In fact, some people argue that biasing back extensions for glutes is the safest way to use this machine!
If you’re bored with your current glute routine–and you’re looking for a fresh, new way to strengthen and tone what’s behind you– you’re in the right place.
Today, I’ll show you how to use the back extension machine to unlock your glute gains. We’ll cover:
- What Is a Back Extension Machine? 45-Degree vs. Horizontal
- Back Extension for Glutes How To & Form
- The WHY Behind Back Extension for Glutes Proper Form
- Glute Back Extensions vs. Hamstring Back Extensions
- Variations of Back Extensions for Glutes
- Our Best Glute Resources!
- FAQs on Back Extensions for Glutes
What Is a Back Extension Machine?
First, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.
45-Degree Back Extension Machine
A back extension machine–also called a hyperextension machine–looks like this.
You may have seen it at your gym.
This particular version is called the 45-degree angle back extension machine–due to the angle your body makes when using it.
Horizontal Back Extension Machine
There’s also the horizontal version of this machine–pictured below.
This machine takes a slightly different angle, and your body will start this exercise in a 180-degree straight line.
Why I Recommend the 45-Degree Back Extension Machine
For today’s purposes, we’ll focus solely on the 45-degree back extension machine, and that’s for a few reasons:
- The 45-degree back extension machine promotes a greater range of motion.
- The 45-degree back extension machine makes it easier to feel if you’re overextending your back.
For these reasons, this machine is ideal if you’re:
- Just starting out with this exercise.
- Trying to avoid lower back pain.
Back Extensions for Glutes: How to Do a Glute Back Extension
Okay, so once you find a 45-degree back extension machine at your gym, you’re set to ignite those glutes. But the thing is: You can’t just do a regular back extension and expect those glutes to get all the attention they need.
In fact, for a back extension for glutes, you’ll need to ignore what you see other people doing at the gym and listen to these techniques.
Let’s start with an overview:
Pro Tips on Back Extensions for Glutes
1) Set the glute machine to be level with your pubic bone. Your hip bones should be above the top of the pad.
2) Place your feet on the platform. Point your toes out, so both feet are at a 45-degree angle.
3) Cross your arms, and begin to lower your torso. As you do this, engage your abs, and round your back.
4) Keep this form as you raise your torso back up–never allowing your back to fully straighten.
5) Pause at the top of the motion. Then repeat.
And just like that, we’ve converted the regular back extension into a back extension for glutes.
But if you’re anything like me, you want to know the WHY behind what you’re doing. So, let’s dig deeper and get a more detailed explanation.
WHY These Positions Work: Back Extensions for Glutes
1) Set the glute extension machine to the proper height.
How do you do this?
First, locate your pubic bone–which is on the lower front of your pelvis. When using the back extension machine, your pubic bone should just hit the top of the pad.
Another way to think about this is to place your mid/upper thighs on the pad–making sure your hip bones are above the pad.
Why this position?
Ensuring your hip hones are above the pad makes for the perfect form when you fold at the waist–giving you a full range of motion, which is exactly what we’re looking for!
2) Step onto the platform, allowing the bottom pads to support your leg just above the ankle on your lower shins.
Your feet should be shoulder-width apart on the platform.
3) Point out your toes to 45-degrees.
Once you get your feet on the platform, angling your feet so your toes are pointed outward to a 45-degree angle will help you target those glutes.
How so, you ask?
Hamstrings really like to engage during a back extension. And they’re the muscle that really gets worked in a typical back extension.
So, for a back extension for glutes, foot positioning is gonna be the key to taking the spotlight off the hamstrings.
Pointing out your toes places your hips into external rotation, which places more emphasis on your glutes and less on your hamstrings.
4) Engage your abs, and round your back.
In a back extension, you lower your torso down. Then raise it back up.
During a typical, hamstring-focused back extension, the back remains straight for the entirety of the motion.
In a back extension for glutes, you’re gonna want to:
1) Engage your abs
2) Round your back
And when you do this, you take the emphasis off of your spinal erectors and your hamstrings and place it on your glutes.
This is because when you engage your abs, your lower back naturally disengages, getting the glutes involved for support instead.
It’s almost like doing a crunch–but up in the air. Crunch your abs together, and keep them crunched the whole time. This will automatically round your back and give you a glute back extension.
Glute Back Extensions vs. Hamstring Back Extensions: What’s the Difference?
So, if you want to focus on your hamstrings rather than your glutes, how do you change your form?
For a hamstring-focused back extension:
1) Keep your toes pointed forward rather than angled out.
2) Keep a tall, straight spine during both the descent and ascent.
3) Think about driving the backs of your legs into the pad.
These slight variations will give you a hamstring focus rather than a glute-focused back extension.
While some personal trainers like the back extension for hamstrings, others argue that the back extension for glutes is overall better for you. Here’s why:
- Hamstring back extensions do not promote the best way to bend over:
Typically, when we bend over to pick something up, we can take the pressure off of our lower back by pushing our butt back and hinging at the hips. This is called a hinge motion, and it's used in tons of exercises, such as RDLs and loaded squats.
Folding at the waist while maintaining a flat back doesn’t exactly replicate a movement you’d want to do if you drop something and need to pick it up.
- Hamstring back extensions make it too easy to over-arch your back:
As we learned about back extensions for glutes, when you keep your abs engaged and back rounded, this really helps you maintain a proper form throughout the entire exercise.
In a hamstring-focused back extension on the other hand–the flat-backed position makes it super easy to over-arch your back, which could come back to bite you when your lower back starts aching.
Variations of Back Extensions for Glutes
Once you master regular back extensions for glutes, you can take it up a level by adding a few variations:
Variation #1: Add Weight to Your Back Extensions for Glutes
Once you get the hang of back extensions for glutes, you can continue growing your glutes by adding weight to the movement.
All you have to do is:
1) Select a weight plate with a desired amount of weight that works for you.
2) Cross your arms around that weight.
Variation #2: Single-Leg Back Extensions for Glutes
As with most muscles in the body, you can work on increasing strength when you isolate one side at a time. This automatically weeds out any strength discrepancies between sides, and it can be a great level-up for regular back extensions for glutes.
To do single-leg back extensions for glutes:
1) Bend one leg at the knee to lift it up in the air–placing all of the focus on the opposite glute.
2) Perform the exercise as usual–but with one leg up in the air.
3) Then, repeat on the opposite side.
Variation #3: Reverse Hyperextension
This variation is super helpful if you have lower back pain. It is less of a glute-focused back extension, and it focuses pretty equally on your:
- Spinal Erectors
Here’s how you do it:
1) To do this exercise, you can use a hyperextension machine, glute-ham raise developer, a flat bench, a medicine ball–or even a table, bed, or countertop if you’re at home.
You’ll see us use a table in the video below, but if you use a hyperextension machine, you’ll actually face it in the opposite direction, using the ankle pads to support your arms.
2) Lay down on your selected surface in a prone (face-down) position, allowing your legs to hang off.
3) Drive your heels up to the ceiling.
4) Pause briefly at the top of the motion, pinching your glutes together and squeezing them. Rather than letting momentum take over, keep your movements slow and controlled.
5) Then, allow the legs to fall back down.
6) Repeat 15-20 reps for 2-3 sets.
Check out our video on how to perform this exercise below:
Our Best Glute Resources
We respect your dedication to your glutes.
They’re super important to lower back health.
And they get great aesthetic results when you work them out!
That’s why we’ve created TONS of other resources on how to work out and massage your glute muscles. It’s our mission to help you on your journey to a healthy body and lower back, which is not a fun path to walk alone.
Glute Strengthening & Stretching
For more glute exercise tips, check out these articles:
Or for some other helpful videos, I recommend these:
Best Exercises For Gluteus Medius & Minimus (TOP 4)
Glute Activation Exercises From Beginner To Advanced [Ranked]
Can Glute Muscles Contribute to Lower Back Pain?
Absolutely! When not strengthened or stretched, glute muscles can be a huge culprit for lower back pain!
If you’re suspicious that your glute muscles might be adding some grief to your lower back, check these out:
Gluteus Medius Massage – A Secret To Lower Back Relief
The Best Glute Massage
The perfect pairing for your new glute workout? A glute massage.
When combined together, strengthening, stretching, and massage make our muscles stronger, happier, and pain-free.
Your glutes are working hard in your back extensions for glutes. Let’s reward them with the best glute massage device: the QL Claw.
This at-home massage device can hit your glutes any time.
- Before you sit all day at work.
- AFTER you sit all day at work.
- After the gym–or even AT the gym.
This bad boy is small enough to fit in your gym bag, so you can bring it with you wherever you go.
It’s the only at-home massage device on the market that can hit muscles in your:
- Lower back
All in one device.
Shop for the QL Claw by clicking below:
Back Extensions for Glutes FAQs
Do back extensions work glutes?
You can really target your glutes when you round your back and engage your abs during the regular back extension motion.
How do I make my back extensions more glute-focused?
You can make back extensions more glute-focused if you: 1) point out your toes, 2) engage your abs, and 3) round your back
What angle for back extension for glutes?
I recommend the 45-degree back extension machine because it promotes better range of motion and less over-arching of the back.
What is the difference between a glute extension and a back extension?
In a regular back extension, you keep the toes pointed forward, and you keep a straight, flat back throughout the motion. For a glute-biased back extension, point your toes out, and round your back by engaging your abs.
What is the 45 degree back extension good for?
The 45 degree back extension machine is great for working the glutes, hamstrings, and spinal erectors.
Are back extensions good or bad for you?
Glute-focused back extensions can really strengthen and work your glutes. People have differing views on hamstring-focused back extensions. Some say that this version is hard on your back.
 Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.
 Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.