Roman Chair Workout: Best Exercises For A Strong Back & Core

If you’ve been looking to develop a strong back and core, you need to have the Roman chair in your workout.  

It’s a versatile piece of gym equipment that works most of your body. However, it can be challenging to know what the best exercises are.  

In this article, you’ll discover the best Roman chair workout and how to perform each movement to give you the most bang for your buck.  

1. Side Bends  

One of the most popular exercises to perform on the Roman chair is a side bend. This exercise primarily targets your obliques (located on the sides of your abdominals).  

Performing this exercise helps you achieve the coveted V-cut abs. 

But, the benefits of this exercise are more than aesthetic. Having stronger obliques will help to improve your other lifts, such as deadlifts and squats. Your obliques help stabilize your body throughout major lifts, so it’s incredibly beneficial to strengthen the muscle group.

How to do it: 

  • Lie on your side and secure your feet to the Roman chair’s leg supports.  
  • Place your hands on your ribs or head, and straighten your back.  
  • Keep your body straight and tilt towards the floor from your hip joint.  
  • Focus on your obliques and pull yourself back to the starting position.  
  • Finish your set and swap sides.  

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roman chair Side Bend

2. Weighted Side Bends 

Once you’ve mastered the bodyweight side bend, you can progress to the weighted side bend.  

Adding additional weight helps you overload your obliques with additional stimulus, increasing the engagement of the oblique muscle fibers.  

You can use any type of resistance for the weight, such as a dumbbell, kettlebell, weighted plate, or even a resistance band.  

However, this is an advanced variation of the side bend, so if you’re new to working out, you should aim to learn the movement using your body weight before progressing to this exercise.  

How to do it: 

  • Hold a dumbbell in your right hand.  
  • Lie on your right side; hook your feet into the Roman chair leg supports.  
  • Keep your body straight and bend towards the floor, stretching your obliques.  
  • Pull yourself back to the starting position.  
  • Finish your reps and swap sides. 

Garage Gym Pro Tip: Using heavier weights doesn’t always mean better results. Focus on engaging the obliques fully throughout the entire movement. Don’t sacrifice form for using more weight. 

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Weighted Side Bends

3. Back Extensions 

The Roman chair back extension is one of my favorite exercises for strengthening your lower back and glutes.  

During the movement, you work your posterior chain through an extensive range of motion, stimulating the muscle fibers at all stages.  

This exercise is an excellent movement to teach beginners and helps develop the hip hinge needed for other exercises like the deadlift.  

If you’ve had lower back problems, this exercise could be a brilliant way to get your back strong again. 

How to do it: 

  • Adjust the Roman chair pad, so it sits at hip height.  
  • Lie on the Roman chair (on your front) and hook your feet under the supports.  
  • Place both hands behind your neck or crossed over your chest.  
  • Lower your body slowly towards the floor.  
  • Lift your torso back to the start.  
  • Repeat.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip: Always perform this movement slowly; don’t sacrifice form for additional reps.

Learn More - Back Extension Vs Glute Ham Raise 

roman chair back extension

4. Weighted Back Extensions 

The weighted back extension is the next stage of the bodyweight back extension, and it should only be attempted if you’ve managed to master the movement and have excellent form.  

Using additional weight during this movement helps you increase the muscle stimulus, increasing the amount of work done and promoting muscle growth.  

While I love the bodyweight extension, the weighted back extension is one of my favorite Roman chair exercises; it gives you an incredible burn.  

It works your hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and spinal muscles.  

How to do it: 

  • Choose a suitable weight and lie on the Roman exercise chair. 
  • Hook your feet under the supports.  
  • Place the weight across your chest and wrap your arms over it to keep it in place.  
  • Lower your body in a controlled manner towards the floor.  
  • Lift your body slowly to the starting position, and squeeze your glutes.  
  • Repeat the movement to finish your set. 
Weighted Back Extensions

5. Isometric Glute Hold 

The isometric glute hold is a challenging exercise that maximizes the amount of work the glutes need to perform.  

Usually, I'd recommend performing this exercise using the GHD (glute ham developer) as it places your body in a horizontal position, making it more challenging. However, the Roman chair is a brilliant variation of the movement, which is slightly easier to perform due to the 45-degree angle.  

This is one of the best Roman chair glute exercises around.  

How to do it: 

  • Lie (face down) on the Roman chair and tuck your feet under the supports.  
  • Hold your body straight, and squeeze the glutes tightly.  
  • Hold the position for 10 seconds, and relax.  
  • Repeat several times.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip: Try adding this exercise to the end of your glute workout; it’s a fantastic finisher.

roman chair Isometric Glute Hold

6. Preacher Biceps Curl 

The preacher biceps curl is one of the more unconventional exercises for the Roman chair but is an excellent way for you to isolate your biceps.  

When it comes to working your biceps, you want to overload the muscles with weight while minimizing any “cheating” such as swinging. This helps stimulate your biceps for muscle growth, giving you T-shirt filling biceps.  

The Roman chair is a fantastic make-shift preacher curl, making the machine extremely versatile.  

This is the perfect option if you’re looking to add variation to your Roman chair exercises at home.  

How to do it: 

  • Face the handle side of the preacher curl while holding two dumbbells.  
  • Place your triceps on the hip support pad. 
  • Lower the dumbbells until your arms are straight (don’t lock your elbows).  
  • Curl the dumbbells towards your face, squeezing your biceps at the top of the movement.  
  • Slowly lower and repeat.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip: Aim to control the weight from start to finish; this helps activate more muscle fibers in your biceps.

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roman chair Preacher Biceps Curl

7. Roman Chair Twist  

The Roman chair twist is one of the tougher Roman chair oblique exercises. If you’re a beginner, you might want to try this movement using bodyweight before you attempt adding weight.  

While the movement works your obliques, it trains your abdominals and lower back, helping you achieve a beach-ready six-pack.  

The movement is similar to the Russian twist, except you’re sitting on an angled Roman chair. The chair’s angle gives you the perfect amount of support that your body needs, allowing you to twist through a full range of motion.  

How to do it: 

  • Hold a weighted plate. 
  • Sit on the Roman chair support pad and hook your feet under the foot supports.  
  • Lean backwards until your body is roughly 60-degrees to the ground.  
  • Maintain a straight back.  
  • Lift the plate out in front of you with straight arms.  
  • Twist your body to both sides using a controlled movement; that’s one rep.  
  • Complete your set and rest.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip: Don’t rotate your body too quickly; the last thing you want is momentum taking over, as it’ll reduce the work your core is doing.  

Also Read - How Many Weight Plates Do I Need?

Roman Chair Twist

8. Roman Chair Sit-Ups 

The Roman chair sit-up is a harder version of the floor sit-up, primarily due to the angle your body is at and the increased force placed on the abs as you fight against gravity. 

It’s one of the best Roman chair ab exercises around but is best suited for more advanced gym-goers looking to take their abs to the next level.  

The Roman chair sit-up can be performed with or without additional weight. As with several of the other exercises on this list, I'd recommend that you master the bodyweight Roman chair sit-up before adding any extra weight.  

How to do it: 

  • Sit on the Roman chair support pad and hook your feet into the roller pads.  
  • Place your hands on your temple.  
  • Lower your body towards the floor (stopping just below parallel). 
  • Lift your torso back to the starting position.  
  • Repeat.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip: Want to increase the difficulty? Try adding a pause midway through each rep. Your abs will notice the difference.

Read Also - How To Use A Sit Up Bench

Roman Chair Sit-Ups

Benefits Of Roman Chair Workouts (Are They Good For Home Gyms?)

The Roman chair is a fantastic piece of equipment to have in your home gym. It works your lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and abs, giving you an almost full-body workout.  

They are useful for building muscle as they don’t require any additional weight, making them suitable for all ability levels. I love using the Roman chair because it helps strengthen my posterior chain, and I always say, "a strong posterior chain is a strong body."  

By working your posterior chain muscles (such as your glutes), you are helping your body keep injuries at bay. Having strong glutes is one of the best ways to avoid back problems as you age; plus, the majority of the public have office jobs, so the glutes tend to switch off due to sitting all day; working them re-activates them. 

The Roman chair is suitable for most gym-goers. As I mentioned before, it doesn’t need any additional weight, as body weight can give you an excellent workout on this machine.  

If you’ve suffered from back pain, the Roman chair could be an excellent low impact exercise to re-strengthen your back. Unlike other complex movements, e.g., the deadlift, the Roman chair is a far simpler movement with a reduced risk of injury.

My clients have had great success using this machine during back rehabilitation; however, always consult your physician before introducing the Roman chair to your workout. 

Most individuals who introduce the Roman chair to their workouts find that it boosts sports performance, increases back mobility, fixes postural problems, and improves balance.  

There are other non-conventional ways to use the Roman chair, such as performing preacher curls using the support pads to support your arms or using the handles for tricep dips. Considering it’s not a large piece of equipment, it allows you to work many different muscle groups.  

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Frequently Asked Roman Chair Questions 

How often should you exercise on a Roman Chair? 

Like any muscle group, your glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and core needs adequate recovery time. Using the Roman chair 2-3 times a week should be enough to achieve your training goals.  

It’s worth remembering that doing more of something isn’t always a good thing. My clients get fantastic results from using the Roman chair once or twice a week. Try it out and see how your body reacts. 

What’s the difference between a GHD and Roman chair? 

The Glute Ham Developer and the Roman chair are excellent for developing your glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and core muscles. However, even though the machines target similar areas, there is a slight difference.  

The GHD places your body in a horizontal position, changing the way gravity acts upon your body, while the Roman chair is traditionally at 45-degrees. The Roman chair is usually the easier of the two machines.  

How do you do Roman chair sit-ups at home? 

To work your core at home, there is a wide range of exercises you could perform. If you don’t have a Roman chair, you can perform exercises such as the crunch, reverse crunch, Russian twist, bicycle crunch, V sit, and even the hanging leg raise.  

There are many core exercise options out there, so regardless of your ability levels, there will be exercises available for you. 

Can you do dips on a Roman chair? 

If your Roman chair has handles on the front of the machine, the likelihood is you'll be able to perform dips on it. However, always be sure to check your Roman chair's handles can support your weight before you start performing your set. In most cases, the handles are excellent for performing dips. 


Conclusion

The Roman chair is a fantastic piece of gym equipment that makes an excellent addition to any home gym. There are many exercises you can perform, working your entire body in the process.  

The list above gives you the best Roman chair exercises, giving you everything you need to develop a stronger back and impressive core strength.  

Try adding several of the exercises to your workout routine and watch your other lifts improve as your back and core become stronger.  

Last Updated on June 12, 2022