How to Use a Roman Chair for Building Abs

How to Use a Roman Chair for Building Abs

Last Updated on September 5, 2018 by marcyproignite


When you see someone on the Roman chair, they’re face down, bending at a 90-degree angle and are lifting their torso upwards. This exercise, the isometric glute hold and the Roman chair trunk extension, are ideal methods for building glutes and hamstrings as well as effectively strengthening your lower back along with improving your posture. And while this is a great way to tone your glutes and strengthen your back, this powerhouse apparatus can also transform your abs.


The Roman Chair is therefore perhaps one the most powerful piece of equipment you can add to your home gym. This small but mighty piece is a favorite among trainers, athletes, and physical therapists. In this blog, we’ll be going to go over some of the basics of Roman chair exercises.

First, let’s go over what you can expect when using a Roman chair.

A Roman chair is a compact piece of equipment that consists of two smaller pads used to hook your feet under and a larger pad used to rest your torso or to sit on, depending on how you plan to use the chair. Fabricated from durable, welded steel, the chair should feel sturdy and have stable footing.

The Marcy Roman Chair, Hyper Extension Bench | Marcy JD-31 is constructed from heavy-duty steel, features a durable powder-coated finish, padded handles, and two adjustable leg holders. Its high-density foam cushions and padded handles mean that you’ll be as comfortable as possible while performing any number of Roman chair exercises.

The Roman Chair Hyper Extension Bench Marcy JD-3.1 is a convenient bench for shredding fat and revealing your abs

Posture is the key. When performing Roman chair exercises, you should strive to achieve an optimal posture by keeping your core activated. It’s critical to activate your core and maintain proper posture to provide adequate support and to prevent injury.

A strong core has lasting benefits long after you dismount the Roman chair such as improving stability and maintaining your balance, as well as helping to prevent lower back pain and muscle injuries during daily activities.

An important consideration for anyone attempting to perform these home gym exercises is the health of your back. While the Roman chair is considered one of the best apparatuses to help relieve lower back pain, anyone suffering from existing pain should consult their doctor before performing any of the following exercises.

Isometric ab up-hold

Sit on the larger pad of your Roman chair and hook your feet under the foot pads. Lean back, flexing your feet to keep them securely in place until your body is nearly parallel to the floor. From here, you can achieve a number of ab blasting workouts. Simply hold yourself in parallel position for a count of ten and sit up to rest. Then return to the parallel position for another count of ten. Repeat twelve times. This simple yet effective move engages your entire abdominal wall.

If that’s not enough, add more resistance to your workout. Hold a weight plate, or add a weight vest and really fire up those abdominals. The convenience of adding a weighted vest allows you to keep your hands free while you focus on increasing abdominal strength.

Add another layer of difficulty by adding dumbbells. As you are extended to the horizontal position, contract your abs and use dumbbells to do chest presses. Not only will you engage your abs, you’ll also target your pectoralis major, triceps, and deltoids.

Roman chair sit-up

This incredible ab-strengthening exercise works your entire abdominal wall from top to bottom. Start by sitting upright on the large pad and securing your feet under the ankle pads. Ensure that you’re securely locked in place.

Similar to a floor sit-up, lower your torso until you’re parallel with the floor. Next, raise yourself up by contracting your abdominal muscles until you reach a seated position. Position your arms across your chest or on the back of your head. And if this isn’t challenging enough, add resistance with free weights.

Suggestions include adding a medicine ball, weight plate, or dumbbell. Hold the weight between your two hands and as you raise up to the seated position while you extend your arms forward.

Roman chair plate twist

Not for the Roman chair exercise novice, this high-impact, ab burner will quickly remind even the strongest athletes that we’re all only human. A word of caution for those with lower back issues, you probably want to skip this one. Unless you can successfully keep your core engaged at all times, this Roman chair exercise has the potential for aggravating the lower back resulting in a painful lumbar region.

To perform the Roman chair plate twist, simply sit on the pad while holding a weight plate and secure your feet under the ankle pads.  Once secure, lean back slightly and activate your core. While leaning back, twist from side to side as you are holding the plate away from your torso with arms slightly extended. Exhale as you twist and repeat. This exercise works the abdominal wall and upper and lower obliques.

Chair side crunches

To start, position your body sideways on the Roman chair. Rest your hip on the bench and secure your feet under the ankle pads by crossing one leg over the other and keeping your feet flexed under the pads. Keep your hands crossed over your chest or position one hand on your side obliques and one hand on your head. When you’re ready to begin, lower your torso as you lay sideways. Contracting your obliques, raise yourself up to the starting position.

As with the other Roman chair exercises, you can increase resistance by adding a weight plate, dumbbell or by using a weighted vest. Add a dumbbell extension to take things to the next level.

While lying on your side, hold a dumbbell in your upper hand and extend your lower hand to the floor. As you lower your torso to be horizontal, press the dumbbell toward the floor, after pressing the dumbbell towards the floor, draw the dumbbell back to your chest. As you raise your torso, extend your arm towards the ceiling, contract your obliques, and lift your torso up.

While performing chair side crunches, it’s important to keep your body positioned in a straight line without leaning forward or backward. The key to this exercise is to extend your torso laterally. It’s also critical that you use your obliques to maintain control. Slowly move your torso up and down and maintain straight knees to keep the hip joint stable.


If you want to develop sculpted abs, these Roman chair exercises are an ideal way to attain your goals as you’re using the power of hyperextension to activate your core with every movement. Built for daily use, allowing you to comfortably and safely perform any exercise in the comfort of your own home, a Roman chair is a perfect addition to your home gym.



The Roman Chair – 3 Workout Programs for Sculpted Abs and Core Strength. Retrieved from

Tim. (2018, March 22) Benefits of Doing Roman Chair Hyperextension Exercises. Retrieved from

Roman Chair Oblique Crunch. Retrieved from

Krunoslav. (2015, May 25) Side Bends on a Hyperextension Bench. Retrieved from

Micheals, Jillian (2017, September 13). Jillian Micheals Workout – ROMAN CHAIR. Retrieved from

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