The Back Extensions Test is a measure of the strength endurance of the muscles of the lower back, which is important in core stability and for preventing lower back pain. The test involves performing as many back extensions in a set time period while hanging over the edge of a bench.
purpose: this test measures back muscle strength endurance.
equipment required: table top or padded bench, such as found in a weights gym, stopwatch.
pre-test: Explain the test procedures to the subject. Perform screening of health risks and obtain informed consent. Prepare forms and record basic information such as age, height, body weight, gender, test conditions. Perform an appropriate warm-up. See more details of pre-test procedures.
procedure: Participants lie face down on a bench, with their upper body from the waist hanging over the end of the bench. The participant's feet must be held or strapped down, and the hands clasped behind the neck. When ready, they bring their body up to the horizontal position, then back down, moving in a controlled manner. Repeat this as many times as possible in 20 seconds.
scoring: count the number to complete repetitions in 20 seconds.
advantages: this is a simple test to perform, requiring equipment that is readily available in most gyms.
disadvantages: You are only able to test one person at a time.
variations: the test can be performed with different time periods, up to a minute. You could also perform a set tempo test, where the subject performs as many as possible, while keeping in time to a set rate, similar to this push up test.
- Isometric back strength test — hold a horizontal position while hanging over the edge of a bench for a set time.
- Upper Back Strength (Kraus-Weber) — lift up the chest for 10 seconds while the feet are held down.
- Lower Back Strength (Kraus-Weber) — lift up the legs for 10 seconds while the upper body is held down.
- Trunk Lift — lift the upper body off the floor and hold that position while the height is measured.
- The Plank Test — hold an elevated plank position for as long as possible.