8 Great Roman Chair Exercises – 2021

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A roman chair, or hyperextension bench is an lesser known, yet extremely valuable piece of gear for so many reasons.
If you’re serious about getting into great shape, check out our rankings of the
10 Best Roman Chairs and Hyperextension Benches For Your Home Gym!

8 Great Roman Chair Exercises

We’re all sitting more in the modern world compared to our ancestors. That’s why we need to focus on our back muscles to improve our posture (slouching is inevitable but we can focus on working through it), strengthen our glutes and toughen up our core.

Luckily, the roman chair is a great tool for strengthening abdominal muscles, losing weight and so much more!

Let’s take a look at how you can use a roman chair to not only tackle the problem described above, but also add a little creativity to your workouts!

Roman Chair Exercises for your Back

1. Side Bends

Side Bends are a great way to not only improve your obliques but also get that jaw-dropping V-shaped upper body.

Plus, they’re really simple!

Roman Chair Exercises
Roman Chair Side Bends

You start off by placing your body is a sideways fashion so that your legs are clamped down by the roman chairs ankle pads. Then, placing one hand on the lower abdomen and one hand on your head (kind of like a soldier saluting) you’ve to do some sideways core sit-ups. Make sure to extend only as far as you are comfortable with – it’s easy to pull a muscle if you push too hard!

If you would like to increase the difficulty of this exercise, consider adding a weight plate. Make sure to pick something that you can easily lift up too – you aren’t bench pressing here.

2. Back Extensions

This exercise, also known as the roman chair hyperextension is a great roman chair exercise that really strengthens your back muscles.

To get into the starting position, place yourself against the roman chairs groin pad so that you’re in a face down position and your hips are just below the padded surface and your legs are adequately resisted by the ankle pads.

Roman Chair Back Extension

Now with your hands clasped together on your chest (like when doing sit-ups), simply extend downwards until your elbows are above the floor and then push back up.

One thing to remember when performing the roman chair hyperextension is that you really want to follow good posture. First off, doing so incorrectly can lead to unnecessary pain. Second, you don’t want to look like a flailing fish right?

Just like the side bends, you can add a weight plate to challenge yourself even more – but only once you’ve gotten the posture nailed perfectly.

Another example of a Roman Chair Back Extension

Roman Chair Exercises for your Abs

1. Roman Chair Sit Up

If you ever wanted to do sit up in mid-air then this is your best bet!

By placing your buttocks on the padded area and resting your feet below the ankle pads, you want to tilt backwards as far as possible (without putting too much pressure on your feet) and slowly pull yourself back up.

Remember that you’re working out your core here so don’t rely on your hands, back muscles or legs!

If you want a more in depth look at this exercise, check out our write up here!

2. Roman Chair Leg Raise

This is one of the most effective ab exercises out there. (And one of my personal favorites!)

The roman chair leg raise is a lot like a sit up in reverse and works your core muscles in a similar way.

Brace yourself against a vertical roman chair with your forearms on the pads and exhale as you lift your legs out in front of you, bringing them into a parallel position with the floor and engaging your core.

Once your legs are fully extended, inhale as you return to the starting position.

You can even do leg raises from a pull up bar!

After a few sets of these, I guarantee you will feel that six pack growing!

If you want to know more about this exercise, check out our comprehensive guide, here!

3. Roman Chair Crunches

Roman Chair Crunches are just like the Roman Chair Sit Up except that you restrict your movement to a smaller arc. While this does limit your range of motion, you can stay in those mid-positions longer to increase the difficulty. Plus, if you’re up for a challenge see if you can add some weights while doing those reps!

You might be thinking that there is little benefit from doing crunches versus sit-ups. Valid question, partner!

You see, if sit ups are too difficult for you as you’re getting started but you still want to work on your core then crunches are the ideal recipe.

Roman Chair Crunches

Plus, they’re really helpful in the case where you’re recovering from an injury and just want to ease into your workout sessions.

4. Roman Chair Twist or Roman Chair Plate Twist

This one is a pretty simple, but brutal way to hit all of the muscle groups in your core.

Step 1. Sit down on your roman chair with your legs secured by the rollers and lean back until you can feel the muscles in your core engage.

Step 2. Hold a weight plate at arm’s length and rotate your torso.

Step 3. Feel the burn.

Roman Chair Exercises for your Glutes

1. Isometric Glute Hold

The Isometric Glute Hold looks easy. Honestly, it starts off easy as well – but gets increasingly difficult as time goes on.

By placing your groin area on the padded surface and your legs beneath the rollers, you want to position your lower body in a straight line. Now try to match your upper body at the same level of the lower body by extending upwards and holding that position! After about 5 seconds, you’ll start to feel the burn and never underestimate this exercise again!

As always, make sure not to extend yourself too much. Take some breaks in between or warm up through other exercises to get the blood flowing.

2. Glute Ham Developer

The Glute Ham Developer is very similar to the back extension we discussed above. But since we’re targeting the glutes, there are some modifications that we need to do.

First off, you’ll position your legs beneath the roller but this time doing so at a 45 degree angle. Then, with your arms crossed against your chest, you’ll go down in a way such that you’re using your hips as your main pivot point.

Think of it like this: Your hips are the pin about which you are rotating your upper body.

But we’re not done yet!

You’ll be taking much shorter strides in this exercise. You should feel your glutes expanding up a bit from time to time – and that’s totally fine.

One word of caution here though: You are relying on your neck and spine to complete the upper body’s range of motion so make sure to not overdo it. Neither of those body parts are going to be easy to fix if things go awry – and it’s up to you to recognize when to stop.

Final Words

Hip, Hip Hooray! (See what I did there?)

We’ve gone over all the necessary details for you to get started on your roman chair and beat those couch potato vibes with some killer roman chair exercises.

Whether it’s your back, abs or glutes – you’ve gotten enough information to get into shape in no time.

P.S. What do you think the Romans would think about their names being attached to this piece of gym equipment? It does add a certain flair to the whole experience does it not?

Further Reading

Did you enjoy our list about roman chair exercise? Did we inspire you to go out and get that full body workout you’ve been craving? Let us know in the comments!

If you haven’t already check out our list of the best roman chairs for your home gym!

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