Roman Chair for Abs: 6 Exercises to Absolutely SHRED Your Core! [2022]

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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!

Roman Chair for Abs

The roman chair, also known as the glute ham developer or hyperextension bench is an excellent piece of exercise equipment for getting a great full body workout, but especially for toning your abdominal muscles. It’s also a great way to get in some core training while you work on other muscle groups, like the arms and shoulders. This article will show you 6 exercises that can be done with a roman chair. They are all easy to do and will help increase your strength and overall fitness while you go after those ripped abs you’ve always wanted!

What is a Roman Chair?

The Roman Chair (aka Glute Ham Developer or hyperextension bench) is a stationary piece of exercise equipment including a pad for your groin, hip or butt, ankle pads to secure your feet and sometimes arm rests with handles.

The distance between hip pads and ankle pads can be adjusted on many roman chairs to allow you to work the glutes, core and the lower back.

The compact nature of this piece of fitness equipment makes it a great addition to most any home gym.

Is the Roman Chair Good for Abs?

The roman chair is a great tool for toning and strengthening abs. The exercises that you can do with the roman chair are endless. Some of the benefits of using roman chairs are:

Roman chair exercises offer passive stretching and resistance workouts by supporting the user’s weight in a side bend position, or lifting weights while performing push-ups or bicycle crunches.

Roman chairs are generally well padded, so they can be more comfortable to use compared to other surfaces such as a hard floor when doing ab exercises.

Roman chairs can also be used for postnatal toning exercises, primarily for the abs.

Most any roman chair machine will have backrests, (check out this one for an example) which can be used to provide support during situps or crunches.

Roman Chair Sit Ups

This hyperextension bench exercise works your abs and also incorporates the hip flexors. Make sure you lift up to a 90 degree angle with each sit up to get full benefits, and always engage your core!

First, sit on the hip pad of the roman chair or sit up bench and secure yourself into position by placing your ankles under the ankle pads.

Lean back until your body is straight, at this point you’ll be fighting gravity to hold yourself up and you’ll already be feeling the tension in your abdominal muscles.

Engage your core and sit all the way up, bringing your body upright.

Pause before returning to the starting position.

The benefit of this roman chair exercise compared to a standard sit up is twofold: first, you’re using the force of gravity to provide resistance, and second, your back is not pressed against the floor or any other surface which can cause discomfort or injury.

If you want to take this exercise to the next level, try holding a weight plate against your chest! You can get some really nice cast iron ones here if you need a set!

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

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 Twist

This roman chair exercise is very similar to a classic ab exercise called the Russian twist. It works your obliques, which are the muscles in your sides. You can make this harder by holding a weight to help you gain more strength and stability when doing it!

The beginning position for this exercise is very similar to the roman chair sit up. Sit on the pad of the roman chair and secure yourself into position by placing your ankles underneath the foam rollers.

Weight Bench Exercises for Core - Seated Ab Crunch

This is where things get different. Lean back until your upper body is at about a 45 degree angle. You should be feeling some strain in your abs as you work to hold yourself up.

Cross your arms across your chest or put your hands behind your head and twist your hips, along with the rest of your upper body, side to side.

If you want to up the intensity, try holding a weight plate or dumbbell at arm’s length while you do the twisting motion to provide extra resistance.

Be careful to perform the motion smoothly and slowly to avoid injury, especially if you’re using heavy weights.

When you perform this movement, you should really feel the burn in your abs, especially on the sides in your obliques.

This move will help you improve balance while also working the core and obliques. Make sure that you do both sides evenly for maximum effectiveness!

Roman Chair Leg Raise

This exercise targets your lower abs, but it also works the obliques. To make this harder, try adding in some weight!

To start, you need to find a vertical roman chair, captain’s chair, or power tower.

Stand with your back against the pad on the roman chair and place your forearms on the pads.

You should position yourself with your legs hanging freely and your arms and shoulders supporting you.

Keep your back straight and lift your legs out in front of you. You can either keep your legs straight, or bend them at the knees.

With this move you are working all of the muscles that surround your core. Make sure to keep your back straight when doing these and don’t let it arch or curl too much otherwise you won’t be working your muscles correctly.

You can even perform this exercise while hanging from a pull up bar!

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

Roman Chair Bicycle Crunches

First, get into the same position as the roman chair leg raise:

Stand with your back against the pad on the roman chair and place your forearms on the pads.

You should position yourself with your legs hanging freely and your arms and shoulders supporting you.

Now, bend your legs at the knees and bring them up towards your chest, one after the other.

Move your feet in a circular motion out in front of you, the idea is to emulate the pedaling motion you do on a bicycle.

The combination of holding your legs out in front of you and bringing your knees to your chest will leave you quickly feeling the burn in your abs.

This exercise will help you work all of the muscles in your core, including the upper abs and obliques! Make sure that when doing these to keep your neck straight so that it is not supporting any weight. This can put unnecessary stress on the back of your neck which could cause injury.

Roman Chair Side Bends

For this exercise, you want to get into the same starting position as you did for the roman chair twists, except with your upper body rotated so that your hip is resting on the pad rather than your butt.

Sit on the pad of the roman chair, secure your legs underneath the foam rollers, rotate your torso and lean backward until your whole body is at about a 45 degree angle.

From here, instead of twisting your body, you’re going to tilt side to side, bending at the waist.

Holding a weight plate to your chest is a great way to enhance this exercise by providing some resistance for those of you with stronger than average abs.

This exercise is great for a strong core. When doing the side bends, be careful to keep your back straight so that you are working all of your muscles and not just one section! It’s also important to do both sides equally as well in order to have an effective workout.

Other Roman Chair Workouts

Interested in working out some other muscle groups with your roman chair?

Check out this article to find 8 Great Roman Chair Exercises from the back extension to the isometric glute hold, you’ll find roman chair exercises to build strong back muscles, improve bad posture, relieve back pain or increase back mobility! Roman chairs are so versatile, you can find exercises for any fitness goals!

If you need a roman chair to get started, check out our list of the best roman chairs on the market!

What Muscles Does the Roman Chair Work?

The roman chair exercises we just went over primarily work your core.

In detail, these roman chair exercises will work the core muscles that surround the abdominal area including your abdominal rectus abdominis, external oblique abdominis, internal oblique abdominis.

Roman chair exercises are also fantastic for working your lower lack muscles, hip flexors and even chest and shoulders. Roman chair exercise equipment is famously useful for resolving lower back pain.

Final Words

As you can see, the roman chair is an effective tool that provides endless opportunities for toning and strengthening your core as well as increasing mobility and relieving back pain. The five roman chair workouts mentioned above are just a small portion of what you could do on a roman chair, so try some of the exercises that you see on this page and have fun getting a strong core!

More Roman Chair Info

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!

Interested in learning more about roman chairs? Check out our other articles!

The Roman Chair Back Extension: How To and Why

Roman Chair Leg Raises/Captain’s Chair Leg Raises: How To

Roman Chair Sit Ups – Step by Step

8 Great Roman Chair Exercises

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