3 Roman Chair Exercises for Core and Back Strength

3 Roman Chair Exercises for Core and Back Strength (Beginner-Friendly)

Designed to improve your core strength, posture, and overall body balance, Roman Chair exercises will test your grit and determination. These exercises can add a powerful punch to your fitness routine, and the results will be well worth it.

But how do you perform them properly? This beginner’s guide covers all the essentials: targeted muscles, proper forms and techniques, and crucial safety measures.

Young handsome fit man performing back-extension exercise on roman chair in a gym Image source: iStock by Getty Images
Source: iStock by Getty Images

How to Set Up Your Roman Chair Correctly

Now, before you get started with Roman Chair Exercises it’s crucial that you set up your equipment correctly to prevent injury and maximize the effectiveness of your workout.

To effectively set up your Roman chair, follow these steps:

  1. Adjust the height: Start by adjusting the height of the pad so that when you lay over it, the edge lines up with your hip joint. This placement allows for a full range of motion without putting undue stress on your spine.
  2. Position your feet: The footplate should be adjusted so that your toes point downward slightly when you’re in position. This helps keep your feet firmly anchored during the exercise and ensures proper alignment.
  3. Test the setup: Before starting your exercise, do a test run. Get onto the chair, and place your feet on the footplate and your hips against the pad. Your body should be able to move freely without any discomfort or restriction.

Roman Chair Exercises for Beginners

Roman chair exercises are a great way for beginners to strengthen their core, lower back, and glutes. Here are some beginner-friendly Roman chair exercises you can try:

1. Roman Chair Leg Raise

The Roman Chair Leg Raise is a fantastic exercise that targets your lower abdominals and hip flexors.

How to do it:

  • Stand facing the chair, with your back against the pad and your forearms resting on the armrests.
  • Grip the handles, keeping your shoulders relaxed and down.
  • Slowly raise your knees towards your chest while maintaining a straight back.
  • Lower your legs back to the starting position in a controlled manner. That’s one rep!

The key to the Roman Chair Leg Raise is control. It’s not about how quickly you can do the exercise, but about engaging your core and moving your legs in a slow, controlled manner. This is how you effectively target those lower abs and hip flexors.

2. Roman Chair Hyperextensions

Roman Chair Hyperextensions are a fantastic exercise for strengthening your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.

How to do it:

  • Position yourself with your thighs against the pad, lean forward at the waist, and place your ankles securely under the footpads.
  • Cross your arms over your chest or place your hands lightly behind your ears. Make sure not to pull on your neck if you choose the latter.
  • Lower your upper body down towards the ground in a controlled manner, bending at the waist.
  • Slowly lift your upper body back up using your lower back muscles until your body forms a straight line. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement for a second, then repeat.

The emphasis in Roman Chair Hyperextensions should be on the lowering phase of the exercise, so make sure to control your movement on the way down. Always keep your back straight, not rounded, to avoid injury. It’s not about how far you can bend down but about maintaining good form throughout the exercise

3. Roman Chair Knee Raise

The Roman Chair Knee Raise is a fantastic exercise that primarily targets your lower abs, but it also works your upper abs and obliques. It’s a great way to strengthen your core and improve overall stability.

How to do it:

  • Sit on the Roman chair with your back against the pad and your forearms resting on the armrests.
  • Engage your core and lift your knees toward your chest by flexing your hip muscles.
  • Hold for a moment, then lower your knees back down.
Image of a man performing a roman chair knee raise. Source: Pexels
Image source: Pexels

Avoid swinging your legs or using momentum to lift your knees. The key to this exercise is controlling and engaging your abs to lift your legs.

4. Roman Chair Oblique Twists

Roman Chair Oblique Twists are a fantastic exercise targeting your obliques, the muscles on the sides of your abdominals. They’re excellent for toning your midsection and improving your core stability.

How to do it:

  • Stand on the chair, facing forward, with your back against the pad and your forearms resting on the armrests.
  • Securely grip the handles with your palms down.
  • Slowly raise your legs up towards your chest, but add a twist to either the left or right side, aiming to bring your knees towards your elbows.
  • Lower your legs back to the starting position in a controlled manner.

While performing the Roman Chair Oblique Twists, it’s essential to ensure control over your movements. Avoid using momentum or swinging your legs to complete the twist. Instead, focus on your obliques and use them to lift and twist your legs.

Start with 8-10 repetitions per set and aim for 2-3 sets. the number of repetitions can vary depending on your fitness level, so listen to your body and adjust accordingly. If you find the exercises too challenging, you can start with fewer repetitions and gradually increase them over time. It’s important to maintain proper form and focus on quality movements rather than quantity.

What are the benefits of Roman chair workouts?

Roman Chair workouts are a fantastic addition to any fitness regimen, offering a wide range of benefits. One of the key advantages is that it significantly strengthens your lower back. By bolstering your lower back, you reduce the risk of back pain and injuries. Exercises like hyperextensions are particularly useful in targeting these often-overlooked muscles.

Additionally, many Roman Chair workouts are incredibly effective for core development. Exercises such as leg or knee raises engage the core muscles extensively. A strong core is crucial for balance, stability, and improved athletic performance.

But the benefits don’t stop there. Roman Chair workouts can do wonders for your posture. By strengthening the back and core muscles, which play a vital role in maintaining a straight, upright position, you’ll find your posture improving significantly.

Safety Measures for Roman Chair Exercises

For any exercise, including Roman char exercises, it is essential to follow proper safety measures to reduce the risk of injury. Here are some safety tips:

  • Warm-up: Before starting any exercise, it’s crucial to warm up your muscles and joints. Engage in light cardio activity or dynamic stretches to increase blood flow and prepare your body for the workout.
  • Proper form: Maintain proper form throughout the exercise to avoid strain or injury. Keep your back straight, and core engaged, and avoid rounding or arching your back excessively. Your movements should be controlled and smooth.
  • Start with low intensity: If you’re new to Roman chair exercises, begin with low intensity and gradually increase the difficulty level as you build strength and stability. Avoid attempting advanced variations until you have mastered the basic form.
  • Don’t overextend: Avoid excessive hyperextension of your back during the exercise. Hyperextending beyond your natural range of motion can put undue stress on your spine. Focus on a controlled range of motion and avoid going too far backward.
  • Use proper resistance: Adjust the resistance level of the Roman chair according to your fitness level. Beginners should start with lower resistance settings and progress gradually. Using too much resistance can strain your back and increase the risk of injury.
  • Avoid jerky movements: Perform the exercises in a controlled and smooth manner. Avoid jerking or using momentum to lift your torso. Maintain control throughout the movement and focus on engaging the target muscles.
  • Breathing technique: Breathe steadily throughout the exercise. Exhale during the exertion phase (when lifting your torso) and inhale during the relaxation phase (when lowering your torso).
  • Progress gradually: As you become comfortable with the exercise, gradually increase the intensity, duration, or resistance level. Avoid rapid progressions that may strain your muscles or joints.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Got more questions about Roman Chair Exercises for Beginners: Getting Started Safely? Check out some commonly asked questions about this topic below.

What other exercises complement Roman Chair workouts?

Other exercises that complement Roman Chair workouts are those that target the upper body and cardiovascular system. These may include push-ups, pull-ups, and aerobic exercises like jogging or cycling. This provides a well-rounded fitness routine.

How can I tell if I’m making progress with my Roman Chair exercises?

Signs of progress can include being able to perform more repetitions, feeling stronger during the exercise, noticing muscle development, or seeing improvements in posture. Always listen to your body and consider keeping a workout journal to track your progress.

Final Word

Embarking on the journey of Roman Chair exercises for beginners can be quite exciting, isn’t it? Packed with ample benefits, these exercises can transform your strength training routine and take your fitness to a whole new level. Getting started safely is of paramount importance. Keep the safety measures in mind, adjust the equipment correctly, and gradually increase your intensity as your strength grows.

We hope you found this guide to be a helpful tool in your workout arsenal. If it has provided value to your fitness journey, feel free to share it with friends who might also benefit. Don’t forget to explore our full blog for more insights into beginner-friendly workouts and comprehensive fitness strategies. Stay fit, stay healthy, and continue challenging your limits!


Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.