Hyperextension benches are popular machines in both commercial and home gyms because they do not take up a lot of space. However, you can perform a limited number of exercises on a hyperextension bench. It is basically a core machine that targets the lower back, abdominals and glutes, although the hamstrings may also be worked.
Hyperextension benches come in flat benches and 45-degree benches. Exercises on the 45-degree benches are easier, because you stand at an angle instead of lying flat. Gravity exerts less force on your body when you are at an angle with your head above your feet.
Hyperextension Back Extensions
Back extensions on a hyperextension bench target your lower back, glutes and hamstrings. Unlike a back extension on the floor, your body can dip lower in the beginning of the motion for a fuller range of motion. To perform a back extension, lie on a flat bench with your heels hooked under the rollers, or stand on a 45-degree machine with your hips against the hip pad and your feet standing on the foot plates. With your hands behind your head, bend forward from your waist and lean toward the floor, then raise your upper body back up and beyond the point where your torso aligns with your legs.
Hyperextension Side Crunches
Side crunches on the hyperextension bench allow for a greater range of motion than the same exercise performed on the floor. This exercise targets your oblique muscles, which are the abdominal muscles near your sides -- the ones that cinch in your waist. To perform this exercise, move the hip pad to the appropriate height. Press your right hip against the pad and cross your arms over your chest. Bend from your waist sideways to the right and toward the floor. Do not twist your back. Repeat on the other side. The top oblique muscle works to raise your body, so the side crunch must be done first on one side, and then on the other, to work both sides.
Crunches are easy on a 45-degree machine, because your abs are not lifting your torso against gravity. To perform a hyperextension crunch, lie face up and hook the front of your ankles under your leg roller or press your feet against the front of the foot plate on a 45-degree machine. Place your hands behind your head and lift your back to bring your shoulders toward your hips. Lower your shoulders back down and repeat the recommended number of reps.