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How to Do Back Extensions on the Exercise Ball

Strengthen Your Back on an Exercise Ball


Updated January 15, 2012

back extension on a fitness ball

Back extension on a fitness ball

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Sometimes the exercise featured here is called a reverse back extension because the exercise is often done the other way around with a specialized back extension station or by lying face-down on the ground and lifting upper body and legs.

In this form, you use an exercise ball. Here's how to do it.

  • Choose a ball that will allow you to lie on your back over the ball while planting your feet firmly on the floor. (See diagram.)
  • Lie across the ball, feet on the floor and arms hanging comfortably from the shoulders.
  • Roll your shoulders over the ball so that the back extends across the surface of the ball. Make sure to stay stabilized with feet on the floor.
  • Lift the upper body back to neutral position. You can even move into to the crunch position with shoulders forward if you want to combine both back extension and abdominal crunch exercises.
  • Do ten extensions in a set. Try two sets to start with.
  • Don't extend too far. Just enough to extend the curve of the back is enough. Don't do this exercise if you feel pain in the back when you do it, or if you get ongoing pain after exercise.
  • The back extension exercise helps strengthen the lower back muscles and supports other back and core muscles for exercises like the deadlift and the squat, as well as providing robustness for twisting activities in many sports.
Related Video
How to Do a Pilates Ball Extension Exercise

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