Roman Chair Side Bends: A Simple Guide [2023]

Last Updated on November 15, 2022 by Patrick

Roman chair side bends are a great exercise for sculpting that coveted V shape by targeting your external oblique muscles. In this article, we are going to go over the benefits of performing side bends on the roman chair, how to perform them correctly so you don’t risk injury, and what equipment is necessary. We will also be giving you a few variations that increase the difficulty level for this exercise!

What is a Roman Chair?

The roman chair, or hyperextension bench is a piece of equipment that can be found in most gyms.

A roman chair consists of a hip pad, and an adjustable bar or platform below it where you put your knees or ankles depending on what exercise you are performing.

The most common type of roman chair used by bodybuilders has a flat bench, while other types have an angled bench.

We will be going over this exercise using both types of roman chair.

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!

What is a Side Bend?

A side bend is an exercise that primarily targets your external oblique muscles. It involves bending sideways at the waist, typically this done with just body weight, but can also be done while using a weight such as a dumbbell or medicine ball for more resistance.

Why Perform a Side Bend?

There are many benefits to performing side bends. They help to sculpt the coveted V shape, increase flexibility in the spine and hips, and can also help improve posture.

How to Do Roman Chair Side Bends:

First we will go over roman chair side bends using a standard, flat roman chair or hyperextension bench.

Step 1: Get Into the Starting Position

Lie with your hip sideways against the pad of the roman chair and your legs locked into place with your feet underneath the ankle rollers.

Keep your torso completely straight, in this position your hips stabilize your upper body.

You should be positioned with your torso parallel to the floor and your feet underneath the foam pads.

Place your hands behind your head or across your chest.

Step 2: Lower Your Upper Body

Slowly, lower yourself down as far as you can, extending your abdominal and oblique muscles.

Make sure to perform the entire movement with a controlled, smooth motion. You should feel a stretching in your obliques and hip joint muscles.

Step 3: Return to The Starting Position

Use your core to slowly and smoothly pull your upper body back up into the starting position with your torso parallel to the floor.

That’s one rep complete!

Key Points:

Keep your knees straight to ensure that the hip joint muscles stabilize the pelvic girdle and that the trunk and spinal muscles do the work.

If you’re able to do so, stacking your feet on top of one another sideways can make the movement a bit more comfortable.

At the top of the motion, after you’ve returned to the starting position between each rep, try squeezing your abdominal and oblique muscles to really engage those muscles and feel the burn!

What Muscles do Roman Chair Side Bends Work?

The external obliques are the primary muscles targeted by this exercise. However, other muscles such as the internal obliques, rectus abdominis (abs), and erector spinae (lower back) also get a good workout.

What Are External Obliques?

The external oblique muscles are located on the side of your torso and are responsible for rotating your body from side to side as well as flexing and bending sideways. The external oblique muscles are also responsible for the “V” shape that many people strive to achieve.

The 45 Degree Side Bend

Performing the side bend motion on an inclined bench or 45 degree roman chair or hyperextension bench is almost exactly the same as the standard flat roman chair variation, but generally easier and more comfortable.

The effort required is for the 45 degree side bend is marginally less, but the increased comfort may make this a better option for you!

Weighted Roman Chair Side Bends

If you are looking to take your roman chair side bend exercise to the next level, adding resistance in the form of a dumbbell, weight plate or medicine ball can do just that!

You can do this with either the standard or 45 degree side bend exercise!

This will add an extra challenge and help to really target those external obliques.

When adding weight, always make sure that you are doing so in a way that is safe and comfortable for you.

Start with a light dumbbell and increase as needed.

How Many Reps?

A good number of reps to aim for when performing the roman chair side bend exercise is 12-15. You can do this all at once, or break it up into multiple sets. Just make sure you’re giving your muscles enough time to recover in between!

Once you’ve completed your reps on one side, switch to the opposite side!

Final Words

Roman chair side bends and 45 degree side bends are an excellent way to target your obliques and other muscles in the body. It is also a great exercise for improving flexibility, posture, and helping to sculpt that “V” shape everyone’s striving for!

This article has gone over how to do roman chair side bends using both a flat hyperextension bench as well as inclined benches, as well as how to add weight for an extra challenge. Reps and sets recommendations have also been given. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!

More Roman Chair and Hyperextension Bench 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!

Roman Chair Sit Ups – Step by Step How To

The Roman Chair Back Extension: How To and Why

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

Roman Chair for Abs: 6 Exercises to Tone Your Core

8 Great Roman Chair Exercises

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