ON THE BENEFITS OF SUBORDINATE EXERCISES
BOTH IN REGARDS TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE BODY AS WELL AS THE WELL-BEING OF THE MIND
BY DONNY SHANKLE CPT
“Familiarity Breeds Contempt.” Anonymous
You will find no better piece of equipment in a gym than a reverse hyper machine. Reverse hyperextensions are a great dual purpose exercise. The exercises most significant use comes in the therapeutic eccentric phase. At the end of the eccentric phase the spine decompresses allowing the discs in the lower back (L1-L5) to stretch increasing blood and spinal fluid circulation. The closer a weightlifter gets to competition the more important it becomes to train a tight back arch and keeping the back healthy is critical. Aside from being a fantastic physical therapy exercise, reverse hypers also enable you to powerfully contract the muscles of the lower back, hamstrings, and glutes at the top of the concentric phase. Since your hips act as a sort of pivot during the movement and you legs resemble a pendulum, the exercise allows you to move pretty heavy weight with little wear and tear on your body as you use momentum to your advantage. The exercise is great for strengthening the muscles used when pulling a barbell off the floor and should be trained often for its therapeutic benefits.
END OF ECCENTRIC
When looking for a good reverse hyper machine try and find one that allows your legs to swing freely during the eccentric portion of the exercise. The best I have seen are sold by Louie Simmons at West Side Barbell who I had the privilege of visiting a few years ago with Glenn. To set up for the exercise grab hold of the handles in front the machine and place the backs of your ankles in the strap hooked to the bottom of the pendulum. Jump up slightly and place your lower abdominals on the board which supports your body leaving your hips hanging off the edge so your legs can swing through a long range of motion.
END OF CONCENTRIC
Using a little momentum initially to get the weight moving, gradually begin to bring your legs up (keeping them perfectly straight) until they are parallel with the floor. This is the end of the concentric phase. From here relax and use a little resistance to slowly lower your legs back down. Take full advantage of the machines range of motion and at the end of the eccentric phase feel your lower back stretch and decompress. Do not come to a complete stop at the bottom, instead, use the momentum that initially started the movement to smoothly lift the weight back to the top and pause momentarily to feel the muscles contract. The prime movers during this exercise are the glutes, hamstrings, and spinal erectors. The machine stabilizes you throughout but your abdominals also act as stabilization muscles. On as side note, I also find the exercise great for strengthening your abdominals. The exercise may at first be uncomfortable to some as the board pushes against your stomach. As you keep practicing though your abs will strengthen and this becomes less of a problem for most people.
ADVANCED WAY: I have seen some athletes employ the use of resistance bands along with weights. Doing so makes moving through the concentric phase very difficult and intensifies the contraction of the muscles at the top.
DURATION: 10-20 minutes
PLACEMENT IN TRAINING: Occasionally both as a warm-up before lifting and as a cool down exercise done after lifting.