Reviewing The Basics Of The Back Extension
The 45 Degree Back Extension Station. You’ve probably seen one or two in almost every commercial and independent gym you’ve ever been to. You probably are aware by now that Back Extensions really are a fantastic exercise for strengthening your entire posterior chain. So not only does it hit your lower back; it’ll also hit your glutes as well as your hamstrings. And at this point you’ve probably been taught to add them to the latter part of your workouts after performing a major compound movement as an accessory/isolation exercise, regardless of your goals.
But have you ever considered the benefits of performing this great exercise before a major lift?
Isolating The Lower Back Before Training
Going back to the very first 5×5 style routine, published by the legendary Reg Park, Reg prescribed three sets of Back Extensions at the beginning of each training day. It didn’t matter what each workout entailed so long as they were all preceded by this classic move. There are, however, quite a few benefits to moving this exercise from the latter part of your routine to the very beginning, of which I experienced myself:
- Increased Overall Core Strength – you read that correctly! In terms of core strength, it’s easy to associate that with solely training your abs via crunches, sit ups, planks, side planks, etc. But your lower back is primarily what generates the strength required for key compound movements such as the Squat, The Overhead Press and the Deadlift. Also, since you’ll now be performing the Back Extension before anything else, you can also add weights to each set without fear of straining a tired lower back or even a resistance band for added tension and eventual increased speed if you’d like. If you’re not convinced yet, I personally have noticed a more than substantial increase in the strength of my own squats and deadlifts. In September of 2018, it was a chore to pull 375lb for just a single and with my Inzer Forever Belt. But with the inclusion of Back Extensions (with adding a resistance band and weight later on) I was able to effortlessly pull 370lbs for a triple, without the need for my belt. A stronger lower back makes for a stronger, quality workout.
- Injury Prevention – Any time you perform any isolation/accessory work following any compound movement you’re going to risk an injury or some kind of strain. Your most likely tired, causing you to lack some concentration which can lead to misstep in performing the rest of your routine and it’s all over. On the opposite end of the spectrum, performing a compound movement without a true warm-up for the lower back can also lead to the same kind of risk, as performing a deadlift or squat with a weakened lower back can lead to far more disastrous predicament. I’ve found that in performing the Back Extension early in my own routines, I’ve not only seen the earlier mentioned increase in my own lifts, I’ve also been able to add a far more considerable amount of weight and even speed to my sets with the use of a mini resistance band and dumbbells. In fact, right before I fell ill this past Valentine’s Day I has been able to perform a top Back Extension set of 90lbs for ten reps with the added tension from my resistance band.
My advice for those of you possible looking to try the Back Extension as a preventative exercise is to start off with just three sets of ten for a week or two to get used to the movement pattern. After that slowly add weight each training day and increase it slowly. If your gyms happens to include incremental dumbbells (ones the weight anywhere in between the typical 5lb increases) then take advantage of those to avoid stagnation and a potential injury. It’d be ironic that you’d hurt yourself while trying to avoid just that!