You should be doing Reverse Hypers if you want to take your lifting to the next level. Become more athletic, blow up your Squat and Deadlift, add mass to your ass, decompress your spine, aid with recovery — all of these wonderful things, and more, will happen if you start programming Reverse Hypers into your workouts.
No matter whether you’re a bodybuilder, powerlifter, strength athlete, athlete of any trade, or just a casual lifter, you can all benefit from doing the Reverse Hyper (Reverse Hyperextension).
What Does the Reverse Hyper Target?
The Reverse Hyper targets the entire posterior chain: glutes and hamstrings, directly; spinal erectors and calves, indirectly.
The strength curve of this exercise is exaggerated near peak contraction, meaning that the further along the movement you get, the harder it becomes.
Traditionally reserved as a workout finisher, the Reverse Hyper is best used for slightly hyper rep ranges — anywhere between 8-20 reps as the goal isn’t to lift as much weight as possible, but to get decent reps at a steady tempo.
The only problem with this exercise is that many gyms don’t have the right equipment, so you may need to use your imagination when it comes to setting up the exercise.
1. Spinal Decompression/Reducing Back Pain
Far too few lifters take spinal decompression seriously, but repeated spinal loading without decompression work or mobility work at a minimum can cut your lifting career short.
Imagine training week in, week out, loading up several plates a side for your Deadlifts, Squats, Barbell Rows, and Overhead Presses without doing any work to counteract that downward pressure… it could be a recipe for disaster.
And I know some people might skip over doing these exercises because they’re boring or they feel like a waste of time.
Now, there’s no excuse to avoid decompression work as you will feel like you are doing something.
As we mentioned in our article on Spinal Decompression:
Another very effective spinal decompression exercise is the reverse hyper. You’ll need a reverse hyper machine to perform it, however.
Louie Simmons, the famous father of Westside Barbell, fractured one of his lumbar vertebrae as a young man and was told he would never lift again. Of course Louie being Louie, he had other ideas, and through a programme of rehabilitation that included using reverse hypers, he was able to get back to lifting absurd poundages – something he continues to do to this day.
Spinal decompression tool and potent posterior chain builder
If you don’t have access to a reverse hyper machine, there is a spinal decompression bodyweight alternative that you can try.
Bodyweight version of spinal decompression exercise
Whichever of these exercises you choose to do, we recommend you perform them after every session that includes heavy spinal loading, so especially after deadlifts and squats. Even a small amount of spinal decompression training will help you protect your spine and bulletproof it against injury.
Remember: you want to be in this for the long run.
2. It Will Blow Up Your Squat, Deadlift, and Athleticism, While Protecting You From Injury
The Reverse Hyper absolutely hammers your entire posterior chain — which is necessary for success in the Squat, Deadlift, Olympic Lifts, Sprinting and more.
Many athletes have overdeveloped quads from placing emphasis on the Squat, thus leaving their hamstrings prone to pulls and tears.
The Reverse Hyper will help bring lagging hamstrings up to speed.
Louie Simmons, mentioned above, credits this exercise for his ability to deadlift 661lb (300kg) in his 60s, stating that he wouldn’t have been able to do so without it.
And, again, not all that much weight is needed to pull off this exercise, which means that it can be used as a tool to encourage recovery by increasing blood flow to the posterior chain after strenuous training, plus it is gentler on the central nervous system (CNS) than its conventional Hyperextension counterpart.
3. Anyone can do it.
That’s right — anyone able-bodied can do it.
Whether you’re an octogenarian, a scrawny 110lb teen, a pro-athlete, the Reverse Hyper is for you.
It is far more effective than a simple Machine Leg Curl, plus it boasts the added benefit of spinal decompression.
Additionally, this exercise is kind on the CNS, joints, and back which are all bonuses.
You can easily find a place of them at the end of your leg day or Deadlift/Squat day.
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