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11 Roman Chair Exercises

11 Roman Chair Exercises

Does your gym have a roman chair, also called a hyperextension bench? If so, that’s awesome, but are you using it? If not, then you need to get on that. Because the roman chair, while not as widely known as most gym gear, is a versatile piece of equipment that will allow you to make gains in areas that may currently be neglected.

Here are eleven roman chair exercises to consider adding to your workout routine. And as you will see, you can use the roman chair for a full-body workout. If you want help figuring out the best way to incorporate the roman chair into your training, we can help here

What Are Roman Chair Exercises?

These eleven roman chair exercises will offer variety to your workout and help work your core and ab muscles in ways that might currently be missing from your routine. You can create a circuit with some of these or sprinkle them into a regular workout as a break between sets when working on upper or lower body muscle groups. 

When starting, increase from a low rep count as you get more comfortable and your core strengthens. And with all of the exercises, keep your back straight and your core engaged. In addition, in the same way we advocate the use of lifting straps for heavy weights, be sure to take care of your back at all times using these exercises.

Back Extension

The back extension is one of the mainstay roman chair exercises and focuses on your glutes, lower back, and spine area muscles. As your strength grows, you can move on to different variations. 

To do a back extension, climb on the roman chair in a face-down position with your pelvis on the pad and the back of your legs locked into the leg support pads. Put your hands either behind your neck or across your chest. 

Start from a parallel position, and with a slow movement, lower your upper body toward the floor, stop at the bottom, then lift your torso slowly, stopping back at a parallel (or slightly above) position, so you don’t risk long-term back injury. 

Weighted Back Extension

The weighted back extension is a variation of the above, but you are also using a weighted plate to add some resistance to the extension. You should only add a plate after you’ve developed some experience with the roman chair and with back extensions in particular. 

Hold the weight with both hands at your chest, not over your head. Don’t overweight – start small and build from there. 

Alternating Side Back Extension

The alternating side back extension is another variation of the back extension, so you start in the same position. But instead of just lifting your torso straight up, while lifting, you twist your torso to one side, rotating 90 degrees (approximately). 

Again, don’t stray too far past parallel. Stop, and then go back down. For the next one, lift and twist to the other side. That is one rep. Continue alternating to each side. 

As your strength grows, you can add a plated weight with this, using the same form as the back extension.

Side Bend

The side bend is another mainstay roman chair exercise focusing on your obliques. For the side bend, climb onto the roman chair, but instead of your pelvis being on the hip pad, the side of your hips will be against the pad. 

Then your feet will lock into the leg pads with your bottom foot positioned in front of your top foot. Next, rest your lower arm across your abdomen, and place the hand of your upper arm on the side of your head right behind your ear, similar to if you were doing crunches or sit-ups. 

Move your head toward the ground, stopping at the bottom. Then lift past parallel, stop, and go back down again. Keep the movements slow, so there are no momentum bursts at the top and bottom, and make sure you work both sides.

Weighted Side Bend

The weighted side bend is a variation of the above, but you are using a dumbbell for additional resistance. Instead of your lower arm resting across your abdomen, you will be holding a dumbbell and doing the exercise the same way as the side bend. 

You should only move on to this once you’ve been using the roman chair for a while and are comfortable doing side bends. Start with a small weight and build as your oblique strength grows.

Kneeling Preacher Curl

To do a kneeling preacher curl, walk up to the roman chair between the handles while facing the hip and leg pads. Kneel and use the hip pad to rest your arms on, and do bicep curls with the appropriate weight. Ensure the hip pad is raised or lowered to the right height for your body.

Hanging Dip

You will use the handles right behind the hip pad to do a hanging dip. First, ensure the hip pad is adjusted enough for your body – you don’t want your knees hitting the floor when you dip down.

Next, grab the handles with your arms straight and bend your knees, lifting your legs off the ground. Once suspended, bend your arms and dip your body down until your upper arm is parallel to the floor. Once you’ve reached that position, then push yourself back up. 

Incline Push-Up

Stand facing the handles right behind the hip pad for the incline push-up. Lean forward to grab the handles and walk your feet back so your body is fully extended at an angle to the roman chair and your arms are straight. 

You’ll now be in a similar position as a regular push-up from the floor, other than the incline, and you can lower yourself as in a push-up. Lower your chest as far as you can without touching the roman chair, stop slightly, and push yourself back up. Stop again somewhat at the top. 

Keep your body straight, and stop at the top and bottom, so you aren’t using body momentum to work through the exercise.

Roman Chair Sit-Up

The roman chair sit-up is almost the opposite of a back extension. In this case, you sit on the hip pad and lock your legs into the leg supports. Then, cross your arms over your chest or put your hands on the side of your head or the back of your neck. 

Start upright and lower your torso, but don’t go past a parallel position. Stop slightly and then lift yourself back up with your abs. You could also do a crunch in addition to or instead of a sit-up.

Roman Chair Torso Twist

To do a roman chair torso twist takes some additional experience. First, lock in like you’re going to do a sit-up, but instead of being upright, lean back slightly to create an approximately 60-degree angle with the floor. Hold that position, and then twist your torso back and forth. 

Go at a deliberate speed, so your core gets fully used. If you want to challenge yourself, you can add a plated weight by holding the plate with both arms fully extended.

Roman Chair Squat

Depending on the type of roman chair you have, the roman chair squat may or may not be something you can do. But it’s a great way to mix up your squat routine. You’ll want to ensure the hip pads are adjusted low or removed because you’ll be sitting back with this. 

To do it, lock your legs into the leg supports while standing up straight. You can do this with or without a plated weight. All you do from standing is just squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor, then stand up again. Simple. Although having the right shoes can help with traction.

What Are The Benefits Of Roman Chair Exercises?

Since the roman chair focuses on working out the core and ab muscles, as well as the lower back, the primary benefit is an all-around stronger and more balanced core, which can help with better posture and reduced back pain. Other benefits, depending on the roman chair exercises you do, include strengthened glutes and legs.  

4 Reasons You Should Try The Roman Chair Exercises

  • You Want To Improve Your Posture
  • You Want A Stronger Core
  • You Want To Shape Your Glutes
  • You Want To Get Rid Of Your Lower Back Pain


As you can see, the roman chair is the underutilized rock star in the gym. It offers tremendous versatility and can help you fill in some workout routine gaps. So consider incorporating some or all of these roman chair exercises into your training to reap their benefits. I mean, is a six-pack enough anyways?