11 Best Back Extension Alternative Exercises To Build A Stronger Lower Back

Back extension exercises can help you build a stronger lower back and core. They also target muscles in your shoulders, hips, and butts. This guide will look at the best back extension alternative exercises which hardly require any equipment

woman doing the back extension alternative exercise

Back extensions are among the most effective for developing your spinal range of motion. Despite this, many people don’t do the extensions often, for one simple reason: equipment.

back extension exercise with machine

That’s right. While highly effective, back extensions require a back extension machine. And I was also looking for equipment-free back extension alternative exercises.

Luckily, I found these back extension alternatives to help strengthen your lower back. And I’m sharing them with you!

What Are Back Extensions?

Back extensions are lower back exercises that help strengthen the lower back muscles. They’re great for helping with lower back pain and building a strong core.

Key Benefits

  • Helps in building core strength.
  • Strengthens the lower back muscles.
  • Relieves lower back pain.
  • Helps develop balance and a good posture.

Muscles Worked

  • Erector spinae.
  • Multifidus.
  • Semispinalis.
  • Gluteus maximus.
  • Splenius muscle group.
  • Capitis muscle group.
  • Hamstrings.


It requires a back extension machine. But don’t worry if you don’t have one. If you are working out at home or setting up your home gym, then, you can try these back extension alternative exercises at home at home with little to no equipment.

Top 11 Back Extension Alternative Exercises to Strengthen Your Lower Back

You want to build your back muscles to help you develop a stronger core without taking a gym membership. You can achieve that goal in the confines of your home gym if you opt for the right exercises.

Below are some of the best back extension alternative exercises that can help you build a well-toned lower back with very few or no equipment.

Lying back Extension

woman doing the back extension alternative exercise

The lying back extension is an effective back extension alternative exercise without a machine. It is a floor-based bodyweight exercise that forces you to work against gravity.

Muscles worked: shoulders, lower back, butt, and hips.

Equipment Required: Exercise mat (not necessary, but recommended)

Level: beginner

Steps to Follow

  • You will need a clear space on the floor to do the exercise.
  • Lie on your tummy and stretch your legs behind you.
  • Plant your palms on the floor under your shoulders and move your shoulders down.
  • Lift the upper part of your body while pressing your hips into the floor or mat. Ensure you keep both your neck and head neutral. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • Slowly lower your upper body down to complete a set.
  • Repeat for 3 sets


person doing the superman back extension alternative exercise

The superman exercise involves lifting both your arms and legs at the same time. That can ve very challenging. It is one of the best back extension alternative exercises and requires no equipment.

Level: Easy

Equipment Required: Exercise mat (optional).

Steps to Follow

  • Lie on the floor on a soft carpet or exercise mat in the prone position. This is the position in which your face is facing down.
  • Extend your arms above your head with your palms facing toward the floor.
  • Now, exhale and raise your legs, head, and arms above the floor. Do this so that the only part of you touching the floor is your torso. It is important to ensure that your face is still looking toward the floor. Do not hyperextend your neck so that you’re looking up or in front.
  • Stay in this position for a few seconds, then inhale as you return to the starting position.

Kneeling Hip Extension

The kneeling hip extension is one of the best alternatives to back extension to engage the back and the hips.

Level: Intermediate.

Equipment Required: Exercise mat (optional).

Steps to Follow

  • Start by kneeling on the floor such that your thighs stay at a 90-degree angle to the floor or exercise mat.
  • Keep your arms crossed over your chest.
  • Now, when in the kneeling position, lean a bit forward by hinging at the hip joint. Keep bending downward until you can no longer keep your back straight.
  • Push yourself back up by pushing your hips forward and pulling yourself back into the starting position.
  • Some people who aren’t used to the exercise may require an anchor to keep their feet in place.

Resistance Band Deadlifts

The deadlift is a great back extension alternative at home that increases lower back and leg muscle strength. You can perform this exercise with a resistance band.

Level: Intermediate.

Equipment Required: Resistance band.

Steps to Follow

  • Place your feet at the very center of the resistance band slightly wider than the width of your shoulders.
  • Grab each end of the resistance band in one either hand and stand up straight. There should be resistance in the band at this point.
  • Now, hinge forward at your hips and let your arms hang at the front of your shins.
  • Squeeze your buttocks and stand upright slowly. Try to keep your arms and elbows as closely tucked into the body as possible.
  • Gradually lower yourself back down to the position in step 3.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Prone Back Extension Alternative Exercise

person doing the prone back extension alternative exercise

Lile the superman, the prone back extension requires no equipment.

Level: Beginner.

Steps to Follow

  • Start in the prone position with your stomach and face facing the floor. Keep your arms tucked back so that your palms are in line with your armpits. In other words, your palms should be at shoulder width.
  • Now, roll back your shoulders so that your shoulder blades are squeezing against each other.
  • Keep your glutes squeezed and raise your head, neck, and legs. Keep your palms in the same position as before.
  • Gradually lower yourself back to your starting position.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Seated Extension

man doing seated back extension alternative with a resistance band

Instead of standing, you will usually do the seated back extension alternative exercise while sitting on the floor. You can keep your legs stretched out fully in front of you or with your knees slightly bent. Choose which position makes you comfortable.

Required Equipment: Resistance band

Steps to follow

  • Sit on the floor or exercise mat.
  • Loop the resistance band around both feet and keep hold of the band with both hands
  • Stretch your legs out in front of you, keeping the band around your feet
  • Bend your elbows and try to keep your hands as close to your body as possible throughout the exercise
  • Slowly lean back as far as you can without letting go of the resistance band
  • Hold your position for about 2-3 sec. and slowly get back to the sitting position
  • Repeat ten times. Repeat the cycle three more times to complete a session


swimmers back extension alternative exercise

You can do the swimmers back extension alternative exercise in the comfort f your home to help you build a stronger lower back and core. You don’t any equipment for the exercise. Though you can lay on an exercise mat for comfort.

Level: Beginner.

Equipment Required: Exercise mat (optional).

Steps to Follow

  • Start in the prone position, that is, with your face and stomach facing down.
  • Lift the right hand from the ground along with the left leg as you exhale slowly.
  • Now, raise the head simultaneously with the left leg and right arm. Make sure that you’re still looking at the floor to keep your neck in a neutral position.
  • Slowly inhale and relax your body back into your starting position (the prone position).
  • Gradually exhale and repeat, but this time, start with your left hand and right leg raised.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Good Morning

good morning with dumbbells back extension alternative exercise

The Good Morning back extension alternative exercise is another good exercise that can help you build a stronger lower back. The exercise also targets the muscles in your hamstrings, upper back, abs, and glutes. Using dumbbells or a weighted barbell can help increase the load on your muscles for better results.

We recommend you start the Good mornings with a lighter weight, or no weight at all, if you are a beginner, or if your back is hurting

Equipment Required: Pair of Dumbbells of appropriate size.

Steps to Follow

  • Stand upright with a dumbbell of appropriate weight in each hand. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing the direction of your body
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width away from each other
  • Slightly bend your elbows and bring the dumbbells to rest on your shoulders
  • Embrace your upper back and abs and take in a good breathe
  • While exhaling, hinge forward at your hips by moving your hips backward and the upper part of your body forward until it is parallel to the floor
  • Inhale while returning to your starting position
  • Repeat 10 times for a set and 3 sets for a session

Reverse Hyperextensions

reverse hyperextensions

Reverse hyperextensions engage your glutes, lower back, and hamstrings. They must be performed on a special hyperextensions bench but can also be performed on any regular bench. You just need a place to secure your feet.

Level: Expert.

Equipment Required: Hyperextension bench or inclined weight bench.

Steps to Follow

  • First, lie down on an inclined bench or stability ball with your chest facing down. Make use of the arms to keep yourself steady on the bench or ball. In this position, your spine should be straight and in an incline, and your feet should fall below the hip line.
  • Now, lift the legs by engaging your buttocks so that the feet are level to your hips. Ensure that the legs remain straight during this time.
  • Gradually lower your legs back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Bird Dog

woman doing the bird dog back extension alternative exercise at home

The Bird Dog is a great alternative for a back extension since it focuses directly on the spinal erectors. It’s good for strengthening the lower back and doesn’t require any equipment.

Level: Intermediate

Steps to Follow

  • First, get down on the floor on all fours. Your palms should be flat on the ground and your knees touching the exercise mat or floor. Your shins should be parallel to the floor.
  • Next, lift your left hand and your right leg at the same time. Extend them outward and stay in this pose for a few seconds. Make sure that your back is straight and your neck is facing down, looking at the floor.
  • Lower your extremities and repeat with swapped limbs. So this time around, you’ll lift your right hand and your left leg off the floor.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.


bridge core exercises

The bridge is one of the best back extension alternatives that engage the glutes and the hamstrings.

Level: Beginner.

Steps to Follow

  • Lie down on the floor, or an exercise mat faces up, and your knees bent such that they form an angle of 90-degree. Keep your feet flat on the ground and your hips raised.
  • Gradually lower your hips so that they touch the floor and your knees are fully bent.
  • Push or thrust your hips up so that they are fully extended, and you’re back to your starting position.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.


What Are the Benefits of Back Extensions?

Back extensions are great for building back strength, especially in the lower back. They also help improve lower back pain resulting from leading a sedentary life as they target the relevant muscles.

What Is the Best Back Extension Alternative?

Perhaps the best back extension alternative is superman. It’s a straightforward exercise that anyone can perform. And the best part is that it doesn’t even require any equipment. You can do this independently, though an exercise mat or a soft carpet may be needed.

How Do You Do Back Extensions at Home Without a Machine?

There are several ways you can do back extensions at home without a machine. One of the best ways is to do the lying back extension. It’s a simple exercise that doesn’t require any level of expertise. And it requires minimal equipment.

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have a Back Extension Machine?

If you don’t have a back extension machine, don’t worry. You can do several back extension alternative exercises, such as the superman and the swimmers with just your body weight. You can also add some resistance using resistance bands.
Alternatively, you can opt for heavier equipment such as dumbbells and barbells. These equipment will help you target your back muscles more effectively.

  1. Deen JC. [JC Deen]. (2017). Back extensions: How to do the back extension with proper form [Video file]. youtube.com/watch?v=xIr3O7aT-cM&t=66s
  2. PeerJ: “Effects of Load on Good Morning Kinematics and EMG Activity”
  3. Supermans. (n.d.).
  4. Arney J. (2013). Moves that put the FUN into functional training.
  5. American Council on Exercise: “Whole Body Exercise Band Workout”
  6. Yaprak Y. (2013). The effects of back extension training on back muscle strength and spinal range of motion in young females.
  7. Bird Dog (n.d.) https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/exercise-library/14/bird-dog/

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