The Reverse Hyper is a piece of equipment that is underappreciated by many. Many gyms don’t have it, but it’s growing in popularity as its benefits become known.
Louis Simmons, power lifter and founder of Westside Barbell, created this machine in response to breaking his back in the 1970s. He refused surgery, which would require removing two discs and fusing. He could not do any other back strengthening exercise without extreme pain. Because of this, he invented the Reverse Hyper. With the Reverse Hyper, he rehabbed and strengthened his back and was able to return to the platform and continue breaking records. He broke his back again in the 1980s and used the machine to rehab his back yet again, enabling him to continue his success.
The Reverse Hyper strengthens the glutes, hamstrings and spinal erectors. At the same time, it tractions the lower back, creating space in the disc area due to the rotation of the sacrum which creates movement and flow of fluid. It’s a strength builder and a back restorer. The back is meant to move but not under compressive loads, which makes this machine fantastic!
As mentioned above, the Reverse Hyper allows for traction of the low back. It allows for a rehydration of the discs and counters the compressive nature of everyday life. Many have had huge success with these machines in terms of rehab for spinal erectors injuries, disc injuries, or even helping to combat anterior pelvic tilt. This does not mean it will work for everyone. It does depend on the injury and the person. If you are the in midst of a severely bulged disc, it may not be wise to go into flexion – unloaded or not. It comes down to the timing in recovery and how it is used. However, with most back injuries, moving is the best cure as it creates blood flow and movement of fluids which bring healing to the area. In a rehab use, the Reverse Hyper may be best used with little to no weight and just letting the machine take you through its range of motion.
The Reverse Hyper is a real strength builder! It will directly transfer strength to large compound moves such as the squat and the deadlift. It will do so without compressing the spine. This is a great move to warm up with or be used to counter the compressive nature of some exercises such as the barbell squat.
- Being too rigid. Don’t hold yourself to erect throughout the movement. You will tense up the low back, without allowing for the sacrum tilt and traction of the lower back. On the way up arch, on the way down relax and let the back round a little getting that traction.
- Not engaging the abs. Engaging the abs will provide the support the spine needs in any movement. You need to brace your core and push your abs into the pad. Many people complain of feeling sick from the pad pushing into them. Don’t let that happen, push your abs into the pad.
- Going too high. This can be dangerous. Your feet should never go above, and should usually be below your butt at the top of the movement; any higher and you are creating too much extension. This is never healthy for a back and creates the compression of the discs which is the opposite of what we want.
These MUST be done correctly in order to achieve positive results in rehab or strength gains. Be sure to talk to a professional who can show you the proper technique with this movement, or if it’s even the right movement for you if it will be used in a rehab setting.
It may not be comfortable, but when done correctly this is one of the absolute best machines that you can use!