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What's Happening -- Revising History -- The Reverse Back Extension Machine

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In the May/June 2009 Issue of BFS Magazine, we presented what we thought was a complete history of the Reverse Back Extension Machine. However, after receiving a letter from Tony Dolezel of Vancouver in February, we’ve learned that our article was missing some information.

The reverse back extension exercise has a long history, and variations of this exercise with resistance over a pommel horse appear in Hungarian and East German gymnastic books. In 1993 the first patent for a machine was approved, which applied resistance by the use of a strap that wrapped around the ankles.

Years later, a roller pad attached to a lever arm was used, and this is the Variation Offered by BFS. Dolezel, however, believes that he developed the first working prototype of a reverse back extension machine.

In 1976 Dolezel seriously injured his lower back while performing the "good morning" exercise in preparation for the Canadian National Powerlifting Championships. Says Dolezel:

"Frustrated, and afraid I might have to live with chronic pain…I began looking around for something that could help me stretch and decompress my lower back."

What he found was the reverse back extension exercise; and as he got stronger, he looked for ways to add resistance.

"At first, I suspended weights from my ankles with ropes, but this was time consuming and uncomfortable…. In time my back got so strong, I began using gym members for resistance."

Then he got the idea of developing a machine specifically for this exercise.

"On December 2, 1979, I joined the Spartacus Athletic Club in Vancouver, BC, Canada. There was no high bench in the gym, so I asked the owners (Dennis Carson and David Madison) if I could install a 'Double Hyperextension' bench."

They agreed, and Dolezel contracted the building of the first reverse back extension machine to a Mr. Roger Black, which was installed on December 13, 1979.

"To my knowledge, this was the first bench ever made for the reverse hyperextension exercise," says Dolezel.

Currently Dolezel is living a pain-free life but regrets not being the first to have his machine put on the market. Shown above is a 1979 photo of Mr. Dolezel’s machine, and you can learn more about his experiences at

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