How to Do a Back Extension Roll

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how to do a back extension roll

A back extension roll is not only a must-learn skill because it’s in the Level 4 compulsory routine, but because it is an important skill progression. You will use a similar motion of lifting your body with your shoulders extended when you learn a back giant on bars.

So do you want to learn how to do a back extension roll?

Below you will find exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles you need for a back extension roll, along with drills to help you learn one.

back extension roll workout

To do a back extension roll, you will want to start from a straight stand. Then, roll back and with your arms straight push into a handstand. Then, step down from the handstand into a lunge to finish the skill.muscles you need for a back extension roll

Muscles you need for a Back Extension Roll

Arms & Shoulders: You will need strong arm and shoulder muscles to be able to extend your shoulders with some of your body weight on top of them.

Core: You will need strong core stomach muscles to pull your legs up and over your head and to keep your body tight throughout the back extension roll.

Exercises you can do at Home

Arm Raises with Light Weights: You can do arm raises with light weights to simulate the motion you will be doing in your back extension roll. Start standing with your core squeezed, your legs slightly apart, holding light weights in front of you right above your thighs. Raise your arms until they are over your head and do a shoulder shrug. Then lower your arms to your thighs to complete the repetition. This exercise is shown in the video below.handstand exercise


Handstand Against the Wall: Holding a handstand either by yourself, with a spot or against a wall is similar to a vertical pushing exercise, which is the motion you will be doing in your back extension roll. Make sure while you are holding your handstand you are squeezing your legs, butt and core. Start with holding your handstand for 30 seconds and work up to a minute. You can also practice handstand holds with your hands turned in, like they will be for a back extension roll.



Planks: Planks are a great exercise to work your core. You can do a plank exercise from either your wrists or your elbows. When you are in the plank position you want to be squeezing your legs, butt and core. Your shoulders should be over your elbows, and your body should be in a straight line from your head to your feet. As you are squeezing all your muscles and maintaining a straight-body position, make sure to breathe!

Back Extension Roll Drills you can do at Home

Backward Pike Roll: One drill you can practice at home for a back extension roll is a backward roll ending in a pike stand. You basically keep your legs in a pike position throughout the backward roll. This is shown in the video above.

Backward Roll to Push-Up: Another progression for learning how to do a back extension roll is a backward roll to a push-up position. You want to make sure your body is squeezed tight throughout and that you land in a tight hollow body position at the end of the backward roll.

Back Handspring Drills you should be able to do at the gym

Back Extension Roll down a Wedge: So once you’ve mastered a backward roll to push-up, it’s time to push up to handstand in the middle of the roll. It’s easier to do on an incline, so start by trying it down a wedge mat. Start standing in front of the wedge mat, roll back onto it and push to handstand while keeping your arms straight. Then kick down.

Back Extension Roll off a Panel Mat: The  next step step to learning a back extension roll is to do it from a panel mat. Start by standing on top of a folded up panel mat. You want to stand so that when you roll back to do your back extension roll, your bottom will be on the panel mat and your hands will be on the ground. You can see this drill clearly in the video above. Once you’ve mastered this drill with the panel mat completely stacked, unfold it in half and learn how to do your back extension roll when the mat is half the height.

Back Extension Roll off Block with Open Shoulder Trainer: I haven’t tried this drill or taught it, but I saw the video of it online and it looks like a good drill to practice if you want to learn a back extension roll. This drill is similar to the back extension roll off a panel mat drill, except for you will be using the open shoulder trainer.

Tools for Learning a Back Extension Roll

tools for learning a back extension roll


WedgeIt will be easier at first for you to learn how to do a back extension roll with some kind of incline, like on a wedge mat. Then you can decrease the amount of incline so that you can do it on the floor.

Panel MatYou can use a folded up panel mat to do several of the back extension roll drills above. Once you can do your back extension roll on the floor, you can use a panel mat to practice them at home.

BlockThis is the same block used in the video above to do a back extension roll with the open shoulder trainer.

Open Shoulder Trainer: Using the open shoulder trainer will help you keep your shoulders open and your arms straight while doing back extension roll drills.

Light WeightsYou can use light weights to do arm and shoulder exercises to get the muscle strength you need to learn a back extension roll.

Handstand Homework Mat: You can use a handstand homework mat to practice handstand holds and get the arm and shoulder strength you need to do a back extension roll. You also will have wanted to master holding a handstand at vertical in order to hit vertical in your back extension roll. This is a great tool to help you do that.

If you learn the drills and go through the progressions in this article, you should be on your way to learning how to do a back extension roll!

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5 comments… add one
  • Mckain July 8, 2017, 2:11 pm

    Yet another helpful walk-through.
    Thanks so much!

    • gymnasticshq March 30, 2019, 7:33 pm

      Glad it was helpful! 🙂

  • Mya Rushka February 10, 2018, 3:17 pm

    this looks so cool! I am a self taught gymnast. I wish i did gymnastics

  • A Gymnast March 24, 2021, 7:02 pm

    I have the strength and I can do it on a bouncy surface, but I can’t seem to do the back extension roll. I can’t open my shoulders. What drills specifically should I do?

  • Gymnast ;) August 21, 2021, 12:51 am

    Hi, in my experience, they don’t really respond, look at the dates. I am only a level 3 gymnast and learning the same skill myself, but I could help the best I can. I suggest shoulder stretches of any kind. Tight bridges work to stretch your shoulders. I am just so glad there is someone commenting THIS YEAR!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂


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