Back extension



Muscle Groups

Planes of Motion

Outer Unit

Necessary Material

Progression Material


The back extension strengthens the posterior chain. The gluteus muscles, hamstrings and adductor magnus are strengthened dynamically while synergistically working together to extend the hips. The lower back extensors function as stabilisers and are strengthened isometrically.

Development of dynamic flexibility in the hamstring muscles.

The back extension is far more functional than a machine leg curl. During sprinting the muscles of the posterior chain are the dominant muscles in propelling the body forward through a powerful hip extension. The posterior chain muscles provide stability in the lower back and SI joint.

Starting Position

Lie facedown on a back extension apparatus.

Raise the upper body until the body is straight.


Lower the upper body by bending at the hips. Keep the back straight.

Lower the upper body until a mild stretch is felt in the hamstrings.

Return to the starting position.

Coaching Keys

The movement occurs at hip level. Keep the spine neutrally aligned throughout the entire exercise.

Avoid hyperextension of the spine.

Keep the head neutrally aligned with the spine.

Hold a weight plate behind the head or in front of the chest to add difficulty.


As a progression perform the single-leg back extension

  • Single-leg back extension

    The back extension is an intermediate lower body exercise. This exercise targets the hamstrings, gluteus maximus and back extensor muscles. Loading the body asymmetrically engages the core muscles even more.