If you’re looking for an excellent piece of full-body exercise equipment, the roman chair will be the perfect addition to your home gym. You may have seen and even used this minimalist contraption at your local gym, and perhaps you’re looking for one of your own.
With the abundance of options on the market, it can be overwhelming trying to find the best fit. Luckily, we’ve done the testing for you, so you can make a quick, informed decision and get the best option for your budget.
We’ve rounded up the best roman chairs worth considering and what features to look out for.
What Is a Roman Chair?
Also known as a hyperextension machine, the roman chair is a compact, easy-to-use gym device. It’s made up of a metal frame, usually angled at 45° or 90°, with two padded sections.
The main padded area is where you’d sit or lean your pelvis on, while the second padded area is where you’d lock in your feet.
Its design allows you to effectively work your upper body by securing and supporting your ankles and helping you keep your knees straight. With your lower body kept secure, you can do hyperextension exercises like leg curls, sit-ups, crunches, reverse sit-ups, and even side crunches.
With such an array of exercise options available, you’ll be able to work key muscle areas like the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and abdominal muscles. It’s the perfect machine for achieving a stronger core and improved posture, which are both essential for gym performance and increased stability.
Roman Bench Benefits
There are plenty of reasons why the roman chair may be the perfect addition to your home gym. Below are a few of the top benefits of using this nifty machine.
Easy to use
The most complicated part of this piece of hyperextension equipment is its assembly. Once assembled, you simply have to lock in your feet and get hyperextending.
Prevent and relieve lower back pain
Hyperextension exercises on the roman chair allow you to work your core, back, and glute muscles adequately. Studies have shown that a stronger back and core can help prevent or alleviate chronic back pain.
As you improve your core and back muscle strength, you’ll notice improvements in your posture.
Although this machine appears quite simple, you can do various exercises on it. From side bends and hanging dips to back extensions and glute holds, this piece of equipment can be used for a full-body workout.
The roman chair takes up much less space than larger equipment like treadmills or fitness bikes. And with some even folding up for easy storage, it’s an excellent option for those with minimal workout space.
Although affordability is subjective, You can buy a roman chair at various reasonable price points. Some, like the Sunny Health Roman Chair, are just under $100, making it an accessible piece of gym equipment.
Best Roman Chair Buying Guide
Although it’s not the most expensive piece of equipment on the market, the Roman Chair can still leave a dent in your wallet. Below are a few key things to look out for when looking for a Roman Chair worth your hard-earned money.
Because you’ll be placing almost your entire body weight on this machine, you’ll want to be certain that it won’t give in under you. A high-quality, heavy-duty steel frame will be your most reliable bet, especially if you are a heavier weight.
A stable machine is essential during hyperextension exercises. So it’s best to look for a roman chair with a broad base and quality design.
Heavier steel frames tend to feel more stable, while lighter frames may lift slightly. We also found that stability could be compromised if the machines were not correctly assembled, so be sure to follow instructions precisely.
Roman chairs come in 45° and 90° variations. While both do the job, the 90° version allows for further or deeper extensions. The 45° versions tend to be much more space-efficient and portable, with some brands even selling foldable roman chairs.
If you are sharing your home gym equipment with other household members, you may want to consider how adjustable the machine is. A roman chair that can adjust to accommodate different heights will be a more versatile option.
Hyperextension can cause a lot of damage to your back if done improperly. A comfortable roman chair is not only essential for the pure sake of comfort but also to accommodate proper form and movement during exercises.
This one is significant for male users. Some roman chairs are made with a solid seat, while others have a gap in-between. A chair with a pelvic gap will be a more comfortable option for men.
5 Best Roman Chairs
Whether you’re on a tight budget or ready to splurge, below are our top picks for hyperextension benches.
- Best for: Budget
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs
- Versatility: Good
- Price: $
As the lowest-priced item on our list, we weren’t expecting anything mind-blowing from this adjustable hyperextension roman chair. But, we were happy to find that this piece of equipment delivers excellent value for money.
We loved the high-quality alloy-steel frame and firm support pads, which made us feel secure and comfortable while exercising. We also appreciated the thick faux leather that didn’t threaten to split or tear with use. A downside of this piece was that the padded area had no pelvis gap, but overall, using it felt comfortable.
We felt a bit stuck with the assembly of the product, as the instructions were confusing. But, once we figured out which parts went where things went relatively smoothly.
We found that the best way to set it up was to lightly screw in all the components and tighten everything after. That way, we had a level and sturdy bench.
We appreciated that this roman chair could fold up to be stored away. This makes it excellent if you’re working with minimal space at home or would like to take this bad boy to work.
We also liked that we could adjust this chair’s height, allowing the entire team to give it a go.
This budget-friendly option from CAP left us adequately satisfied. We loved that it could be used for hyperextension exercises and as a GHD machine.
The alloy steel frame felt strong. However, we would have loved to see a better quality paint coating. Nonetheless, for a product priced at less than a 5th of the cost of a commercial class item, we were happy with the design.
While the assembly instructions left us scratching our heads, we managed to set up the entire machine in less than 30 minutes. We had to loosen and tighten a few bolts to level it out a bit.
We opted to use our own socket wrenches instead of the provided Allen key, which worked better to secure the bolts in place. There are also bolts to mount this roman chair to the floor if you’re confident that it’s going to be a permanent fixture in your home gym.
The most significant problem area on this 90° roman chair was the padded foot rollers. We found the pads to be lacking in quality and felt that they should’ve sat a bit closer together to really lock the feet in place.
On the brighter side, we appreciated that the machine could be adjusted to fit many heights. While those of us that are less than 5.5 ft. tall struggled to reach the foot rollers, the taller members of our team appreciated the accommodating proportions.
We also appreciated the pelvic gap, sturdy padding, and product stability. We did notice a bit of lift on the rear when doing roman chair sit-ups. But we mitigated this by placing two weighted bags over the feet.
- Best for: Value for money
- Weight capacity: 308 lbs
- Versatility: Great
- Price: $$
For us, the most impressive part about the Marcy roman chair was the black powder-coated steel frame. This heavy-duty piece of equipment was also super easy to assemble — taking us less than 20 minutes.
The high-density foam seat was of great quality, but our male team members wished that there was a gap in the seat. We also found the height-adjustable foam leg pins to be of excellent quality. Yet, we would have preferred the four-pin leg rollers instead, as our feet would drop down during seated sit-ups.
The padded handles were the main let-down of this machine, as its quality didn’t align with the rest of the sturdy machine.
When it comes to design, the height of this machine was a bit inconvenient for us shorter testers. We found the Marcy roman chair to stand much too high up and wished it had a built-in step to help get onto the seat. We improvised and used a yoga block as a step up.
We also noticed that this machine has a slight tilt during sit-ups. But, since it only weighs 42 pounds, we weren’t expecting it to hold up like a gym-level roman chair. With a few weighted bags on the rear, even those of us over 200 lbs felt stable.
- Best for: Versatility
- Weight capacity: 650 lbs
- Versatility: Excellent
- Price: $$
We loved this Fitness Reality roman-chair-meets-lifting-bench for the versatility it offers. This piece of equipment would do great if you’re short on space and are looking for something that accommodates more workouts.
We also appreciated the wheels, which allowed us to move and store it out of the way easily. With its adjustability, we were hoping it would fold down to be stored, but this was a minimal downside.
Assembly was an absolute breeze, with the hardware being organized in separate packages according to assembly stages. The machine was set up and ready to test in less than 30 minutes.
We found the 2.5” medium density foam padding to provide incredible support and cushioning. That being said, the bench did not feel as stable as we would have liked, making us feel especially wobbly when on our backs. While the bench did have a wobble to it, it was not enough to leave us feeling unsafe.
Taller members of our team also found the bench to be slightly too short. But, since we were more focused on hyperextension exercises, which we managed with ease, we weren’t too irked by the bench length.
- Best for: Durability
- Weight capacity: Unknown
- Versatility: Good
- Price: $$$
If you’re looking for something that’ll outlast you and have a bit of money to splurge, the Body Solid bench should be your first choice. Body Solid didn’t provide any maximum weight capacity, but with commercial-grade heavy gauge steel and extra-thick padding, we’re confident this machine will support most weights.
As the name implies, this hyperextension bench has a rock-solid foundation and feel. We found this machine to be right up there with commercial gym equipment, making the price much more justified.
Although the padded seat is height adjustable, this machine was simply too tall for those of us under 5.5 ft. — even at the lowest setting. While this may be a limitation, the taller testers appreciated the generous height accommodation and felt severely stable during hyperextensions.
We were skeptical about the flat footrest instead of padded foot pegs but found it much more convenient for changing into different exercise positions. The gap in the seat was also a much-appreciated addition.
Although requiring a bit of elbow grease, assembly was straightforward and took us less than an hour. This machine didn’t come with any assembly tools, so you may have to get your hands on a wrench to set it up. The device also came with touch-up paint, a thoughtful and helpful addition.
Roman Chair Exercise Options
The roman chair can be used for a range of different exercises and is excellent for effectively activating your muscles. However, as with any gym equipment, there are a few safety tips that you should keep in mind.
- You’ll be extending your head to below your body, causing a rush of blood to the area, so be sure to stop if you start feeling lightheaded.
- The key to fully activating your muscles is to keep your core engaged at all times. This also ensures that you’re maintaining correct posture, which will help prevent injury to your back.
- Be sure to keep your back straight. If you notice your back bending or curving inward, your core is not actively engaged, and you risk injuring yourself.
- Don’t rush your movements. Take your time and focus on maintaining proper posture for a safe and effective hyperextension workout.
If you keep these safety tips in mind, you’ll achieve excellent results with the following roman chair exercise options.
- Glute hold
- Trunk extensions (with or without weights)
- Back extensions
- Incline pushups
- Roman chair twists
- Side bends (with or without weights)
- Twisting and normal hyperextensions
Best Roman Chair Summary
There’s no doubt that the roman chair is a highly effective piece of exercise equipment. While its design may seem simple, the possibilities are endless with this machine. And with its relatively low price point, the roman chair is the ideal addition to any home gym.
If you’re more interested in developing your glutes and hamstrings, a GHD machine may be a better fit for you. Have a look at our top selection of GHD machines to find the one best suited to you.