The glutes, which make up your buttocks, contain some of the largest muscles in the body. Work this area to get a rounded, firm backside that looks good in tight jeans or yoga pants. Plus, strong glutes improve your total lower body function, keeping you safe from injury if you're an athlete.
If you stepped foot into a gym, you would most likely see men and women doing exercises like squats, lunges and step-ups to work their glutes, which consist of three parts known as the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. A reverse hyperextension is a less common exercise, but still effective -- provided you do it correctly.
Function of the Glutes
Every muscle in the body has a designated function. The primary function of the glutes is to produce a motion called hip extension. This takes place when you move your thigh backward. The reverse hyperextension involves this motion, which makes it an effective exercise for working the glutes.
Use a specialized bench to perform the reverse hyperextension. It features an elevated, stationary padded support and two hand pegs to grasp for balance and upper body stability.
The reverse hyperextension is actually a variation of another exercise called a back extension. A back extension machine is set up so that your feet are placed firmly on a platform and your hips are pressed against a padded support. This allows your upper body to bend instead of your lower body.
Proper technique is very important with the reverse hyperextension. This is the case any time your spine is a major player in an exercise. Begin by lying face-down on the padded support with your hands on the pegs and hips just past the edge of the support. Your legs should be hanging straight down at this point and your body is bent in half. Keeping your upper body down tight on the support, raise your legs in the air as high as you can and squeeze your glutes for a full second. Slowly lower your legs back down and repeat.
You get benefit from using just your body weight during the reverse hyperextension, but as you progress you have the option of adding resistance. Either strap ankle weights to your lower legs, pinch a dumbbell between your feet or hold a medicine ball between your lower legs. Before you add any resistance, make sure you master your form.
If you do not have access to a reverse hyperextension machine, use a stability ball instead. This variation takes a little bit more balance.
How To: Begin in a face-down position on the ball with your hands on the floor and legs together behind your body. Keeping your upper body as still as possible, raise your legs in the air and hold for a second. Slowly lower your legs and repeat. If you have a hard time keeping your upper body still, have a training partner face you and grab her ankles for support.
Other Muscles Targeted
The glutes get the most activation during the reverse hyperextension, but other muscles get targeted as well. These include the hamstrings, erector spinae, rectus abdominis and obliques. The hamstrings sit on the back of the thighs, the erector spinae run down the spinal column, the rectus abdominis is in the middle of the stomach and the obliques sit on the sides of the stomach.