Equipment for doing serious (weighted) back extensions at home?
July 26, 2009 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Equipment for doing serious (weighted) back extensions at home?

When I was in graduate school, I worked out at the school's gym. After that, I got out of the habit. I'd like to get back into it. For reasons I won't go into here, I can't go to a public gym. So I'm looking to get a piece of equipment or two (weight bench, etc.) for home and start up again.

With a basic bench and free weights and maybe pull-up bar, etc, I could do the basics. But a couple of the exercises that I remember loving seem problematic. I really loved doing weighted back extensions on a real back extension bench, both the extra weight and the decent range of motion compared to lying on the floor and lifting your head/legs up (thpppffft). Any way to get that at home without special equipment? Or maybe a good piece of equipment that would give me this plus other exercises? I haven't bought anything yet (not even a basic weight bench), so recommendations would be great. Bonus if I could do seated rows too, but I'm not holding out for that.
posted by madmethods to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
Perhaps an exercise ball, perhaps while holding a weight to your chest?
posted by jgunsch at 2:22 PM on July 26, 2009

Have you checked Craigslist? You never know what might be available.

It's not quite the same, but I always enjoyed doing weighted crunches with a 45-pound plate: either held across my chest or extended at arm's length into the air as you sit up. You can get a lot done with a single 45-pound plate: bending over at the waist and standing up as you hold it, bent-over rowing, abdominal twists, pinch grip farmer's carry, pumping it overhead, etc.
posted by aquafortis at 3:07 PM on July 26, 2009

I have one of these and it's great. You can do some serious ab work on it too - and the handles will allow dips but it's a pretty narrow space between them...

Got a studbar for pullups and some rings from the the garage gym too.
posted by JV at 3:59 PM on July 26, 2009

I use this: WeightVest.

It goes up to 100+ lbs, and there are several advantages. One, is graduated weight - you can add in 2.5lb increments. Second, is distribution - front, back, lower, higher etc. Third, it frees your hands and arms. Fourth, versatility: you can do cardio in this (which is my primary use, I hike uphill in this), but you can also do your dips and stuff, work on abs or whatever. A bit pricey, but useful.
posted by VikingSword at 5:14 PM on July 26, 2009

Assuming you have a barbell and plates, just do good mornings.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:53 PM on July 26, 2009

Good idea about the weighted vest, with one caveat: make sure you invest in quality rather than trying to get it cheap. I bought a 50 pound vest on e-bay that was completely unwearable.
posted by aquafortis at 8:22 PM on July 26, 2009

If you're near a rural area, you might be able to find a place that will give you a used tractor tire for free. You could use that for tire flips, sledgehammer swings (hit the tire), box jumps, and if you hook your feet inside and sit on the tire, back extensions and GHD situps. For 0 dollars. Takes up a bit of space, but doesn't need to be kept indoors.
posted by ctmf at 9:55 PM on July 26, 2009

Glute-ham raises may be a viable alternative to doing weighted back extensions at home, as for rows you can just do sternum chins
posted by zentrification at 10:48 PM on July 26, 2009

I use my power rack (something like this) and a bench to do back extensions by raising the bench and using one of the safety catches to hold my ankles. I got my rack on craigslist for $200. It is the best piece of strength equipment I have purchased. I use it for squats, benches, rack pulls, pullups, back extensions, sit ups, dips, etc.

Without a rack, your squat/good morning, etc. will always be limited to what you can clean.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 11:11 AM on July 27, 2009

Hmm...good points, Barry. I'll need a rack and a bench regardless. I'll get those and see if I can come up with a satisfactory configuration to do the exercises I want to do, and then if not maybe escalate (e.g. getting a real back extension bench, etc.).
posted by madmethods at 6:25 PM on July 31, 2009

Without a rack, your squat/good morning, etc. will always be limited to what you can clean.

You definitely want to have a rack. But if you're trying to do good mornings with more than you can clean, something is very wrong.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:39 PM on July 31, 2009

But if you're trying to do good mornings with more than you can clean, something is very wrong.

Naw, heavy good mornings have been a staple of powerlifting training. Westside style training used them extensively, although they seem to have fallen out of favor. It's not my thing, but some lifters do go heavy on them. In fact, the last movement of my training partner's squat looks pretty much like that first youtube vid's good morning (and he's squatting around 405). ;)
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 10:34 PM on July 31, 2009

Well, I can't load that video at the moment, but a 400 lb. goodmorning seems pretty goofy to me. And to Mark Rippetoe, who writes on pg. 247 of Starting Strength:
The goodmorning is an assistance exercise, not a primary lift... The smartest of the strongest men in the world never use more than 225 lbs. for the goodmorning, and since it is just an assistance exercise, they use sets of 8 to 10 reps. ... There will never be a reason to use more than 35% of your squat for sets of 8-10, and there is no reason to do them at all until 35% of your squat is 95 lbs.
And if your squat looks like a goodmorning I'd also say that something is very wrong. But I digress.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:57 PM on July 31, 2009

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