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The Reg Park Prone Extension – by Reg Park

By Reg Park

The prone extension exercise has been performed for many years. I recall doing a version during my P.T. class schoolprone_1 in the early 1940’s. We lay face down on mats with hands interlaced in the lower back pulling downwards towards feet at the same time – drawing shoulder blades together lifting head and chest off the mat. Holding this position for a few seconds with the lumbar contracted. As gym workouts became more and more popular, it was inevitable that more sophisticated forms of the prone extension were introduced – resulting in the currently used prone extension bench. This is performed lying face down on the bench with feet hooked under the rollers, fingers interlaced, and hands on back of neck.
The upper body lowered head down, and then slowly raised parallel to the floor. In search of quicker results the exercise became more ballistic and even shorter in range. In addition, the use of weights either held on the back of the head or at chest level – became the vogue.
Neither the ballistic or short range movements appealed to me nor did the use of weights held at the neck or at the chest – simply because when the upper body was vertical to the floor, gravity pulling the weight downwards placed undue stretch on the lower back. After much thought the idea of introducing the base pulley came to me. I moved the standard prone extension bench over to the base pulley the roller feet under- towards the frame- and attached a rope onto the base clip.
I then took up the standard position of the exercise, feet under the roller, pelvis on the pad, gripping the rope, with my body lead towards the pulley and with a moderate weight performed The Reg Park Prone Extension. The benefits a far greater range of movement giving a more stretched position not only in the lumbar, but also on the ham strings. As well as being more practical when increased resistance became necessary. Inhale before lowering torso “exhale up” chin on chest. To give more comfort to the movement put a short padded cushion on top of the pelvis pad – and ensure the feet roller height is slightly lower than the pelvis’ ensuring less ham string resistance that occurs as the roller is placed lower. Start by using a weight that allows you to perform three sets of 15 repetitions – even if it means using one or two discs. Gradually increase the resistance and perform 5 sets of 10 repetitions.

‘ Reg Park 2005 Reg Park thanks his student and friend Alwyn Van Niekerk for demonstrating
The Reg Park Prone Extension. (Model: Alwyn Van Niekerk) regpark@regpark.net