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All About Back Extensions

By October 18, 2014October 20th, 2016Glute Training, Glutes

Here’s an extensive video on back extensions. In this video, I discuss:

  • Proper set up
  • How to target the erectors (if that’s the goal)
  • Ways to increase glute activation (and feel it less in the back)
  • How to modify if the back of the knees are hurting
  • Cues
  • Progressions (prisoner, single leg, dumbbell, band, chain, band plus chain)
  • A simple protocol for glute building

I would like my readers to experiment with a new protocol I’ve been using on myself and with my clients. Although I can do 30 reps with the 100-lb dumbbell, lately I’ve been sticking to just bodyweight. I focus on trying to target the glutes, and I make sure I use the glutes eccentrically while getting a full stretch at the bottom. I perform 3 sets of 20-30 reps (I’ve done 3 x 20, 3 x 25, and 1 x 30/1 x 25/1 x 20, but I haven’t yet done 3 x 30 – my clients can do this though) with only 45 seconds of rest in between sets. Holy glute burn! My clients love this as a finisher. It’s a very efficient way to increase metabolic stress and time under tension for the glutes at the end of the workout without imposing a penalty to the CNS and impairing recovery. So give this simple protocol a try and see what you think:

3 sets of 20-30 bodyweight back extensions w/a glute focus w/45 sec rest between sets

Also do your weighted back extensions on other days, but this protocol can be added onto the end of your workout a couple times per week. I hope you enjoy the video!

Back Ext

The band back extension is very challenging and is only suitable for more advanced lifters


  • Charles Nankin says:

    fantastic. HT, back ext and QHE the glute trinity.

    i will look for similar tutorial on the QHE – I tried on a smith machine but felt it mostly in my quads (i figure because theres no rotation?). then i got in a leg ext machine – doing hip extensions! – thats my go-to at the moment as I dont have a pendulum machine.

  • Nancy Anne Martin says:

    “An extensive video on back extensions”- Made me grin. 🙂

    Thank you for explaining how to target the erectors.

  • Andrew says:

    Hey Bret,

    Great info as usual. Just wondering if you’ve any idea of what your your vertical leap might be.. I think I’ve asked you this before and you mentioned you don’t do any plyo stuff or train specifically for it. I still think you’d have to have a decent vertical with gluteus that can fire so powerfully.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on vertical jump. I’m built with a long torso and a long femeur making me a bit mechanically disadvantaged I think for most lifts and explosive jumping


  • How wild, I read the text portion first and was going to send a note mentioning that I have told my clients that everyone else calls these back extensions but that we need to start calling them ‘hip extensions’ so it was great to hear you start out your video that way! We do these at least twice a week and I have all my gals who are competing hold a 60-pd dumbbell. I’ve just signed up for your newsletter and really enjoy all your stuff. I’ve been training for 32 years and follow so much of what you propose already. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with others.

    Rosemarie Ferrara
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  • Riyadh says:

    What about the 90 degree back extension machine? Does the same rules apply?

  • Eden says:

    I’m so glad for this post! I have been trying to hold my feet completely vertical and with a lot of concentration, I can take my back out of the equation, but I feel it more in my calves! And even though I try to press in through my glutes, I just don’t feel it there. Sometimes my hamstrings, but not glutes. I can’t wait to get to the gym and try the flared feet position and see what that does. The machine at our gym is a bit different in that it doesn’t have those black roll things that go behind your lower legs – it just has a lip on the bottom that you have to hook your heels under. Another thing I’m never sure of is another aspect of foot position – should you be flexing your foot, slightly pointing or in neutral? In the video, it looks like neutral, but I always seem to slightly flex my foot.

  • Ania says:

    Thanks for the great post. Details make a huge difference. I have started your strong curves program a liitle more then a month ago and i am allready hipthrusting 200 lb, deadlifting 110 and squating (box squat) only 90 for the moment _(i am not very flexible and use to the movement yet ). But i made my huge break ONLY when i started using the proper cushioning on my hip thrusts (before i only use towell, now i use enrolled yoga mat) and wrist straps for deadlifting (i have a very weak wrists). In one session i went 50 lb more on hipthrists and 20 lb more and 2 more reps per set on deadlifts!! Huge difference, only details 😀

  • Charles Nankin says:

    i used your tip to keep your head fwd for the Hip Thrust – but I used it on the ADL, all the way down, I think in an effort to induce the fwd pelvic tilt. well, its a breakthru for me as I have not been able to do RDL or deadlift without discomfort. this feels much healthier! i might be a slightly different case as I broke L2 many years ago and had titanium for a year. but it worked for me. THANKS!

  • Cameron says:

    Hey Brett, I know this is a little late but:
    Do you ever do or recommend barbell back extensions?
    I find them much more difficult.
    You completely changed the way I look at back extensions a few years ago and I’ve made use of them using mostly DBs and BW (I’ve hit 100lbs with DBs) but I’ve only experimented with a barbell maybe 3-4 times. It feels awkward and the ROM seems shorter. I haven’t really given them a fair shot, though.

    Do you think barbell back raises are worth doing regularly?

  • Hi there how can I do the back/glute exercise which is rounded over and dare I say humping the bench I have no bench at my new gym, Im in Saudi Arabia so will not have access to another qym, all ideas welcome Thank you

  • Annabelle says:

    Hi Bret, love you website.

    I’m a female hockey player and I’d like to build better glutes. I was doing hip thrust but I stopped because I got stronger and I don’t have any access to good padding at the gym to be able to do it with more weight.

    So I’m trying to find the best exercise possible to help me. Which one is the best to really target the glutes ?

    I don’t any ”glute machines” at my gym (yeah I know it’s really basic).


  • Dan says:

    This video is epic. Love the explanations regarding “levers” which explains the physics involved in the movement. Every one of Bret’s articles are very technical (which I personally like). This helps me visualize how to do the movement (i.e. cues). Great work Bret, appreciate you sharing your knowledge! I wish I knew about you years ago.

  • Sheila says:

    Does the sumo stance hit glutes better ?
    Also when doing single leg back extensions, my left hamstring takes over instead of my left glute. How can I fix this ?!

  • I am using the machine to strengthen my back vs hamstrings as they are lacking; the machine in my gym does not have an adjustable lower pad to help with the pressure I feel on the back of my knees. Any recommendations?

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