One-Arm Side-Cable Back Extensions

This exercise very effectively works the lower back for strength AND stability at the same time, utilizing lateral loads on the body during the exercise.

It's a back extension done with lateral-pulling resistance from the cable, which immediately activates the lateral stabilizing muscles of the lower back and spine as you're doing the back extension exercise.

Here's the good involves NO twisting on the spine even though it works the lateral and rotational-stabilizing muscles. The uneven resistance on the body is what forces that activation by PREVENTING rotation and twisting.

It's an extremely effective exercise that really hit my lower back and mid-back in a way I hadn't ever experienced before and is DEFINITELY worth trying out. Do just a few sets at the end of each workout, aiming for about 6 to 8 reps per set.



To do this, you'll need a low pulley and a moveable hyper bench (45 degree one will work the best).

Set it in the center of the two pulleys (or if you just have one, set it about 4 or 5 feet away) and a little back from being in line. You'll see why it needs to be a bit back when you see the exercise in action.

Go to the left pulley and grab it with your left hand. Use a light weight for this - only a couple of notches on the cable stack, especially the first time you do it. As I mentioned, it's NOT a heavy exercise - it directs unilateral resistance through your torso, forcing the small stabilizing muscles of the spine to activate to counter that torque.

Get in position on the hyper bench as you normally would, but holding your left arm (and the cable) directly out to the side, with your right arm behind your back.

Now lower down in the bottom of the extension. Keep that arm STRAIGHT out to the side. The only function of the weight here is to provide lateral-pulling tension on the body.

Perform these very deliberately and with tight form. Because the pull is coming from the left, you'll need to push with your left foot a bit harder to maintain balance.

Once you've performed your reps on the one side, switch to the other.

This gives you a good vide of how the cable is held. Here you can see exactly why the bench needs to be a bit back from the line of the cable.

Come down into the extension, keeping that arm straight out to the side.

That's the exercise! It's performed almost exactly like a normal back extension...the lateral pulling tension is going to really hit those small stabilizer muscles of the lower back and spine and help you develop much better spinal strength and stability, while also working the bigger spinal erector muscles.


Single Dumbbell Back Extensions

If you don't have access to a cable machine or band and/or you can't move the back extensions bench to a place where you can use one, you can achieve a similar effect by holding a dumbbell in one hand.

This is my recommended source for training bands. (Note: Use Coupon Code "rbtfitstep" to get 10% off your purchase of a band package)


A post shared by Nick Nilsson (@nicknilsson1) on

The exercise is performed exactly the same. The loading on just one side of the body activates the cross-stabilization muscles we're looking to work.

I like to recommend using two dumbbells (one at a time) to make it easier to switch back and forth.


The primary exercise for working the spinal erectors is the barbell deadlift.



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