Roman Chair Sit Ups – How To And Why [2023]

Last Updated on November 15, 2022 by Patrick

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!

Are you looking to build a jaw-dropping body?

The kind that makes both guys and gals smile when they see it?

Well, it all starts with building those core muscles. One way to build rock hard abs is to start with roman chair sit ups.

Seriously. It may be old school but there’s a reason you still find the roman chair in gyms.

The roman chair is also called the GHD (Glute Ham Developer) Machine by some, but what really matters is what you do with it.

The benefits of roman chair sit ups extend beyond your abdominals though. They are also a fantastic way of supercharging your glutes and back (you don’t want to look tough from one side and saggy from the other do you?)

Before we  take a look at how you can use this machine of many names, let’s make sure that we understand why we’re using this in the first place.

Benefits of Roman Chair Sit ups

There are so many reasons to recommend roman chair exercises, but these three main benefits should have convinced you that there are real, practical results that you can achieve with the help of roman chair sit ups. 

1. Improve your posture

When’s the last time you saw someone with great abs slouching when they walk around? Never.

If you have a strong core, your spine is going to thank you – Every. Single. Day. 

2. Relieve Back Pain

No matter your fitness regime, it’s only a matter of time before your body starts to age. If you’re not a fitness freak, that might mean you experiencing back pain earlier than expected (like the rest of corporate America).

Roman chair sit ups are going to allow you to alleviate some of that pain by training your back muscles and ensuring that your abs can take some of the load.

3. Look Great

This one might sound obvious, but there are few things more attractive than a toned core for men or women.

Besides keeping a healthy diet, there’s a very simple to get that 6 pack look. Just work out your abdominal muscles on a consistent schedule without overtraining them. The roman chair is your best friend for this.

Roman Chair Sit ups vs Traditional Sit ups

What about regular sit ups?

A valid question! 

Here’s the thing about sit-ups: They don’t offer you the full range of motion that a roman chair does.

When you’re performing a regular sit up, you don’t have to worry about your back. In fact, you don’t have to use your back muscles at all – so you’re missing out on targeting two muscle groups at the same time.

Not very time efficient, right?

On the other hand, if you use a roman chair – there is no floor to support your back. You’re going to be pushing yourself to get up with each rep, because there is no safety net involved (hard core abdominal muscles do have a price associated with them!).

Now, let’s talk about how you’re going to set it up. There are a couple of variations involved, but for the time being let’s discuss the basic exercise first.

Roman Chair Sit ups Step By Step

Step 1 – Lock in Your Legs

Roman chair sit ups - Lock your feet
Lock your feet into position!

Make sure that the rollers are placed at an appropriate height. You want your legs to be able to support you in case you’re having difficulties with your core.

Step 2 – Lean Back

Roman chair sit ups - Lean Back
Lean Back!

With your feet planted firmly and legs touching the roller gently, slowly stretch back to a position just like you would when performing regular sit ups.

Step 3 – Sit Up

Roman chair sit up - Sit up
Sit Up!

With the help of your back muscles and abs, bring yourself up to a sitting position. If you want, you can also integrate some twists once you’ve come up to a “sitting” position. 

Just make sure that the pace isn’t too slow or too fast! You don’t want to find yourself flailing around like a car dealerships wacky tube man if you lose grip or your core gives out! 

And that’s it folks! You just learned how to use that simple machine to accomplish your goals of getting that coveted six-pack.

Check out this video from PhysednHealth to see how to do roman chair sit ups.

Alternatives to the Roman Chair Sit up

If you’re looking to take your core and upper body to the next level, then here are some variations that you can try out when you have built your abs a bit.

Roman Chair Crunches

In a way, crunches are a bit easier than the standard roman chair sit up as you’re going the full mile. However, the trick here is to go slower. 

Roman chair crunch
Roman chair crunch

Build that tension as you lift yourself up. You’ll be targeting the lower part of your core so make sure that each rep counts!

Roman Chair Side Crunches

Doing side-crunches doesn’t mean you set yourself up sideways. Your legs are still planted in the same fashion as with a standard roman chair sit up, but this time you are twisting your torso to one side and then going down before lifting yourself back up.

It seems simple until you try it.

Weighted Roman Chair Sit ups

Got some weights lying around? Grab ‘em.

When you’re doing a weighted sit up, you want to carry an equal weight in both hands. Start off with something light if you’re not comfortable with the notion of your hands and legs being preoccupied.

You can even do side crunches with weights if you want to get really creative. – just remember to keep the weight in the hand that is facing the floor. 

Roman Chair Leg Raises

Okay, this exercise sort of depends on the type of machine you have access to. But the concept is simple.

You plant your arms on handle bars that are sufficiently high enough that when you tuck in your knees you are effectively floating in mid-air. It’s basically a vertical version of the sit up wherein you go up to compress your abs and release to decompress.

If you don’t have access to an apparatus that enables you to hang in mid air, then don’t worry. You can resort to using the machine creatively.

Sit on the roman chair and orient yourself as if the floor were -45 degrees. Essentially, you’re pivoting on your glutes to create the illusion for your abs that the floor is titled. Now, you can easily compress and decompress as required!

Final Words

Well, well, well – would ya look at that. You’ve not only learnt the benefits of a roman chair, or GHD, how to use one but also have knowledge on how to challenge yourself after you’ve covered the basics.

Hopefully, you’ll reminisce on reading this article on a beautiful day (or night) after basking in the glory of being the guy/gal with a rocking upper body and six pack abs!

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 for Abs: 6 Exercises to Tone Your Core

8 Great Roman Chair Exercises

Further Reading

Want to Learn More About Aerobic Exercise?

Is it worth it to have a treadmill at home? (Yes)

Elliptical vs Treadmill – The cardio throwdown!

Ready to Start Building Your Home Gym?

Start Here! – Best Home Exercise Equipment For Beginners

Working out on a budget? – Best Home Gym Weight Benches Under $350

The original was a hit, check this new and improved bench!

All in One Solutions – 7 Best All in One Home Gyms

Interested in Some Anaerobic Exercise?

Front Squat vs Back Squat – Which is best?

Alternating Sets – Secret weapon in your fitness arsenal?

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