100-Rep Back Extension Challenge

Ladies, I’ve got a new challenge for you (okay, men can do this challenge as well)! Over the course of the next month, I want you to be able to perform 100 non-stop bodyweight back extensions.

Like my other challenges, this isn’t for complete beginners, so make sure you have some training experience. This isn’t meant to replace your normal training program; it’s just a supplement. If your normal workout includes back extensions, take them out since you’ll be performing 12 sessions of them with bodyweight this month.

The first day should be fairly easy…most folks can achieve 20-back extensions pretty easily.

Jaco-De-Bruyn

“Ladies, I want you to pump up your glutes!”

If one of the challenge days falls on one of your normal training days, then perform the challenge after your normal training session.

See the schedule below. You’ll note that there are three challenge days per week for the first three weeks, two on the fourth week, with the fifth week being the 100 rep challenge. The frequency of challenge days per week decreases as the number of reps per set goes up.

If you find it difficult to maintain the pace of the challenge, ease up slightly on the volume of your normal lower body training as the month progresses, and possibly perform the challenge first if it falls on normal training days.

Here are the rules:

  1. Descend purely at the hips
  2. Get a stretch in the hamstrings
  3. Keep the lumbar spine in neutral
  4. Power the torso up with the glutes and hamstrings
  5. Finish with a strong glute contraction
  6. Think of pushing the hips forcefully into the bench
  7. Posterior pelvic tilting is acceptable
  8. The upper back can round
  9. Use full hip-extension – no partials

As far as cadence is concerned, you want to be performing the back extensions explosively, but don’t rush. No resting in between reps though – you will perform the entire set in a continuous fashion.

If a challenge day lines up with an upper body training day, still do the challenge at the end of your workout, just make sure you do a few lower body drills to warm up beforehand, including a warm-up set of 10 bodyweight back extensions. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

get glutes back ext challenge

Most ladies (and men) can easily reach a point where they can perform 100 non-stop back extensions. In fact, I’ve trained approximately 50 different women who could achieve this task after they’d trained with me for a couple of months. However, we were sure to performed back extensions regularly. Here’s a video to help you with form:

Remember, although this is a challenge, don’t be foolish and train through pain. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t complete the challenge And if you’re currently performing Strong Curves or Get Glutes, just stick with the plan!

45 Comments

  • Austelle says:

    It’s on!

  • Love the new challenge, Bret! I just started incorporating back extensions into my own programming, and I’m enjoying the results.

    Can you comment on neck position? In the video, you appear to be looking at the floor the whole time, which leads to a bit of cervical flexion at the top. Could that become an issue, especially with higher rep sets performed at that fast cadence?

    • Bret says:

      Travis, you can keep the neck packed if you want (or just in neutral). In 16 yrs of personal training, I’ve never had any clients develop neck issues, and I’ve never been very strict with neck position. So take that for what it’s worth. But it never hurts to be more strict.

  • Kristi says:

    Am I the only one that gets incredibly dizzy doing these? I can’t imagine doing 100 without passing out. Haha

  • lucho says:

    Bret,

    do you know who is the model in the male photo you used?, and what is the physique contest?

    (I can read Nevada in the background)

  • Sue Wanner says:

    I love this exercise, but I don’t have a back extension bench. I can do them pretty well on a ball but doing them on off my bench really puts too much on my legs, they way I have to wrap my feet under the bench. Any other suggestions? I really might just buy one of those benches.

    • Bret says:

      I don’t like the ball much, but if they feel right to you then go for it. You can do them off of a sturdy table if you have a partner hold onto your legs. Would be tough for the spotter with a 100-rep set though haha!

  • Maria says:

    Great! I love back extensions so I’ll be starting today!
    Thanks Bret!

  • Jesus, Bret. It’s not a fucking BACK EXTENSION if the prime movers are glutes/hamstrings because you’re locking the low back.

    And how does working up to 100 straight reps address WEAKNESS?

    Or do you not understand the difference between strength and endurance?

    • Bret says:

      Lyle, I do this out of tradition. If I called it a “hip extension,” that doesn’t exactly narrow things down – there’s hip extension from the floor (prone), from all fours (quadruped), off a reverse hyper, off a GHD, off a 45 degree hyper, etc.

      I see your point – that this just elicits strength endurance and not maximal strength. But it’s just a month of high reps. After the month, they can use greater load. And I wouldn’t say this with all exercises, but the month of high rep back extensions often transfers to strength in moderate rep ranges. I’ve noticed the same thing with walking lunges (but not with upper body training). Lifters can spend a month building their strength endurance and come back stronger on their 10RM’s.

      • amc says:

        In addition to what Bret said, I think in Stu McGill’s book he mentions that trials have shown that greater protection against injury is obtained for the lower back when the muscle is trained for endurance rather than strength. Someone can double check that.

        • Joshua says:

          I believe I also have read that lower back endurance tends to be more protective against pain than lower back strength. If I recall correctly, I read this in one of Paul Ingraham’s works (saveyourself.ca). Anecdotally, I think my back always feels somewhat better after doing some moderate/high (12+) rep back extensions.
          Also, kudos to Bret for staying cool and professional when responding to rather hostile commentary there.

    • rocky says:

      Lyle,
      Your a an ass

  • Sky says:

    Yo Brett I have a hard time getting my glutes to fire. Will this build my butt or is it just a conditioning exercise and I should stick to hip thrusters?

  • Santi says:

    Would you advice to do it on a GHD machine? Would it still be a 100 reps, considering the GHD is somewhat harder.

  • Fotis says:

    Great! Just a question,will it be bad if I did 45 degrees back extensions instead?

  • Dhruv Bhagat says:

    Hi Bret,

    This seems pretty exciting 😉

    I am going to do my back exercise today and I usually do 4 sets consisting of 15 reps of back extension twice in a week..

    Well, today, I am gonna perform 3 sets of 30 reps. I am in for this challenge.. And I will make it large in a month for sure!

    (X) FINGERS CROSSED (X)

    WISH ME LUCK!

  • tony says:

    dont have access to the machine but would good mornings be a good replacement?

  • Denisha says:

    Hi Bret,

    I just started the Strong Curves program for beginners and I am hooked already. I purchased the book on my kindle and am wanting to know if you could send me some pdf sheets to track my workouts? Another question.. How much whey protein insolate would you recommend for a 210 5’5 female that works out 4-5 days a week?

    ps. the book is very well written and has a wealth of information!

  • jane says:

    Re the comment about this exercise and whether it targets strength rather than endurance… I’m simply a newbie lifter with no knowledge of biomechanics etc but in my experience doing more reps can indirectly lead to greater strength as I’ve found with squatting. I had a glute imbalance which needed addressing and with the correct supporting exercises plus more reps/lower weight on the squat I’ve improved my form, glute strength and ultimately this has led to greater strength in squatting. Therefore surely doing more reps of any exercise can lead to greater strength if used as a means to an end ? I may be wrong as I said, I’m just Joe Public and no expert !

    • Derrick Blanton says:

      I think you are on the money, Jane. I think it’s due to neural pathways getting grooved through volume and practice, ala Pavel’s “grease the groove” ideas.

      Sure you are going to eventually need to train the muscle/movement with more load, but when you do load up, the results are going to be better if you already have the CNS trained, coordinated, and ready.

      Light rep, volume training can help a lot with building these neural pathways.

      • Derrick Blanton says:

        er….light, high rep, volume training..:)

        • jane says:

          Thanks for that Derrick. As a non expert it’s made my day that what I said might actually not be total rubbish !! Can only go on my limited personal experience, but I’ve found those higher rep/lighter weight sets have helped me concentrate on form and I expect will ultimately really help my numbers increase weight wise. Hopefully anyway !! Regards.

  • Polina says:

    Hi Denisha,
    I’m not Bret’ but I saw your question and wanted to help, if I may:)
    First of all, why do you want to consume protein isolate? Sure it’s great anf fast-absorbing (low fat\low carb) protein source,, but if you can also get protein from other sources.You don’t necessarily have to buy Isolate, you can get your protein from :chiken breast, lean beef, cottage cheese, fidh, tuna. Every protein source I’ve mentioned here, contains approximately 25 gram of protein for 100 grams’ except fot cottage cheese. You should chek the amount on the tube.)
    I think you shouldn’t bother yourself with the question: how much Isolate?
    But rather with: How much overall protein to support my goals? wether it’s:maintain, fat loss’,muscle gain and.)
    http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/sculpt_rock_hard_abs/printer.php
    Chek this link, Alan Aragon talks about simle rules about how making smart dietn diet desicions/
    .His main advice about protein, is to consume 1 gram for evety lb of your GOal Weight, as simple as it sounds.
    So, if someoneweighs 180 and his goal is fat loss, and his desired weight is 150= that’s the amount of protein he will consume..

    Hope it helps,

    Polina

  • Alexandra Strauss says:

    Watched this video and paid attention to my form today…. what a difference!!! Remembering what you said about “pushing your hips into the bench” — my back doesn’t feel it at all anymore — and I had thought I was keeping a neutral back before. I’ve also wondered about feet placement/flare, and I felt a lot more comfortable with my feet flared a bit. Thank you for your amazing videos! This was so helpful!!

  • Pablo says:

    Don’t skip leg day 🙂 or rather, glutes and hamstrings… INCREDIBLE back, but, missing lower half.

  • Patrick O'Flaherty says:

    Bret,

    What equipment brand is your 45 degree hyper extension?

  • Hillary says:

    How do the two different hyper extension benches, target the lower body differently? I don’t know what each is called but I’m referring to the horizontal type vs the one you are using in your demo video. I’m wanting to buy one for home and am not sure which is best.

  • J says:

    I’ve noticed that the upper part of my glute max is well developed and muscular, but the lower part is non-existent. What do you suggest to correct this?

    • Jenny says:

      I have this same question. I know all the workouts go well together to form a firm and round glute, but I want to put more focus on the lower portion.

  • Kathy says:

    This might sound stupid but isn’t there a book you have out? Is it the link below? Looking to buy 🙂

  • Gregg says:

    I gave up at 70 because I was feeling it totally in my hamstrings instead of glutes.

    I’m shocked I made it to 70. I learned something here. I’m disappointed that I obviously have glute problems. Or so I think.

  • Steph says:

    Hi J.,

    I asked the same question of Bret and his advice was to add reverse lunges to develop the lower glutes.

  • Jesus Garcia says:

    Hi Bret, I just completed your challenge and did 100 reps! Here is the video. My ROM isn’t great but it still hurt like crazy!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG6Oi80_OoI

  • cmman says:

    Can i do it on the floor because i do not have a back extension machine?

  • Michele says:

    A member at our gym reported getting extremely dizzy after performing this exercise with a 45 lb. plate. I supervised his form to ensure that he wasn’t compressing his cervical spine by keeping his head neutral and coached him to breath properly. He still felt dizzy. Could it possibly be something to do with the peripheral arteries pressing against the pad?? I’m at a loss…

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