Reverse Hyperextensions: The Ultimate Review!


The reverse hyperextension machine is one of the best exercises you can perform for your lower back. This machine is unique because they strengthen your lower back and rehabilitate it at the same time.

If you want to build a strong, healthy lower back then the reverse hyperextension is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: The Rogue RH-2
  • Part 2: The Rogue Z Hyper
  • Part 3: The Westside Scout Hyper
  • Part 4: The Rogue Donkey

In this comprehensive guide I will teach you everything you need to know about the reverse hyperextension machine.

The reverse hyperextension is a lower back machine invented by Louie Simmons, the founder of the Westside Barbell powerlifting gym in Columbus, Ohio. The reverse hyperextension is unique because it decompresses the spine and strengthens the lower back, glutes and hamstrings all at the same time.

Louie Simmons has patents for 4 types of reverse hyperextension machines. Check it out:

The 4 Best Reverse Hyperextension Machines To Buy

In this guide I will give a complete review of each of these models. But first we have to talk about what makes this exercise so special.

Louie Simmons believes the reverse hyperextension is the best exercise in the world for strengthening and rehabilitating your lower back. Here is Louie demonstrating this exercise:

The Reverse Hyperextension

The reverse hyperextension is almost like the opposite of a 45 degree or 90 degree hyperextension. Instead of extending your upper body forwards you are extending your legs back behind you.

This unique movement pattern is what makes the reverse hyperextension so effective.

Here is Louie Simmons describing his exercise:

“The reverse hyperextension decompresses the spine and produces no vertical compression on the spine at all.

The spine is gently stretched and depressurized during the process, creating–in essence–an internal pumping mechanism, filling the spinal column with spinal fluid and the lower back muscles with blood.

This simple device allows for dynamic strength development in the concentric phase, while serving as a rehabilitation mechanism in the eccentric phase.”

Louie Simmons applied for his first patent on the reverse hyperextension in 1994. Sense then serious athletes all over the world have used the reverse hyperextension as their primary assistance exercise to strengthen the lower back, glutes and hamstrings.

Many rehabilitation professionals have also started using this exercise to help heal patients with chronic lower back pain. In fact I have used the reverse hyperextension extensively in my own physical therapy practice.

Here is Dr. Blake Slater giving a great visual explanation for how the reverse hyperextension decompresses and rehabilitates the spine:

The Science Of Reverse Hyperextensions

Fortunately there is a ton of new research supporting the use of the reverse hyperextension machine for strengthening and decompressing the lower back.

Lawrence et. al. found that the reverse hyperextension machine is superior to the traditional 90 degree back extension for training the muscles of the lower back (1). Check it out:

“The reverse hyperextension created a greater peak (+129%), integrated (+63%), and mean (+78%) low back moment as compared to the traditional hyperextension exercise.”

Another study published by Cuthbert et. al. in 2021 found that the reverse hyperextension is superior to other exercises for training the lower back, glutes and hamstrings (2). Check it out:

“The reverse hyperextension could be considered as a higher-intensity exercise for the posterior chain muscles compared with the traditional hyperextension, potentially eliciting greater increases in strength of the posterior chain muscles.”

More research is needed on the reverse hyperextension to come to any final conclusions. However, the studies published so far support Louie Simmons and elite athletes all over the world who have used the reverse hyperextension to become stronger and healthier. 

Scientific studies are great but at the end of the day nothing beats real-world experience. Louie Simmons has used the reverse hyperextension machine to perform some unbelievable feats of strength.

Here is a great video of Louie Simmons squatting 920 pounds at 52 years old. Check it out:

Louie Simmons 920 Pound Squat

What an incredible lift!

Louie Simmons says that the reverse hyperextension was the key to making this happen. Louie actually performed the reverse hyperextension twice per day, 4 days per week when he set this world record!

Louie likes to perform a heavy strengthening session in the morning and a lighter restorative session in the evening. Check it out:

Louie Simmons Reverse Hyperextension Training Schedule

  • Morning: 4 sets of 10 reps @ 50% of his 1-rep max squat
  • Evening: 2 sets of 15 reps @ 25% of his 1-rep max squat

This is the exact plan that many other elite powerlifters like Chuck Vogelpohl and AJ Roberts have used.

The bodybuilding coach John Meadows was also a huge fan of this exercise. John Meadows was 49 years old when he passed away and he said that the reverse hyperextension machine is the reason he could still train hard on squats and deadlifts.

Here is a great video of John coaching his client on this exercise:

John Meadows Reverse Hyperextensions

Here is john describing his experience with the reverse hyperextension:

“This is a phenomenal rehab exercise. Louie Simmons, I always have to give Louie credit. He’s the one who invented this machine.

If it wasn’t for Louie I would have a really, really, really bad back right now. If you have access to the reverse hyper then make sure you do these.”

The bottom line is the reverse hyperextension is one of the best pieces of equipment in the world.

Many elite athletes all over the world use the reverse hyper as their primary lower back exercise. It is the only lower back exercise that strengthens and rehabilitates your lower back at the same time.

Louie Simmons has patents on 4 different reverse hyperextension machines:

The 4 Best Reverse Hyperextension Machines To Buy

The Rogue RH-2 is the standard reverse hyper machine. It costs $795 and is the primary machine used by Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell powerlifting team.

The Rogue Z Hyper is a more heavy-duty version of the RH-2 machine. Some of its features include beefed up 3×3″ 11-gauge steel construction and custom front handles that allow you to adjust the machine for any body type.

The Rogue Z Hyper is slightly more expensive at $915 but for the serious athlete it may be worth the extra cost.

The Westside Scout Hyper is the newest model invented by Louie Simmons. It costs just $385, weighs less than 100 pounds and can fold up for easy storage and transportation.

Louie Simmons says the Westside Scout Hyper is his most affordable reverse hyper and a great choice for anyone who is not an elite powerlifter.

Finally there is the Rogue Donkey. This machine allows you to perform the reverse hyperextension, glute ham raises, 90 degree back extensions and many other exercises.

It is the most versatile reverse hyperextension machine on the market but it is also the most expensive at $2,065. If you are a serious powerlifter then this machine may be worth the extra investment.

I hope you found this overview of the reverse hyperextension helpful. Now let’s take a closer look at the 4 best reverse hyperextension machines on the market.

Part 1: The Rogue RH-2

The Rogue RH-2 is the classic reverse hyperextension machine used by the Westside Barbell powerlifting gym in Columbus, Ohio.

Here is the elite powerlifter Marc Bell giving a perfect demonstration of this machine:

The Rogue RH-2 Reverse Hyper

Here is Marc Bell describing the benefits of this machine:

“The reverse hyper is unique because there is nothing you can do to mimic this. People try to hop up on the table or set something up on the gym but you really can’t mimic it unless you have access to one.”

Marc Bell is absolutely right! It is almost impossible to mimic the benefits of this machine on your own. Rogue is known for building the highest-quality equipment in the fitness industry and this machine is no exception.

The RH-2 is extremely durable and strong enough to handle loads used by 1,000+ pound squatters and deadlifters.

Here are the gear specifications according to Rogue:

Rogue RH-2 Gear Specifications

  • Made in the USA
  • Compatible with all increments of bumpers and steel, including 45LB steel plates
  • 10.5” usable storage length
  • Multiple hand-holds to accommodate varying user heights
  • Includes Rogue Axles Collars and Spud Inc. Hyper Strap
  • Compatible Reverse Hyper Roller Attachment available at additional cost
  • Unit Ships Assembled

Louie Simmons and the Rogue Fitness team have done everything they can to produce the perfect reverse hyper machine and it shows.

The machine is made from extremely sturdy 2×3” and 2×2” steel tubing which is strong enough to support 300-400 pound powerlifters.

On top of the machine you have a 3-inch thick pad which is very comfortable and wide enough to accommodate any type of lifter. 

The only thing I don’t like about this machine is it does not come with the reverse hyper roller attachment. This is something you have to order separately. Here is a great video of Louie Simmons using the roller attachment:

The Westside Roller Attachment

The roller attachment locks your feet in place as you perform the exercise.

Louie Simmons says that the roller attachment works your lower back muscles a little more effectively than the strap attachment. On the other hand the strap attachment is a little more effective for training the glutes and hamstrings.

If you are serious about strengthening your lower back then you may want to buy the extra roller attachment with your order.

If you want to order your own RH-2 machine then click on the following link:

The Rogue RH-2 Reverse Hyper

You will go directly to the Rogue website where you can complete your purchase. At just $795 this machine is well worth the investment.

Part 2: The Rogue Z Hyper

The Rogue Z Hyper is an upgraded version of the original RH-2 Reverse Hyper.

It features several big improvements including a new bolt-together design (for easier portability), beefed up 3×3″ 11-gauge steel construction and adjustable front handles that allow users of any size to custom-tailor their desired hand placement.

Here is a great video review of the Rogue Z Hyper machine:

The Rogue Z Hyper Review

If the Rogue RH-2 is your girlfriend when she feels like staying in for the night then the Rogue Z Hyper is your girlfriend when she’s dressed to the nines and ready for a night out on town.

The Rogue RH-2 is easy on your eyes but the Rogue Z Hyper really gets your heart racing!

Here are the gear specifications according to Rogue:

Rogue Z Hyper Specifications

  • Made in the USA
  • Bolt-together design
  • 3×3” 11-gauge steel construction
  • Footprint: 51.5″ x 43″(1.31M x 1.09M)
  • Compatible with all increments of bumpers and steel, including 45LB steel plates
  • 10.5″ loadable length on each side of the swing arm allows for a capacity of over 700LB of steel plates
  • Adjustable Front Handles (ranging from 2-14″ from pad edge) to accommodate varying user heights
  • Oversized Pad with extended lip portion for better comfort
  • Protective Rubber Feet
  • Includes (1) pair of Rogue Metal Axle Collars and (1) Spud Inc. Hyper Strap
  • Optional Base Crossmember addition for resistance bands
  • Optional Reverse Hyper Roller Attachment also available*

If you want the absolute best reverse hyperextension machine that Rogue has to offer then this machine is for you.

The Rogue Z Hyper costs $915 which is slightly more expensive than the original Rogue RH-2 model at $795. Only you can decide if the extra features are worth the slight increase in price.

The Westside Barbell sometimes uses the Rogue Z Hyper model in their own workouts. Here is what a typical Westside Barbell dynamic effort squat / deadlift workout might look like. Check it out:

Westside DE Lower Workout

  • Exercise #1: Speed box squat with bands, 6-12 sets of 2 reps
  • Exercise #2: Speed deadlift with bands, 6-12 sets of 1 reps
  • Exercise #3: Inverse leg curl, 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #4: Reverse hyperextension, 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps

Here is the training video:

As you can see the Westside Barbell powerlifting team uses the Rogue Z Hyper as their primary lower back assistance exercise. The Westside team is constantly rotating through different exercises but the Rogue Z Reverse Hyperextension is a staple in almost all of their squat / deadlift workouts.

If you want to purchase your own Rogue Z Hyper then click on the following link:

The Rogue Z Reverse Hyper

You will go directly to the Rogue website where you can complete your purchase. At just $915 this machine is well worth the investment.

Part 3: The Westside Scout Hyper

The Westside Scout Hyper is the newest reverse hyperextension machine invented by Louie Simmons.

This model has 2 big advantages over the Rogue RH-2 and Rogue Z Hyper: it is much cheaper and it is foldable for easy transport and storage.

Here is Louie Simmons giving a great overview of this machine:

The Westside Scout Hyper

The Westside Scout Hyper is Louie Simmons’ cheapest reverse hyperextension machine. It costs just $385 which is less than half the cost of the original Rogue RH-2 Hyper.

The Westside Scout Hyper weighs less than 100 pounds and is extremely easy to transport and set up. This makes it a great choice for anyone who needs a cheap, lightweight version of the reverse hyper for everyday use.

Here is Louie Simmons describing his newest invention:

“I need one that’s foldable for anyone. So when you decide to make a fold up model that you can actually take home and put underneath your bed. It just has 2 knobs you pull out and the machine just folds up to almost a table.

I created it because I realized everyone should have one so everyone can benefit from it. I didn’t just want someone like a pro team to have it.

It weighs less than 100 pounds and within 5 minutes it’s ready to go. But once they get it set up they’re not going to want to take it down, they’re going to leave it there.”

The Westside Scout Hyper has received extremely positive reviews from other members of the fitness community.

In fact Cooper Mitchell, the founder of Garage Gym Reviews says that the Westside Scout Hyper is probably the best reverse hyperextension machine for most home gyms. Check it out:

Here is Coop giving his seal of approval:

“I think this is the best type of reverse hyper for most gym owners. It doesn’t mean I think it’s the best for everybody or the best reverse hyper ever made or anything like that. But I think this is the best for most home gym owners.”

Here are the Westside Scout Hyper gear specifications according to Rogue:

Westside Scout Hyper Specifications

  • Reverse Hyper with folding mechanism for easy storage
  • Developed by Louie Simmons and Westside Barbell
  • Weight (unloaded): 86 LBS
  • Max User Weight Capacity : 300LB (136KG)
  • Max Swing Arm Weight Capacity : 176LB (80KG)
  • Length: 38″ (depth – including arms, unfolded)
  • Width: 27.5″ (pad) / 32″ (including pop pins)
  • Height: 46.5″ (top of pad, unfolded)
  • Footprint: 47.5″ x 27.5″ (unfolded – at feet) / 8” x 27.5″ (folded – at feet)
  • Includes (1) Hyper Strap and (1) Set of Spring Collars
  • Rubber Feet and Step for stability and safety
  • Weight Posts: 5.25” Loadable Length
  • Color: Black with Westside Barbell branding in white
  • 2 Year Warranty

The thing that really impresses me about this machine is it’s patented fordable design. It can easily be folded up and placed in a closet or even underneath your bed.

Here is Rogue describing this design feature:

“The Westside Scout Hyper offers storage convenience with its patented groove folding mechanism, collapsing down to a depth of just 13” when stowed.

It’s also considerably lighter and more portable than most traditional Reverse Hyper machines, making it easy to move, unfold, and lock-in before each use.”

If the Westside Scout Hyper is so great then why does anyone bother buying the Rogue RH-2 Hyper or the Rogue Z Hyper? The main drawback of this model is it’s lack of stability. The machine weighs less than 100 pounds and is less sturdy than the other models.

If you are an elite level powerlifter then you probably need a sturdier model. However, for average Joe’s who are squatting and deadlifting in the 300-500 pound range this machine will work perfectly.

The Westside Scout Hyper is also a great choice for rehabilitation professionals who plan on using relatively lighter weights.

Here is a perfect demonstration of this machine with a moderately heavy weight:

The Westside Scout Hyper

The Westside Scout Hyper does not have a lot of side-to-side stability but it does have a lot of front-to-back stability. The odds of this thing moving forwards or backwards while you use it are very low.

If you are in the market for a budget-friendly reverse hyperextension machine that is lightweight and easy to transport then the Westside Scout Hyper has your name written all over it! 

If you want to purchase your own Westside Scout Hyper then click on the following link:

You will go directly to the Rogue website where you can complete your purchase. At just $385 this machine is well worth the investment.

Part 4: The Rogue Donkey

The Rogue Donkey is the Rolls Royce of reverse hyperextension machines. No, it’s more than that – it’s more like the “Prestige Worldwide” of reverse hyperextensions!

This model is like a hybrid between a reverse hyperextension, a glute ham raise and a 90 degree back extension. You can perform all 3 of these exercises on the Rogue Donkey.

Here is a perfect demonstration of someone using this machine:

The Rogue Donkey Demonstration

The Rogue Donkey is an incredibly sturdy machine. You never have to worry about this machine shaking while you use it because it is almost glued to the ground.

The only downside to the Rogue Donkey is the price. This machine sells at $2,065 on the Rogue website.

This machine is a great option for anyone who wants the versatility to perform reverse hyperextensions, glute ham raises and 90 degree back extensions all in one place. It can also be a good choice for anyone who wants to save space in their own home gym.

Here are the gear specifications according to Rogue:

Rogue Donkey Specifications

  • Made in the USA
  • Available as stand-alone unit or as addition to Rogue Z Hyper
  • Stand-Alone Weight: 500 LBS
  • 3×3” 11-gauge steel base construction
  • Total Footprint: 73″ x 44″
  • Height 54.5″ Total (At Footplate) / 45″ Pad Height
  • Includes: (1) Spud Inc. Hyper Strap and (1) set Rogue Axle Collars
  • Finish: Signature Black Powder Coat
  • Adjustable Swing Arm Technology: 10 Settings
  • Rubber Feet for Stability and Floor Protection
  • Patent Pending Design

One of the things that I really like about this machine is it is very easy to adjust. The Rogue Donkey can be adjusted to 10 different settings to accommodate a wide variety of body shapes and sizes.

You can also adjust the machine to overload your muscles in slightly different ways for a unique training effect. Check it out:

“The Donkey carries over the same swing-arm technology found in our Abram GHD 2.0, enabling the user to quickly shift the roller assembly / hyper handles to his or her desired setting, with 10 lock-in positions to choose from, as well as 3 height settings.

Adjustments can be made simply by pulling and placing the included pop pin, making the machine quickly customizable to any athlete, even in a busy training space.”

If you are looking for a heavy-duty and versatile reverse hyperextension machine then the Rogue Donkey is your best bet.

In fact there are at least 7 different exercises that you can perform with this machine in your home gym. Check it out:

The 7 Rogue Donkey Exercises You Can Perform

The 7 exercises you can perform are reverse hyperextensions, 90 degree hyperextensions, glute ham raises, roman chair sit ups, hip abduction / adduction, pull throughs and donkey kickbacks. Talk about a versatile piece of equipment! 

If you want to purchase your own Rogue Donkey reverse hyper then click on the following link:

The Rogue Donkey

You will go directly to the Rogue website where you can complete your purchase. This machine costs $2,065.

If you are serious about putting together the ultimate home gym or powerlifting gym then you may want to consider purchasing this machine.

Conclusion

The reverse hyperextension is the brainchild of Louie Simmons, the founder of the Westside Barbell powerlifting club and one of the greatest strength coaches of all time.

The reverse hyperextension is unique from other lower back exercises because it strengthens and rehabilitates the lower back at the exact same time.

The real magic behind the reverse hyperextension is the fact that it decompresses your lumbar discs in the bottom position of the exercise. When you perform the reverse hyper you are actively pumping spinal fluid into your lumbar discs which has a powerful healing effect on your lower back.

There are only 4 reverse hyperextension machines on the market that are endorsed by Louie Simmons: 

The 4 Best Reverse Hyperextension Machines To Buy

If you are on the market for a reverse hyperextension machine then I highly recommend you purchase one of these machines.

Rogue Fitness is known for producing the highest quality machines available anywhere in the world. This is why Louie Simmons partnered with Rogue to manufacture his Westside Barbell line of equipment.

If you want to learn more about the Westside Barbell line of strength training equipment then check out the following article:

Westside Barbell Equipment: The Ultimate Guide!

Louie Simmons has invented many other incredible pieces of equipment like the inverse leg curl and the belt squat. These exercises will help you on your way to the top.

Here is one more quote by Louie Simmons to pump you up even more:

“The greatest people in anything, regardless of sport or discipline, they have the belief that they are the greatest and they are not afraid to fail. If you are afraid of failure you will never succeed.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

References

  1. Lawrence MA, Chin A, Swanson BT. Biomechanical Comparison of the Reverse Hyperextension Machine and the Hyperextension Exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2019 Aug;33(8):2053-2056. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003146. PMID: 30946266.
  2. Cuthbert M, Ripley NJ, Suchomel TJ, Alejo R, McMahon JJ, Comfort P. Electromyographical Differences Between the Hyperextension and Reverse-Hyperextension. J Strength Cond Res. 2021 Jun 1;35(6):1477-1483. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000004049. PMID: 34027916.

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

Thanks for checking out my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen and I'm the founder of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to reach your size and strength goals faster then you've come to the right place. My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world. So grab a seat, kick back and relax. There's never been a better time to lift weights or to learn the art and science of strength training program design.

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