Reps of back extension have been show to reduce lumbar back pain.
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Back extensions, whether done dynamically for reps or isometrically for time, are effective for developing strength and endurance in your erector spinae muscles. The erector spinae group runs along your spine and is responsible for extending your spine. Whether back extension reps or holds are better depends on your training goals. However, a comprehensive back strengthening workout is comprised of both.
Benefits of Back Extension Holds
With back extension holds, you're developing isometric endurance in your erector spinae. Instead of your muscles shortening and lengthening as you perform reps, they maintain their length to keep you in a set position against resistance over time. This is how they have to work to keep your spine in proper alignment when you're sitting and standing throughout the day. If your back suffers from isometric weakness, fatigue will prevent you from maintaining proper posture. In addition, during compound, multi-joint exercises where your erector spinae muscles have to hold your back straight, such as they do during deadlifts or squats, a lack of isometric strength can hinder your performance and lead to back problems.
Benefits of Back Extension Reps
Isometric exercises, like back extension holds, cause you to build strength only at the angle at which you're maintaining during the exercise. Performing reps of back extensions, however, will effectively developing strength in the erector spinae throughout a greater range of motion. According to ExRx.net, performing reps of back extension throughout a greater range of motion has shown to successfully decrease lower-back pain due to strains, degenerative issues, disc syndrome and spondylolisthesis.
Performing Back Extensions
Back extensions are most commonly performed on a hyperextension apparatus, which depending on the unit you're using, places you in a completely prone or 45-degree angle position. The pads at your thighs should sit just below your pelvis so that your torso is free to flex and extend. With your heels securely positioned under the pads to hold you secure and your arms crossed over your chest, bend forward at the waist to lower your head toward the floor. Come back up by extending your spine to complete the rep. Complete one to two sets of 12 reps. For the back extension hold, hold your body in the top position so that your torso is right in line with your thighs. Hold this position for two sets, with each one lasting 15 to 20 seconds.
Effective and Safe Back Training
A comprehensive lower-back-strengthening workout should incorporate both reps and holds of back extensions. Building both isometric and dynamic strength will reduce your risk of lower-back pain and injury during daily activities and also improve your erector spinae's ability to handle compound movements like bending over and squatting. Incorporate back extension reps and holds into your regimen two days per week. Perform a 10 to 15-minute dynamic warm-up before each workout. If you include back extensions into your full-body workouts, schedule them at the end so that your erector spinae muscles aren't fatigued for your session.