The low back is one of the most important areas of the body to exercise, unfortunately, it is also one of the most neglected. Part of the reason it is neglected is because the low back (part of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex), is used in all movements. However, that is no reason not to train it, if anything, that shows how important it IS to train that area.
Strengthening your lower back will make you stronger in all functional and weight bearing movements. It also reduces low back pain and injury. Whether you are an athlete or a desk jockey, training your lower back is crucial. This weeks exercise is called the Back Extension and uses a Roman Chair machine (also know as a Glute Ham Developer machine). The great thing about this machine is that it also strengthens your gluteal (butt) muscles , hamstring (back of legs) muscles, and gastrocnemii (calf) muscles. How to perform a back extension with a Glute Ham Developer machine:
Position yourself onto the Roman Chair (see video for details).
Place your fingertips behind your ears, and pull your elbows back causing your chest to protrude forward.
Lower your torso down slowly, then raise up until you are parallel to the ground (advanced folks can raise up higher).
Repeat lowering and raising your torso in a slow controlled manner for the required amount of repetitions.
If the exercise is too hard, practice raising only half way up, or even a quarter of the way up. If the exercise is too easy, hold a barbell plate or medicine ball on your chest for more resistance.
*Warning: Keep a slow controlled pace throughout the movement, and Never pull yourself up quickly, or let yourself drop quickly. Doing so can injure your lower back, or other muscles.
Sets and Reps:
Beginners can start with one set of 8-12 repetitions, using only your body weight.
Advanced folks can perform 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions, adding weight as needed.
Below is a short tutorial of how to perform back extension using a Roman Chair (glute-ham developer machine).
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Author, The Short Fight
Back Extensions using a Roman Chair