your desired comfort, price, weight requirements, and level of customization. It will also matter if you are looking to use it for both 45-degree and 90-degree back extensions or other exercises as well.
Thicker pads mean greater comfort for both the bench and footrests. If the pads are too thin, or if they are poorly made and get lumpy quickly, your core and legs are more likely to get uncomfortable, which in turn can lead to lower desire and ability to perform the exercises. It can also hurt proper form.
As a matter of cleaning, it is much easier to clean removable covers that allow for washing than non-removable covers
Price is always a factor when considering your equipment. The average price of a good back extension bench is $150, so that should be a good baseline when it comes to making a value judgment on your machine.
There are lots of great deals for ones around $100-120, so don’t count those out either, but be sure it is a budget choice that can actually handle your body weight. For a true professional-grade piece of equipment that can handle heavy-duty use, you’ll have to look into machines in the $400+ range.
But keep in mind, these more expensive machines will last a lifetime if you do choose to purchase them.
Higher-graded steel allows for greater load-bearing capacity on your machine. You’ll want a load-bearing capacity of at least 50 lbs over your current weight, plus more if you want to use additional weights for advanced back extensions.
The overall build and construction will also play a factor, although that is something hard to tell without seeing the equipment in person.
Suffice it to say, straying too close to the maximum carrying capacity is a game you don’t want to be playing with your expensive exercise equipment. Err on the side of caution and you should do alright.
Height adjustment is a key feature in most back extension benches. Adjustable ankle pads are another one to look out for, providing further customization and comfort.
The main reason such adjustments are so valuable is that they allow you to achieve a much more precise and comfortable proper form. And as we know, proper form is absolutely critical to a good workout and to prevent any injuries.
There’s also the rubber padding on the feet and handlebars of the bench to consider, which can help prevent floor scratching and provide greater overall stability to the machine. You want a build that can deal with a lot of sweat and can remain in place during full-bodyweight exercises.
You’ll also want to check how versatile your bench will be for different forms of exercise. Some benches are really only meant to do back extensions, with little ability to be adjusted for other exercises.
One big exercise in this category is simply the 90-degree back extension, which only some back extension benches will support. On the other hand, some will only support a 90-degree back extension, which would not be suitable for beginners.
Optimally, you’d want one that can do both, but the 45-degree is the priority for most people.
Fit and Storage
Another big factor when it comes to deciding on your back extension bench will be its compactness and fit when it comes to bringing it into your home gym.
Your first concern should be whether it will fit, including its height, length, and width – but also considering you will need some room in front of it to perform the workout.
Second, you should also consider whether it can fold away or be moved around easily for storage. The heavier ones especially, you’ll want wheels included because moving those around will not be easy otherwise.
Finally, you should check whether the build quality is up to par. The poorer the build quality, the more likely the machine will be off-balance and maybe even come loose during heavy or long-term use.
Build quality entails the strength of the materials, the quality of the welds, and the general design of the machine. If the piece of equipment has not been assembled well, then even a slight amount of pushing it off-balance can mess with its stability during a workout. That’s why buying from a quality company with known expertise in build and material quality can be a life-saver down the line.
Why do Back Extensions?
Back extensions are a great exercise to wake up and stretch out the muscles across your lower back, easing any tension from your shoulders all the way down to your hips. Also called hyperextensions, these are one of the best exercises you can do to help relieve lower back pain.
The stronger the muscles in your lower back, the better they are able to support your spine, especially the erector spinal muscles which are activated during this exercise.
In the long run, this means a lower likelihood of experiencing back pain, having bad posture, and a host of other health benefits.
Depending on the level of difficulty of the back extensions you perform, you’ll also work out your core muscles and burn fat. By working out your whole body, all your other exercises become easier.
With a strong lower back and core, your ability to perform upper chest and shoulder exercises will increase. Compound exercises like back extensions are also excellent for burning fat, as they have been shown to increase metabolism much more than isolation exercises.
Combined, these insights show how beneficial adding back extensions to either your core workout routine or your lower body routine can be.
How to do Back Extensions
There are two kinds of back extensions we’ll be looking at here: basic back extensions and machine back extensions.
A basic back extension doesn’t require any special equipment and is a great addition to any core workout routine. The more advanced machine back extension requires a back extension bench but provides a much fuller workout to your lower back muscles than the basic back extension.
Before we go any further, here is a warning to avoid any sudden or jerky movements during this exercise. Perform each repetition slowly and with purpose. That way, you won’t hurt any of the important muscles near your spine.
Also, you don’t have to push the arch in your back more than is comfortable. This can be dangerous and injure your lower back if done improperly. It should feel like a good stretch to the arch of your back, but it should not be painful.
Basic Back Extension
First, here’s how to do the basic back extension:
- First, lie neutrally on a mat, face down, arms crossed, with your hands lying over one another and interlaced so that your chin can rest on the back of your interlocked fingers. Your legs should be laid out straight behind you in a relaxed position.
- Now, lift your feet off the floor, about 2 inches.
- Then, inhale as you lift your upper chest, arching your back and lifting your head just above your feet. Your body should be held up in a shallow u-shape, almost like a canoe.
- Hold for about two seconds before lowering yourself back onto the mat.
- Repeat as many times as makes sense for your body.
For an easier variation, you can place your palms face down at your sides beside your chest. Push down on your palms to perform each extension, holding for 2 seconds. This should be a position similar to the cobra in yoga.
Machine Back Extension
You’ll need a back extension bench to perform the machine back extension.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
- First, place your legs into the bench and lean into it—your thighs should be pressed up against the machine.
- Make sure your upper body is straight, lining up with your legs. It should be hanging over the machine in the open air, held up by your lower back muscles.
- Cross your arms over your chest and let your body lean down until it forms an upside-down v shape, hinging at your hips.
- Lift your upper body up until straight and lined up with your legs again.
- Repeat as many times as makes sense for your body.
The machine back extension has a fuller range of motion than the basic back extension. It is also able to use your whole body weight as resistance for each repetition. This provides a much stronger workout than a basic back extension.
Weighted Back Extension
If you’d like to go even further, you can try a machine back extension with weights. When you go to start your back extensions, grab a weight plate or dumbbell. Hold the weight close to your chest when you begin the exercise. Finally, perform the back extensions with the weight held in place. It’s that easy. The higher up on your chest you hold the weight, the more resistance it will add.
One thing to be careful of when using weights is that your bench needs to be capable of handling the additional weight. Check to make sure it’s stable with the additional weight, and if you plan on using weights, make sure to factor that into your decision when choosing a back extension machine to buy.
45 vs. 90 Degree Back Extensions
If you’d like to get even more advanced, you have the option of performing a 90 degree back extension. In this version, the dip downwards uses even more bodyweight and strength. The 90-degree angle also helps to work out your core.
With this version, you’ll begin lying parallel to the ground to start, with your thighs and feet supported by your back extension bench. From here, you’ll drop down until your upper body is perpendicular to the floor, with the top of your head almost touching the ground. Then, you’ll lift up back to the parallel position and repeat.
It’s really a lot like the 45-degree angle version, just at a different position, which makes sense.
Finally, make sure you buy a machine that can handle 90-degree back extensions if this is the level of exercise you are interested in, as some can’t handle this kind of exercise. You can of course add weight to this version as well, which will bring you to the most advanced bracket of back extension lifters.
Are back extensions good for your back?
Yes! If you are experiencing lower back pain, training your erector spinal muscles can help to alleviate that pain and prevent it from occurring in the future. However, if you are experiencing a lot of back pain, talk to your doctor first before engaging in intense back extension exercises to make sure it won’t further injure your particular situation.
Back extensions build the muscles that support your lower back and help to hold up your upper body in general. By strengthening your core and lower back, along with your glutes and hamstrings, you’ll maintain better overall health and prevent muscle pain.
What is a back extension bench?
A back extension bench, or roman chair, is a piece of exercise equipment that allows you to perform a back extension with full range of motion. It features a slot for your ankles to hook under and a pad to support your legs and pelvis. By leaning on it at a 45 degree angle, you’ll be able to perform a machine back extension, which uses your body’s weight as resistance.
In a regular back extension, you are stuck on the floor and cannot use your body weight to help with the exercise.
Can you do back extensions everyday?
Yes, back extensions can be done every day. This is especially helpful for those looking for relief from back pain. However, you should modulate the difficulty and amount done every day in order to prevent overworking the muscles.
If you are experiencing a great amount of back pain, you should consult a doctor before getting too serious about back extensions in order to check whether you are at risk of serious injury. They may also suggest how you can adjust your exercises to help with back pain.
We have seen a bunch of great benefits that can be gained from introducing back extensions into your routine. You can start with basic back extensions and move into more advanced extensions on a back extension bench. Depending on the weight and intensity of your needs, there are quite a few options to choose from.
We found that the CAP Strength Roman Chair is the best overall bang for your buck. It features everything you could want for all but the most intense back extension exercises for a great price.
If you’re looking for something with a different look and feel that’s easy to move around and store, the Stamina Hyper Bench is a great second choice. Finally, for pure performance, the Rogue GH-1 Roman Chair is outstanding in every possible way. It’s pricey though, but worth it.