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The Reverse Hyper: Part 1 by Kelly Starrett - CrossFit Journal

The Reverse Hyper: Part 1

By Kelly Starrett

In Exercises, Powerlifting, Videos

January 27, 2011

Video Article

Strength legend Louie Simmons swears by the reverse-hyper machine he invented after breaking his back. In this two-part video, Kelly Starret explains why the device works and why you might want to put it in your gym.

According to Starrett, the reverse hyper helps people figure out how to stabilize the body while moving the hip independently. It can also come in handy if you want to get an injured athlete doing hip extension without knee flexion.

Going deeper into the movement, Starrett explains what happens in the body when you use a reverse hyper and how it can restore spinal movement and improve disc health.

9min 23sec

Additional reading: Spine Mechanics for Lifters by Tony Leyland, published Nov. 1, 2007.

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14 Comments on “The Reverse Hyper: Part 1”


wrote …

Thanks for explaining why its important & an effective tool for coaches. Filling in another piece of the puzzle for everyone.


Joseph Powell wrote …

Kelly, The word "reverse" in the phrase "Reverse Hyper" refers to the set-up of the movement not the nature of the movement (extension vs. flexion). The correct name of the exercise as I was taught is "reverse back extension" and in the 70-80's when "hyper" was a neat word to toss around....

To explain:

-The BACK EXTENSION brings the spine (torso) into line with the blocked pelvis and femur on the GHD or roman chair using the spinal erectors.

-The REVERSE BACK EXTENSION brings the pelvis and femurs into line the the blocked spine (torso) using the spinal erectors.

Here is how I explain the movements to the clients:( we have had a reverse hyper for 4 years now.)

-Back extension is the "opposite" of the back flexion (ABMAT sit-up)

-Hip Extension is the ""opposite" of the hip flexion (GHD/Roman Chair/Bench Sit-up)

- So the "reverse hyper" is just the back extension done with the "reverse" end blocked.

Does this jive with your observations?

CrossFit Prescott


Stephen Hubbard wrote …

I am intrigued by this machine but dont belong to a gym that has one. Is there a DIY version that might approximate some of those restoritve benefits?

Thanks for another awesome video Kelly!


wrote …

Stephen - DIY,
Here's a link to a DIY... if you have a power rack.
Dave Werner of CF Seattle (level 4) made something similar years ago:
Note name: "Reverse Hip Extension"

I think most DIY variations will be built off a power rack since it has typically been a powerlifting piece of equipment but, 2x4s are cheap if you don't have a rack. Also, if you've got a ledge, you may be able to get away with using a Dumbell and a piece of rope.

Best of luck!


wrote …

great video! Sherwood, K-star and Paoli are top three for delivery quality info in a way that is easy to grasp and transfer into training! More of these three please!


wrote …

Is there a body weight exercise that I can get somewhat the same movement?


wrote …

I have tried bent ove the GHD and holding on to the rollers with no weight and it is serviceable, but will be tricky get some weight on. Gong to try it with a band.


wrote …

Jeryd, we generally call them Reverse Leg lifts or superman lifts or just reverse hypers.

Lay on a pommel horse, lift heels up. You can also lay on a gymnastics block or vault table/horse. You can do a somewhat similar version on a swiss ball.


wrote …

if anyone want a cheap infomercial version of the reverse hyper e-mail me at


wrote …

thanks for the great video.
just wondering what sort of rep schemes / loads should you be working with


Frank DiMeo wrote …

Well-presented and very informative, thanks!


wrote …

It's ironic that we make fun of the isolation machines from Globo Gyms, but yet I see more and more iso machines creeping into Crossfit. Not sure what to think...

I don't see where this fits the functional movement mantra any more than a leg curl machine that has been universally dismissed.

I love Crossfit but don't like inconsistency in principles.


wrote …

Bryon- The reverse hyper targets more than one specific muscle group and helps to alleviate compression on the spine. There are multiple muscles being used in the reverse hyper...hammies,glutes,erectors. It is a functional movement vs the leg curl which targets the hammies and really is not a realistic functional movement. I haven't seen any equipment in a box that would even be considered a non-functional, isolation machine. Only other machine I see commonly used is the GHD. That is definitely functional and both "machines" increase posterior stability and strengthen areas that tend to be commonly missed. You take one of those machines into a "Globo" gym and I can guarantee the who is anteriorly dominate doing 400 lbs quarter squats with some lower back issues thinking hes a bag a chips won't have a clue what a rev hyper or a GHD does or how to CORRECTLY complete the exercise. Hence, that's why you really only see them in CF and powerlifting facilities.


wrote …

Where did u get the rev hyper that's in the video ?

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