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What are Roman Chairs?

By Carrie Grosvenor
Updated May 23, 2024
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A roman chair is a piece of stationary exercise equipment used mainly for hyperextension of the lower back and general strengthening of trunk muscles. Roman chairs are often recommended by doctors and physical therapists for people who have suffered spine or lower back injuries as a method of toning the affected muscles, thereby regaining strength and managing pain.

Roman chairs only vaguely resemble an actual chair. A series of square metal posts support one wide, padded bench and a pair of roll pads. The height and distance between the bench and pads can be adjusted according to the size of the user and the exercise being performed. Some roman chairs also feature adjustable angles to allow the user to increase the difficulty level of their exercise program.

The benches on roman chairs are not meant for sitting on. To use the equipment, you rest either your back or your abdomen against the pad and use the roll pads for arm or ankle support. Since you then have to use your trunk muscles to perform any sort of exercise on roman chairs, they are the perfect equipment for toning and strengthening core muscle groups.

A wide variety of exercises can be performed using roman chairs. Sit ups, squats, knee lifts, and back extensions are relatively easy to learn and execute with this equipment. Roman chairs provide a great workout for the back, abdominal muscles, glutes, and hamstrings.

To do a basic knee lift with a roman chair, rest your back against the padded bench and place your forearms on the roll pads. Your legs should be able to swing freely in this position. Keep your back straight, and slowly raise your knees as high as you can, holding them in that position for several seconds. Slowly lower your knees back down and repeat for several repetitions.

Reverse sit ups are also easy to do with roman chairs. Raise the bench and rest your pelvis there, locking your ankles under the roll pads. Keep your arms at your sides. Using your stomach muscles, slowly lower your upper body and raise it back up again.

If you are planning to purchase a roman chair, do some research before you buy. The equipment should be fully adjustable to allow for maximum comfort and support. Adjustability is especially important if other family members will be sharing the chair, as each person will have their own body size and level of fitness to consider. Check the construction to be sure the roman chair is sturdy and durable, and the pads and rollers well-padded. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have had a spinal injury or suffer from back pain.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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