My Take on Reverse Hypers

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Q: What’s your take on reverse hypers? I’ve heard some people who adore them and others who completely dismiss them.

A: Put it this way: there are already some pretty noteworthy lawsuits taking place against chiropractors who have injured patients with flexion-distraction techniques.

Our spines aren’t designed to buttress shear that comes from the lower body moving on the upper body with flexion (the bottom part of the movement). We can handle the “hyper” part of the hyperextensions without worrying as much about injuries to the disc, but over time, repeated hyperextension patterns can lead to such problems as spondylolysis (vertebral fracture), spondylolisthesis (vertebral slippage), and the diffuse lower back tightness that so many people have.

As with almost any exercise, though, the devil is in the details. If you don’t allow your legs to swing under you in the bottom position (i.e., stay in neutral spine), and also fire the glutes to stop-short and avoid hyperextension at the top, you can avoid the aforementioned problems. The problem for most lifters here is ego; if you are going to use these modifications strictly, you’ll have to take your load down by a LOT.

So, there are contraindicated people and contraindicated techniques – but not necessarily a contraindicated exercise.

For more information, I highly recommend Dr. Stuart McGill’s Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance.