Invented by Louie Simmons, the reverse hyperextension machine was his answer to a severe back injury. The reverse hyper is used for strength training, prehab and rehab and is for everyone from elite athletes to recreational gym goers.

Reverse hypers are one of the best ways to develop your posterior chain muscles, such as your glutes and hamstrings. It requires a reverse hyper extension machine that isn’t common for home gyms, the good news is this exercise can be easily modified.

Here are my top 6 reverse hyperextension substitute exercises you can try today.

Even though reverse hyperextensions are brilliant for developing your posterior chain and preventing back injuries from occurring, it’s not always possible to perform the movement.

The list below gives you six of the best reverse hyperextension alternatives around and shows you how to perform them.

1. Box Reverse Hyperextensions

Box Reverse Hyperextensions

The box reverse hyper is one of the best bodyweight reverse hyper alternative exercises around. It allows you to be placed higher from the ground, increasing the range of motion your hamstrings and glutes are put through.

As you get greater movement during this alternative, it does increase your muscle development.

The increased range of motion also increases the difficulty of this movement, making it a challenging exercise for beginners.

Another reason beginners might struggle with this movement is that you need to hold the box with your arms, supporting your upper body’s weight.

One of the only problems with this substitute for reverse hyper is it’s difficult to add weight as the box can dig into your hips, making the movement uncomfortable. Yet, a barbell pad helps with this problem. 


  • Helps reduce lower back pain.
  • Builds lower back strength.
  • Improves hip mobility. 

How to do it: 

  1. Find a sturdy box (above hip height). 
  2. Lie on your stomach with the edge of the box at your hip crease, leaving your legs hanging off the edge. This is the starting position.
  3. Hold onto the box tightly. 
  4. Keep your legs straight and lift them backwards until your legs are level with your torso, squeezing the glutes at the top of the movement. 
  5. Slowly lower, hinging from the hips. 
  6. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

Focus on maintaining proper form and control throughout the movement. Ensure that your core is engaged, your back is straight, and you avoid any excessive swinging or momentum.

2. GHD Reverse Hyperextensions

GHD Reverse Hyperextensions

If you have a GHD (Glute Ham Developer) available in your gym, you’ll be happy to know you can use it for reverse hyperextensions.  

This reverse hyperextension alternative exercise is brilliant for developing your glutes and hamstrings as you can work them through a massive range of motion with the comfort of the GHD pads supporting your hips.  

Using the GHD gives you the ability to use gravity to full effect as you’re able to get your legs virtually vertical without them touching the floor, so there’s constant tension on the glutes and hamstrings.  

It’s a difficult alternative to perform, but I’ve found it far easier and much more comfortable than the box reverse hyperextensions.


  • Much more comfortable reverse hyperextension substitute.
  • Enables your to move through full range of motion.
  • The best reverse hyperextension substitute due to comfort, range and ability to add resistance.

How to do it: 

  1. Stand next to the GHD facing the footplate. 
  2. Lie face down on the GHD with your head towards the footplate and your hip crease on the support pad. 
  3. Hold onto the footplate with both arms to secure your body. 
  4. From this starting position, keep your legs straight and lift your legs upwards while squeezing your glutes. 
  5. Control the negative movement and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you want to increase the difficulty and increase glute activation, place a resistance band around your feet and open your legs, creating tension in the band while you perform each rep.   

3. Bench Reverse Hyperextensions

Man Doing Bench Reverse Hyperextensions Exercise

The bench reverse hyperextension alternative is perfect if you don’t have access to a reverse hyper machine or GHD; plus, it doesn’t take up too much room, which is always a bonus.

It’s simple to set up and is suitable for all levels of ability, allowing you to build up your glute and hamstring strength so you can move on to a more advanced movement.

Due to the bench being close to the floor, it does limit the range of motion you can achieve using this alternative for reverse hyper.

Nevertheless, this movement gives you a brilliant glute pump and makes for an excellent finisher at the end of your workout.

You can perform this reverse hyper alternative with straight or bent knees; bent knees help activate the glutes more. 


  • Minimal equipment required.
  • Great choice for beginners.
  • Helps reduce lower back pain and improves glute strength.

How to do it: 

  1. Place a bench in a flat position. 
  2. Lie on your stomach with your hips on the end of the bench. 
  3. Hold onto the bench tightly to secure your body. 
  4. From the starting position, raise your legs (legs straight or bent, you choose) as far as possible. 
  5. Squeeze your glutes at the top and slowly lower. 
  6. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

Focus on squeezing your glutes and engaging your lower back muscles as you lift your legs towards the ceiling. It's important to avoid any excessive arching of the lower back and to maintain a neutral spine position.

4. Back Raises 

Woman Doing Back Raises

Back raises are one of the most straightforward exercises on this list and are suitable for all experience levels. This reverse hyper alternative can be performed using your body weight or with additional weight such as a barbell, weighted plate, etc.

While it mainly targets the lower back, it can work the middle and upper back depending on weight placement. Using a barbell on the back of your traps increases the mid/upper back activation.  

Other areas targeted are the glutes and hamstrings. You can increase their activation by adjusting the angle of your feet; turning your toes outwards increases the amount of work required by your glutes and hamstrings.  

Even though this reverse hyperextension alternative is suitable for all levels, athletes and gym-goers training for a sport will find this movement useful as increasing the strength of the posterior chain develops power output and minimizes the risk of injury.  

Lastly, this hyperextension exercise can be performed using a back raise machine or on a GHD (Glute Hamstring Developer). 


  • Increases strength through the erector spinae muscles and improves posture.
  • You can hold onto a weight plate to increase the difficulty.
  • Perfect for beginners who need to increase strength in the hamstrings, glutes and back before doing heavier compound lifting.

How to do it: 

  1. Set the height of the back raise apparatus so the pad is hip level. 
  2. Anchor your feet into the footplate. You should be able to full bend forwards at your hip crease.
  3. From this starting position, cross your arms over your chest and hinge from your hips, slowly lowering yourself until your hamstrings are at full stretch. 
  4. Drive your hips into the pad and extend upwards until your upper body is in line with your lower body.
  5. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you want to make this exercise harder, perform the exercise with a slower tempo, focusing on the eccentric (lowering) phase to increase time under tension and muscle activation.

5. Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls 

Man Doing Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls Exercise

While this reverse hyperextension substitute is nothing like the other movements mentioned on this list, it’s a brilliant exercise to work your hamstrings and glutes without needing a massive amount of space or expensive equipment.  

The Swiss ball hamstring curl is useful for increasing muscular hypertrophy in your posterior chain while improving your body’s injury resilience.

If you’ve found your hamstrings are misfiring during squats or deadlifts, the Swiss ball hamstring curl will help re-activate your hamstrings, so they’re fully firing.  


  • Activates core stability.
  • Improves the smaller stabalizer muscles in your lower body.
  • Reduces the risk of injury in the hamstrings.

How to do it: 

  1. Grab a Swiss ball and place it on the floor between your legs. 
  2. Lie down on your back while keeping the ball where it is.
  3. Place both feet on top of the ball, with the back of your heels touching the ball (toes up). 
  4. Put your arms across your chest. 
  5. Perform a glute bridge by pushing your hips into the air and squeezing the glutes, this is the starting position. 
  6. Hold the position and use your legs to roll the ball towards your body. 
  7. Stop when the ball touches your glutes. 
  8. Reverse the movement and repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you’re struggling to balance, try placing your arms on the floor at 45-degrees to your body. This increases your body’s surface area, helping you to balance.  

Related Article - Single Dumbbell Exercises

6. Glute Ham Raises 

Man Doing Glute Ham Raises

The glute-ham raise is similar to the back raise, but it uses a different type of machine and targets your muscles from another angle.  

Rather than being on a 45-degree angle as with the back raise, the glute-ham raise places your body parallel to the floor, so you get the full effect of gravity acting on your hamstrings and glutes.

As your glutes and hamstrings need to work harder, the movement is far tougher and is best suited for intermediate to advanced gym-goers.

One aspect of this movement I love is that it works your hamstrings through a huge range of motion, placing massive amounts of stress across the muscles. This exercise is tough and doesn’t require any additional weight.  

Due to the design of the glute-ham raise machine, you can perform various versions of them using one machine; my personal favorite is negative glute ham raises to really put my glutes and hamstrings through their paces, maximizing the eccentric portion of the exercise.

However, if you don't have access to the glute ham raise machine, you can try out glute ham raise alternative exercises that will have similar effects.


  • Builds a powerful posterior chain, increasing function of the glutes and hamstrings.
  • Transfers over to better performance in compound lifts like squats and deadlifts.
  • Trains optimal joint mobility.

How to do it: 

  1. Adjust the glute-ham raise machine so the pads are comfortable. 
  2. Place your feet on the footplate and anchor them behind the supports. 
  3. Start upright with your knees bent and hips extended. 
  4. Lower yourself down and straighten your legs. 
  5. Pause at the bottom and stretch your hamstrings. 
  6. Push your hips into the pad and drive back to the start using your hamstrings and glutes to generate power. 
  7. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

To perform this exercise well the set up is important. Your feet must be secured by the pads and knees resting in the middle of the GHD pads, make sure you the distance isn't too big. You should be able to fold forward at your hip crease, but you're not going to.

Muscles Worked With Reverse Hyperextension Alternatives


During reverse hypers, your hamstrings are required to help move your lower body up and down in a controlled manner. The hamstrings are a crucial muscle for power and strength. Hamstrings are used for squats, deadlifts, running, and pulling.[1


The glutes are an impressive muscle group that is the largest muscle in the body. The role of the glutes is to develop power and explosive movement, making it the primary muscle you need to develop if you participate in sports like football, basketball, MMA, and others. Developing strong glutes gives you a strong lower back.

Spinal Erectors

These long muscles run vertically up the length of the back and are responsible for keeping your back straight throughout exercises such as the deadlift and squat.

By having strong spinal erectors, you’ll improve your overall back stability, not only improving your form for other lifts but also preventing injuries from occurring.[2]

Related Article - Best Incline Bench Press Alternatives

Are Reverse Hyper Substitutes Necessary For Gym-Goers?

The reverse hyperextension is a fantastic accessory exercise that can be used to promote hypertrophy in your posterior chain muscles, such as your glutes and hamstrings.  

It is a hip hinge movement with a difference; your upper body remains fixed while your lower body moves freely, allowing you to move your lower body.

The movement is a bodyweight exercise, but you can find specialist resistance machinery in some gyms to enable you to add weight to the movement.

Many gym-goers perform reverse hyperextensions as they help improve their overall performance during other lifts. Exercises such as heavy pulls, squats, and sprinting improve significantly. Athletes also perform reverse hypers as they help develop more strength, power, and overall fitness.   

Another reason reverse hyperextensions are popular is that they help improve your lower back’s health and prevent injuries from occurring.  

The traditional reverse hyperextensions require specialist machinery, but there are many ways the exercise can be adapted to suit whatever equipment you have available in your home gym.  

Many reverse hyperextension alternative exercises use common home gym equipment such as benches, plyometric boxes, and exercise balls, all of which take up minimal space. 

I strongly recommend you add these exercises into your workout routines as they’ll help improve your other lifts while reducing your risk of lower back injuries.

Reverse Hyperextension FAQs

Are reverse hypers good for your back? 

Reverse hypers are one of the best ways to train your posterior chain muscles, such as your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. The key to back health is having a strong posterior chain, so by performing exercises such as the reverse hypers, you’ll strengthen all the muscles you need for a bulletproof back.

How often should I do reverse hyper alternative substitute exercises? 

As with any muscle group, your posterior chain needs time to recover between workouts. However, you’ll get away with performing reverse hyper alternative exercises 2-3 times a week with adequate rest time between each workout. The last thing you want to do is overwork the muscle group, not allowing it to recover. 

Which is the easiest exercise on our list? 

Out of the exercises on the list above, back raises are the easiest to perform. The main reason is that your body is placed in a fixed position that is difficult to get wrong. So long as you use good form, you’ll be ok. Back raises are perfect for beginners and are suitable for almost anybody.  

Which is the most challenging exercise on our list? 

Most of the reverse hyperextension alternative exercises are pretty difficult due to the need to support your upper body throughout the movements. However, I find the box reverse hyperextensions extremely tough because you have to hold the box to support your upper torso. While some people might find this movement easier, some beginners will struggle with this variation. 


If you’ve been looking to increase your glutes and hamstring development and want to try something new, the reverse hyperextension is a fantastic exercise to add to your program.  

Not many gyms have a reverse hyperextension machine, but you don't have to miss out! I highly recommend you check out the reverse hyperextension alternative exercises listed above to get all the benefits of this great exercise.  

Each exercise mentioned helps you develop a super-strong posterior chain to improve muscle mass, athleticism, and overall back health.




Jo Taylor

Jo Taylor

Hi, I’m Jo. I love sunrise swims, cold water immersion and cats. I have been dedicated to strength training for the past 14 years. I became a qualified Personal Trainer in 2020, and am passionate about helping my clients get stronger. Visit Jo Taylors Website