Barbell Back Extensions

Fortunately my gym has a new back extension machine suitable for shorter people.
I tried out barbell back extensions using straps, Pete Rubbish style .
Managed 60kg fairly comfortably for a few sets of 10.
Pete does at least 3 plates aside but he did deadlift 900lb. My mid back and glutes were quite sore for a few days. I tried 70kg the second time. They felt a bit heavy but I’m less sore.

Anyone have any experience with these or have reasons why different variations such as dumbbells are better? I would most grateful for feedback.

The most obvious benefit of a bar over dumbbells is the loading. So if you’re programming the lift heavy, bars are the way. Dumbbells are also a lot more unwieldy to get into position unless you set up a bench to take them off or have some other way to get into the starting position.

The bar is also obviously going to be more “sport-specific” than DBs, since your grip, arms, and upper back can exactly replicate your DL pulling position, while DBs allow a neutral/semi-neutral grip and rotation.

This talks more about different ways to load the movements, particularly with one DB: 150 Pound Back Extensions for Glutes & Hams - T NATION

I haven’t played too much with barbell back extensions. I usually prefer doing them for time, based on an old Wendler tip I saw a hundred years ago in an EliteFTS Q&A. Plates work really well for that since it’s not meant to go super-heavy.


For time that’s interesting. I remember doing unweighted reverse hypers for time. I got a lot of them at the time.
I am a little concerned about adding more weight to the barbell. I did not expect them to be as easy (wrong word) as they were. So other options are great.

To limit the load you could

use smaller plates for longer ROM

go 1 leg at a time

put the barbell across your shoulders

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I used to love that one legged back extension exercise. Thanks. I cannot place the bar on my shoulders due to shoulder issues . It wouldn’t be safe for me.

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I meant “for time” as in just holding the peak contraction for time, not doing max rep in a given time. I should’ve clarified that. So, just holding the top position of the extension, body in a straight line from neck to knees, for 60+ seconds.

I saw your recent 60kg back extension video in the related-stream on one of your other posted vids. It was 6 reps that got uglier with shorter ROM for the last couple of reps. More importantly, you’re not really doing them “Rubish-style” because you’re rowing the bar up and holding that contracted position keeping the bar near your chest.

That’s going to use a lot more grip and arm strength and shift stress to the upper back, delts, and traps. Try keeping the arms straight, just like an actual deadlift, which is what Rubish does. Or keep doing the way you’ve been, just know you’re targeting different muscles.

Thanks Chris. They improved a bit on the second session. The trainer at the gym watched them. I will take another video soon . I was already tired .
I don’t really need to target them the way I did . It just feels more natural. It is more lower back that I am looking for. My upper back is ok , it is the lower back which is weak.So Rubbish style it will be.

It is difficult not to capture people in the background.
The 70kgs were ugly like this but the 60kgs were better on the second session.

Would you suggest training these in the same workout as your back, or as your legs?

I think you would have to play it by ear. They feel almost like doing a mixture of a squat and a deadlift. Hits the glutes hard with angle I’m using .
You could use it on both, if you varied the loading.

Just did another session with 60kg. My back felt recovered enough. Rubish style is way easier .My form was good up rep 7 . It hits mainly the lower back too. The way I was doing it hits the delts too hard.
I would post another video but my Vimeo free account has its weekly bandwidth lol.

Tried 80kg rubish style I could do a few good reps but it felt very heavy . Gave up after 5 reps. I couldn’t safely add more weight yet.

Thank you for your assistance Chris.

I do front squats twice per week Mon and Thursday.
I want to add core assistance exercises especially the barbell back extension. I find I am always too tired to do it on squat is days .

Any suggestions on when to include. For point of reference I am 42 years old and natural .

Any hints please.

Dude, address why you are always so tired in your training and you will go far.

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