October 11, 2015
By Jared Jones
One of the main reasons that I like hyperextensions and reverse hypers is that you can do them just about anywhere and they do not require any special equipment. Long before I ever saw a hyperextension bench and 50 years prior to the well-engineered reverse hyper machines, competitive weightlifters and bodybuilders were doing these exercises on a regular basis. It just took a bit of imagination. The hypers required a partner. In just about every YMCA weight room there was a leg extension machine. If not, a massage table served the same purpose. You would lie across the leg extension machine or table, facedown, so that your upper body was extended out over the side. Then a training mate would hold tightly to your ankles while you knocked out a set of hypers.
Reverse hypers could be done solo. You’d just grip the sides of the leg extension machine or table, let your lower body hang off the end and proceed to do a set of reverse hypers, lifting your legs up and back. With a bit of thought, anyone can figure out how to do one or the other of these exercises in a motel or at home. When I’m visiting friends, I use the kitchen counter to do reverse hypers or a narrow table that allows me to grip the sides. I place a towel on the surface. I currently do hyperextensions in my apartment by padding a small table and hooking my heels under the open space under my desk. That works just as well as having a bench designed for that purpose.
Of course, having a hyperextension bench or a well-designed reverse-hyper machine is more expedient. Still, it’s good to know that you can work your lumbars rather thoroughly even when you’re on the road. Both exercises can be done with added resistance. For hypers wrap a 10- or 25-pound plate in a towel, and hold it firmly behind your head. More advanced strength athletes can do them with an Olympic bar. That was one of the favorite exercises of the foreign athletes at the ’68 Olympics in Mexico City, and I watched some handle 220 pounds for as many as 20 reps.
Learn your history first.