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BACK EXTENSION : VITAL FOR STRONG LOWER BACK Learn the back extension exercise from U.S. Olympic & Team USA coach, Harvey Newton. Strengthening the lumbar muscles is of primary importance for weightlifters, as the ability to maintain a neutral spine throughout the lifts adds both to safety and to performance. The simplest exercise for developing the spinal erector muscles is the back extension. Special benches are available for this exercise, or ... it can be performed from any elevated surface, with an assistance holding the feet in place. While hanging securely so that the torso is perpendicular to the floor, slowly elevate the torso while maintaining a neutral spine until the torso is parallel to the floor. Slowly return to the staring position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Do not hyperextend the spine by rising above parallel to the floor. Repetitions are normally in the 8-12 range. After several weeks of performing the exercise with body weight only additional weight may be held behind the head.