The back extension is a great exercise that is not only beneficial for people looking to increase muscle tone in their back, but also for those who are trying to prevent potential back problems. Once the basic form of the exercise becomes too easy, try including your legs to get a more challenging workout.About the Back Extension
Before learning any new exercise, it is important to understand why the exercise is important, as well as what muscle groups are targeted by the exercise. In the case of the back extension, the primary muscles targeted are those in the lower back. Strengthening these muscles is very important because it helps to provide a great deal of stabilization to this part of the body. Many people experience strains and other injuries of this part of the body. By keeping it strong, you can greatly decrease your chance of having an injury.Positioning Your Body
Before performing the exercise, it is essential that you position your body properly. Start by setting a yoga or exercise mat down on the ground. Lay down on the mat on your belly. Bend your elbow, bringing your hands together below your chin and lacing your fingers together. Take some deep breaths, and try to relax your body as much as possible before performing the exercise. Try to keep your spine as straight as possible. When viewed from the top, your body should look like it is in a straight line.Performing the Back Extension
Now that you are positioned properly, you can begin to actually perform the exercise. Continue taking deep breaths. As you exhale your next breath, use the muscles in your lower back to lift your chest and arms off the ground. Raise your upper body towards the sky as much as you can without feeling pain in your back. When you can no longer extend your back any farther, inhale your breath, and slowly lower your chest and arms back down to the ground. Perform ten repetitions of the exercise before taking a short break. Do at least two sets of ten repetitions of the exercise in order to achieve optimal results.Increasing the Intensity of the Back Extension
One great way to increase the intensity of the basic form of this exercise is by increasing the length of the lever that is being lifted. In the case of back extensions, the level is your torso and arms. Instead of bending your elbows and lacing your fingers together under your chin, try extending your arms out in front of your body while performing this exercise. You will find that this greatly increases the weight that the working muscles must lift, thereby intensifying the exercise.
Other ways to make this exercise harder is by including your legs. Instead of just lifting your chest and arms, try to also lift your legs off the ground. You will be resting mainly on your belly and pelvis. As with extending your arms, this greatly increases the weight that is being lifted, thereby intensifying the exercise.