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A hyper extension bench is a piece of exercise equipment that allows an athlete to work the lower back muscles. It also provides some benefits for the abdominal muscles and the hamstrings. There are several types of hyper extension benches, but they all work in roughly the same way. They use some system of padded supports to secure the lower body so that an athlete must use the muscles of the lower back to pull the upper body out of a bent position.
A typical hyper extension bench will have some kind of large pad that the athlete lies on with his or her face toward the floor. This pad is just big enough to provide support to the lower hips and groin, and it usually is a few feet off the floor. A padded bar aligns with the athlete's leg just below the knee. Farther back, there is a third pad that, when the athlete is properly positioned in the hyper extension bench, will rest against the athlete's Achilles tendons. Under the hip pad, there also usually is a set of handles than the athlete can use to get in and out of the hyper extension bench more easily.
When an athlete is properly seated in the hyper extension bench, the padded portions will lock the lower body into an immobile position. It is important that the athlete ensure that all of the pads align with his or her body correctly to avoid putting pressure on weaker parts of the body, such as the knee. Once in the correct position, the athlete bends his or her arms across the chest and bends at the waist in order to lower the chest toward the floor. From this position, he or she uses the lower back muscles to raise the upper body away from the floor and should continue to do this throughout the full range of motion of the back. The athlete can then lower his or her torso to its original position and repeat the exercise.
It is very easy for an athlete to increase the intensity of workouts on a hyper extension bench. An athlete can increase the resistance of the exercise by simply hugging some weights to the chest while using the bench. Also, there are variations of hyper extension benches that will change the position of the legs. They will always remain locked in place, but by changing how high the feet are in relation to the hips, the leverage that the athlete has when performing the exercise will be changed. This, in turn, affects the intensity of the workout.