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- Best machine with a 700 pound (lb) swing arm capacity: Rogue Z Hyper
- Best machine that includes resistance bands: Titan Fitness H-PND
- Best with an adjustable tilt and plate: Westside Dual Pendulum Reverse Hyper
- Best with an upgradeable weight stack: Legend Fitness Performance Series 976
- Best lightweight, portable option: Westside Scout Hyper
A reverse hyperextension machine, also known as an RH machine or a reverse hyper, is an exercise machine that provides spinal decompression and strengthening of the posterior chain muscles — erector spinae, hamstrings, and glutes.
Louie Simmons, a renowned American powerlifter and now a strength coach, developed the machine.
How to use
An individual lays flat on their stomach on the machine’s tabletop, holds the handles, and rests their hips at the edge to allow the lower body to move freely. With legs inside the loops or foot bars connected to the weights, an individual flexes their muscles to lift the legs while keeping the upper body immobile.
After reaching a level just below or at the hip level, a person swings down their lower body gradually, causing the spine to stretch.
A reverse hyperextension machine aims to provide traction and decompression to the lower spine while strengthening a person’s back, hamstrings, and glutes. Aside from their rehabilitation benefits, individuals may also use a reverse hyper for strengthening and training.
A reverse hyper machine could help a person achieve their fitness or recovery goals in various ways.
Excellent secondary exercise
The reverse hyper allows an individual to continue training after doing primary exercises, such as squats and deadlifts. These enable people to work out the posterior chain with lower intensities and more reps to build their strength, stability, and endurance.
A 2021 study found reverse hyperextension exercises provide a more intense posterior chain workout than the more traditional hyperextension exercises.
Better resilience from injury
The equipmenttrains the hamstrings and glutes in a similar movement pattern to those utilized during high-impact lifting and other hip hinge movements. Using the equipment also requires a person to brace their core which will build core strength.
Both of these actions help prevent lower back injuries, improve posture, and promote proper body mechanics.
In addition, a 2020 study mentioned the importance of posterior chain exercises in CrossFit programs and recommended the use of reverse hyperextension machines.
Isolated glutes and hamstrings workout
While individuals can do a vast range of exercises to target their glutes and hamstrings, most of them, like hip thrusts, require a good grip.
A reverse hyper can directly target these hip extensor groups without the need for grip strength and spinal loading.
Reduced spinal load
Using a reverse hyper mimics a movement pattern similar to that experienced with deadlifts and pulls but without the spinal loading.
This makes the device useful for individuals or athletes with lower back conditions or injuries who may want to maintain their lower back health.
Reduce back pain
Weak lower back muscles, muscle tightness, or spasm usually cause back pain. A reverse hyper machine can alleviate pain by stretching a person’s structure while improving flexibility and strength.
Individuals may also benefit from the spinal decompression a reverse hyper provides.
When looking to purchase a reverse hyper machine, a person may wish to consider the following:
- Footprint: Individuals with limited space should consider the product’s dimensions and the overall space required to ensure a comfortable and safe workout.
- Durability: A person should look for quality equipment that can withstand wear and tear. Generally, machines with a lower gauge steel construction are more durable. Most also come with rubber feet to prevent the device from slipping and causing floor scratches.
- Portability: While a welded design offers more durability, devices with bolts are easier to move around. In addition, some reverse hyper machines fold, allowing for easy storage and transfer.
- Weight capacity: To ensure safety, an individual should check the machine’s maximum user weight capacity. People aiming to complete targeted resistance training should also consider the maximum swing arm capacity and the storage post’s loadable length.
- Adjustability: If the device is intended for several people, opting for a machine with adjustable features, such as an adjustable handle and leg support, should allow for different body types and capabilities.
- Low-impact: Unlike other strengthening equipment, a reverse hyper machine does not add load to the spine. A 2019 study stated that this equipment provides the same erector spinae muscle activity as hyperextension machines but with less stress to the lumbar spine.
- Addresses pain: A reverse hyper machine can decompress the spine, help pump fluid back into the intervertebral discs, and reduce pressure, which helps alleviate back pain.
- Strengthening: Training with a reverse hyper machine may help strengthen back muscles and reduce injury during training and lifting.
- Not versatile: Unlike free weights and other strength training equipment, an individual can only use reverse hyper machines for back muscles.
- Bulky: Aside from the large footprint, reverse hyper machines require space when used as the legs need to extend almost, if not fully, parallel to the floor.
Below, we look at some of the most popular reverse hyper machines.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.
All prices were correct at the time of publishing this article.
Rogue Z Hyper
Rogue Fitness is a Columbus, Ohio-based American distributor and manufacturer of gym equipment.
Rogue Z Hyper is a 3 x 3-inch (in) 11-gauge steel construction with handles that adjusted from 2 to 14 in from the pad’s edge. It also has a wide, thick pad that extends from the edge to ensure maximum comfort.
- Dimensions: 51.5 in x 43 in
- Weight: 323 lbs
- Loadable length: 10.5 in (700 lb swing arm capacity)
- Pros: Bolt-design allows for easier portability
- Cons: Roller attachment and base Cross member for elastic bands not included
This machine is available to purchase online for around $900.
Titan Fitness H-PND
Titan Fitness is one of the four Titan brands — a company that aims to provide quality products at an affordable price.
The H-PND is made of a high-quality steel frame with an 11-gauge steel tubing. Its handles adjust to 8 positions in 2-in increments.
- Dimensions: 52.25 x 41
- Weight: 250 lbs
- Loadable length: 10 in
- Pros: comes with a cross brace for resistance bands
- Cons: requires installation
This product carries a Proposition 65 Warning.
The H-PND is available to purchase online for around $650.
Westside Dual Pendulum Reverse Hyper
According to Rogue, strength athletes worldwide use this professional-grade reverse hyper machine.
Its padded tabletop tilts 15-degrees upward and downward, allowing a person to target either the back muscles, glutes, or hamstrings. It also has a split pendulum that enables an individual to train legs together or individually.
- Dimensions: 45 x 49 in
- Weight: 358 lbs
- Loadable length: not indicated
- Pros: 15-degree adjustable tilt, adjustable plate loading, single and dual pendulum setup with straps
- Cons: no provision for resistance bands
The Westside Dual Pendulum Reverse Hyper is available to purchase online for around $3,700.
Legend Fitness Performance Series Reverse Back Extension 976
Legend Fitness is a Tennessee-based manufacturer and distributor of fitness equipment since 1977.
Unlike other equipment, this device comes with a 200-lb weight stack in 10-lb increments. The machine offers constant tension in the swingarm, preventing momentum build-up. The swingarm is also constantly drawn forward, providing an individual with a continuous stretch.
- Dimensions: 50 x 34.75 in
- Weight: 582 lbs
- Loadable length: not applicable
- Pros: upgradable weight stack, adjustable leg roller, more range of motion
- Cons: bulky, more moving components
Prices for this machine are available upon request only.
Westside Scout Hyper
The Westside Scout Hyper model is foldable, lightweight, and mobile. It has hinging legs that lock using pop-pins. The unit is only 13 in when folded, making it ideal for small spaces.
- Dimensions: 38 x 32 lbs
- Weight: 86 lbs
- Loadable length: 5.25 in
- Pros: lightweight, portable, add-on
- Cons: requires assembly
This machine is available to purchase online for around $400.
Reverse hyperextension machines provide a combination of strengthening, stretching, and decompression, offering individuals a targeted posterior chain workout without spinal loading. This may also offer a reasonable solution to alleviating back pain.