Back Exercises

Anatomy of an Exercise: 45° Back Extension

How to bang out safer sets on the back extension bench.

Anatomy of an Exercise: 45° Back Extension

The Move

Descend until your upper body is just below parallel to the floor, then come back to the starting position, with your body in a straight line, without using momentum. Most of the work will come from your lower back muscles. A steady eccentric contraction of these muscles is essential for lowering your upper body under control, and a powerful concentric contraction is needed to come back up. Just don’t let these muscles work alone. Contract your glutes and hamstrings and you’ll give work to more of your posterior chain.

Head/Neck

Keep your neck in a neutral position. Avoid tucking your chin into your chest as your upper body moves toward the floor.

Feet

Plant your feet on the base plate, with your heels jammed all the way against the back lip of the plate and your toes pointed straight forward.

Hands

Cross your arms in front of you with your fingers touching the opposite shoulder, or clasp your hands behind your head.

Tip

Once you’ve mastered the move and can bang out 15–20 reps without a problem, add resistance by holding a weight plate at your chest or behind your head.

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