Back Extensions

by Al Myers

The top picture is the starting position for a Back Extension, while the lower picture is the finishing position.

This is an excellent “finishing movement” to a heavy night of deadlifting and squatting. On top of that, it is an Official USAWA Lift!  It is in our Rulebook and but TOTALLY ABSENT in our Record List.  NO ONE has ever done it in a record day and it has never been contested in a USAWA competition.   This surprises me as it is a great exercise that works the lower back.  I like doing them after my heavy training and train them in a higher rep fashion, but this lift is well-suited for a maximum attempt.  I’ll refresh everyone on the USAWA Rule for Back Extensions as I’m sure most lifters are not familiar with this lift:

D11.  Extension – Back

A Roman Chair or similar apparatus is used for this lift. A bar is placed in front of the Roman Chair on the platform. The lifter will take a position on the Roman Chair facing the platform that allows the lifter’s body to bend fully downward at the waist. The seat must not touch the lifter’s torso. The legs must be straight and may be secured. The seat must be parallel to the floor and must not be raised at any angle. At the lifter’s discretion, the lifter will bend at the waist to a 90 degree angle, and fix the bar into the crooks of the elbows, with the arms bent. Once in this position, an official will give a command to rise. The lifter will raise the body to a position where the line of the back is parallel to the platform. The bar must remain fixed in the crooks of the elbows or it will be a disqualification. There must not be any downward movement of the body once the body has started to rise. Once the lifter is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

The biggest difficulty with this lift is having the proper apparatus to do it on.  The seat must be the perfect height to allow the lifter to bend at the waist and place the bar in the crooks of the elbows at a full bend of 90 degrees.  Also, the feet must be secured  staight back for support.  An apparatus like this is usually not available in most gyms, and thus probably why this lift has not been done.  I like using my Glute-Ham device for this as the seat and feet supports are adjustable and allows me to get into perfect position. 

I have never done a max attempt on Back Extensions, but just might do one at my next record day.  After all, it looks like setting a record in it would be very easy as there are not any!!! However, don’t expect to get an IAWA World Record in the Back Extension as this lift IS NOT an IAWA official lift.

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