Reverse Hyperextension Alternatives

In this article we will offer five reverse hyperextension alternatives for coaches and athletes who may not have access to a reverse hyperextension machine and/or are looking to diversify their glute and hamstring accessory programming. In the sections below we will briefly review the benefits and technique used in the reverse hyperextension (machine) and uncover reverse hyperextension alternatives coaches and athletes can integrate immediately into training programs.

Reverse Hyperextension Overview

The reverse hyperextension is an accessory movement that can be used to increase muscle hypertrophy and function of the glutes and hamstrings. Athletes who partake in strength, power, and fitness sports may find this very useful increasing their ability to build more muscle mass in the muscle groups involved in explosive lifts, heavy pulls, squatting, sprinting, and general lower back health/injury prevention. In the below video the reverse hyperextension is performed using a reverse hyperextension machine. Note the importance of the setup, body position during each repetition, speeds of contraction, and eccentric lowering of the load.

Reverse Hyperextension Benefits

In an earlier article we discussed the benefits of the reverse hyperextension, which included (1) increase glute and hamstring development, (2) improve hip extension, and (3) injury resilience (lower back, hamstrings, and glutes) during many strength, power, and fitness movements. You can read the full article here.

6 Reverse Hyperextension Alternatives

In the below section you will find three (3) reverse hyperextension variations that can be used as alternatives when you do not have access to a reverse hyperextension machine. Additionally, you will also find three (3) exercises that target the hamstrings and glutes in a very similar manner to the reverse hyperextension, yet offer slightly different benefits to coaches and athletes.

Bench Reverse Hyperextensions

This alternative can be done when you do not have access to a reverse hyperextension machine or GHD. It is simple to set up and allows you to perform generally the same movement as shown above. This alternative does limit the amount of external loading you can place on the glutes and hamstrings while also limiting the full range of motion (when compared to other alternatives). Nonetheless, the bench reverse hyperextension is a viable alternative to the reverse hyperextension machine. Note, this can be done with straight legs or bent knees depending on goal (bent knees will isolate glutes better).

GHD Reverse Hyperextensions

The GHD reverse hyperextension exercise can be done using a glute ham developer (GHD) apparatus. Simply place your hip crease on the thigh pads and face the foot slots (see below video). This will allow you to set you body at parallel to the floor with the legs and feet off the ground. Resistance can be added by placing a band around the base of the GHD and the feet of the athlete (as seen in the video below).

Box Reverse Hyperextensions

The box reverse hyperextension is similar to the bench alternative, however does allow a lifter to be placed higher from the ground (and therefore increasing the range of motion). By increasing this range of motion, you allow for greater movement and hypertrophy of the hamstring and glutes throughout the hip extension range. Similar to many of the reverse hyperextension alternatives on this list, adding additional loading (in the ranges of 25-50% of squat max) is limited. Discomfort caused by the edge of the box can be minimized if you place a pad, towel, or hoodie on the hip crease.

Back Raises

Back raises can be done on either the back raise apparatus or on a GHD. The key here is to keep the knees straight so that the hamstrings are lengthen maximally. While this exercise does also target the lower back (and upper/middle back, especially if load is placed on the back of the traps with a barbell), it can still do a good job of increasing muscle hypertrophy and activation of the glutes and hamstrings (especially if the athlete is conscious of using those muscles to fuel the movement).

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Glute Ham Raises

This is a common accessory exercise to increase glute and hamstring hypertrophy and function in most fitness and training facilities. In the below video, a slight modification is made to increase the difficulty of the standard GHD exercise to increase teh amount of hamstring lengthening to increase hypertrophy.

Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls

While this is not very similar to reverse hyperextensions or most of the above alternatives, it is a very effective hamstring and glute exercise that can increase muscle hypertrophy and injury resilience. This movement works to increase hamstring firing and eccentric abilities, especially when done at a strict tempo or with explosive repetitions.

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