There are actually several different exercise machines that people might call Roman chairs.
The machine most often referred to as a Roman chair is the Back hyperextension machine.
This machine comes in a 90 degree or 45 degree version.
The 90 degree Roman chair has you lie in a flat horizontal position and allows for greater back flexion. It is suitable for athletes who are intermediate to advanced, who already has ore strength and balance, and want to build the back, glute and spine flexors.
The 45 degree machine is a good machine to start with. It can also be used by people with back pain, to alleviate pain and stretch the spine. It is easier to get on and off, and does not require as much balance or strength.
In my reviews below, I highlight both types.
Roman Chair Hyperextension vs. GHD Glute Ham Developer, What is the Difference?
A Roman chair and a GHD are different.
What the GHD or Glute Ham Developer Does
Develops the hamstrings, because the way your weight is loaded on the machine places some of the load on the hamstrings.
Builds strong glutes and hamstrings.
What the Roman Chair Does
Load is placed on the lower back, glutes and spinal erectors, strengthening those muscles in the posterior chain.
Lower back and glutes work together to lift the torso, developing back and glute muscles.
Allows for deep spinal flexion that placed load on the spinal flexors thereby strengthening them.
How You Can Use a Roman Chair or Hyperextension Bench to Exercise
Using the Roman chair to build strong Glutes
Robyn shows us how to use the Roman chair to build the glutes. She uses the back hyperextension along with an isometric hold in a horizontal position to strengthen the lower back and glutes.
9 Roman Chair Exercises and the Muscles They Target
This video shows you how you can use the 45 degree roman chair to target oblique’s, chest, Biceps, spine erector and more. See how versatile a Roman chair can be.
Roman Chair Exercises that Alleviate Lower Back Pain
The Roman Chair is a good tool for those suffering from back pain. They can be used for low to mid back pain.
How do they help?
Roman chairs strengthen the core, lower back, glutes and lumbar erectors. Strengthening these muscles goes a long way to alleviating back pain.
Avoid doing weighted back extensions. The lumbar erectors are designed to lift your weight, not extra weight from a plate or barbell. I am sure you have heard you should “always lift with your legs”, and this saying applies here insofar as it means you should not use your back muscles to lift heavy weight.
Do not round the spine, keep it in a straight line, or you may end up causing more back pain.
Roman chair Demonstration
Marci demonstrates how to use the Roman chair for bake tensions and inversion hanging to stretch the spine.
She also shows how to gracefully get on and off of the machine because some of these Roman chairs can be tall and hard to get in and out of.
What to Look for before Buying a Roman Chair
Gap in the Hip Pad
Including a gap in the hip pad is especially important for men because it allows space for the pelvic area to lie flat so you can perform exercise comfortably.
The number one complaint against Roman Chairs is of these that have no gap in the hip pad.
Adjustable Ankle Pad and Adjustable Length
People come in different shapes and sizes. No surprise there. Some people are tall with short torsos. Others are short with long torsos. Others have meaty calves, while others have slender legs.
This is why the ability to adjust the Roman chair is necessary.
To work the right muscles without causing muscle fatigue and injury, you must be in the correct position and use good form. You can not do this if the machine does not adjust to your length and shape.
A Roman chair that feels solid stable and secure encourages you to use it more.
If the chair feels wobbly, like it may not hold your weight, you won’t be inclined to use it, making it a waste of money.
Look for a Roman chair that is built solid, with a wide base.
Review: This is a decent Roman chair for under 100 dollars. It is built with 2 by 2 steel beams which hold up to 300 lbs.
It is economical and sturdy enough for home gym use, especially considering you may only use the roman chair for a handful of exercises each day and may not want to invest a lot in a machine you use for a few minutes every workout.
Adjustable Height Ankle pads.
Side assist handles on the side of the thigh/hip pad.
300 lbs capacity.
Under 100 dollars.
Plywood on the hip pad is only ½ inch thick and has some give.
Review: This body solid roman chair is a little more expensive than others designed for the home gym, but that is because it is better built.
It is one of the top rated roman chairs for a good reason. It incorporates 2 by 3 steel tubes, easy to adjust pop pins instead of screw in pins which take longer to adjust, the padding is more comfortable, there is a gap to accommodate your pelvic area, and the pads are sturdy enough so they don’t give or feel rickety.
Wider base than other less expensive models.
True commercial gym quality.
2 by 3 inch steel tubing.
Assembly directions are a challenge to follow.
Best roman chair machine for commercial gym use or at home.
Review: The best thing about the Powerline roman chair, aside from the low price point, is the thoughtfully designed gap in the hip pad that accommodates the pelvic area and makes the machine more comfortable to use.
350 lb ma weight.
Gap in the hip pad for comfort.
2 by 2 inch steel tubing- sturdy.
The ankle pads move a little when you exercise.
Best home roman chair for home use and garage gyms.
Review: This budget price 45 degree Roman Bench is a good addition to your home or garage gym. It folds up so you can store it out of the way if you are tight on space, the rear roller pad is adjustable, and it has an attractive red enamel finish.
Folds up to stow away.
Under 100 dollars.
The hip pad has no gap and an be uncomfortable for men.
Review: The Gujji 45 degree hyperextension bench is a very inexpensive and simple chair with a height adjustment, handles under the hip pad, and it is folding, so you can keep it tucked out of the way when you are not using it.
It is a light duty casual use roman chair and may not be a good choice for very tall or heavy athletes.
Great for a little back decompression from time to time.
Folds for easy storage.
A bit wobbly, hip pad is not split.
Of all the hyperextension bench reviews, his 45 degree bench is the least expensive option.
Review: The Sunny Health and Fitness roman bench is the least expensive flat style roman bench of all our hyperextension bench reviews.
For under 100 dollars you get a hip pad with a gap, an adjustable ankle rest and built in handles. Keep in mind, the max weight on this bargain bench is 250 lbs and the length is not adjustable, as the bench seems best for those under 5’10”.
Split hip pad to accommodate pelvic region.
Adjustable ankle pad height.
Under 100 dollars.
Length is not adjustable.
Best hyperextension bench in the cheap price range.
XMark 45 Degree Ab Back Hyperextension Roman Chair