This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body, which was voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.
This exercise isolates and strengthens the often-neglected lower back muscles.
Lie face downward on the back extension machine. Your feet should be flat on the footrests and the leg rolls should brace the middle of your calves. Hold yourself flat so that your back is in a straight line with your legs. Place your hands on top of your head, with your elbows out to the sides (see Photo 1).
- From the starting position, bend at the hips and lower your upper body toward the floor. Continue to lower yourself until your body is almost at a 90-degree angle (see Photo 2).
- Raise yourself slowly back to the starting position. Your hips should remain in contact with the bench at all times. Do not arch your back at the top of the movement (see Photo 3).
- Repeat the exercise for a total of 12 repetitions.
This exercise can be made easier or more difficult. For a less-challenging version, cross your arms over your chest with each hand on the opposite shoulder. For a more difficult version, hold a weight plate against your chest, with arms firmly crossed over it to prevent it from slipping.
About Billy Polson: Billy Polson is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body, which was voted the best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. A competitive swimmer and triathlete in his own right, Polson has over 15 years of experience working as a coach and trainer, and was recently named by Men's Journal Magazine (December 2005) as one of the Top 100 Trainers in America.