5 Inversion Table Exercises That Build Strength and Muscle

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Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Paris, D.C on Jan. 20, 2019.

Whether you own an inversion table or are thinking about buying one, you should know that inversion therapy, specifically inversion table exercises, are among the fastest ways to get safe, natural relief from back pain.

How fast? Try 10-seconds-to-pain-relief fast.

That’s according to a study that measured lower back muscle EMG activity — which directly corresponds to muscle pain. In those first 10 seconds, EMG activity dropped by 35%.(i)

And the pain relief lasts, too.

Another study found 175 patients with back pain so bad they couldn’t work. After just eight inversion treatments, 155 of them had such good results they were able to return to full-time work.(ii) That’s almost 9 in 10.

Even the worst cases can often be helped with inversion. In yet another study at Newcastle University in England, 76% of patients were able to avoid back surgery thanks to inversion therapy.(iii)

That’s all great news for back pain sufferers, but what are you supposed to do with your inversion table once your back pain is a thing of the past too? Does it just sit in the corner collecting dust?

It shouldn’t!

An inversion table can help you work your muscles in ways you’ve never tried before.

Here are 5 inversion table exercises to take your table sessions to the next level.

Inverted squats inverted squat inversion table exercises

While fully inverted, use your glutes and hamstrings to pull yourself up. This very challenging exercise strengthens your glutes and hamstrings. Most lower back pain sufferers find these muscles are weak, contributing to their pain.

Inverted crunch

inverted situp inversion table exercises

Again in the fully inverted position, place your hands on your chest and use your abs to lift your upper body about one-third of the way up. A great core muscle workout.

Inverted sit-up

inverted situp inversion table exercises

In the full inverted position, extend your arms as if you were reaching for your feet and try to touch your toes. Some experts say that one inverted sit-up is equivalent to 10 regular sit-ups.

Inverted rotation

inverted rotation inverted table exercises

While in the fully inverted position, reach with the opposite hand to the table legs and pull yourself into rotation, then switch hands and do the same for the opposite side. This is a great way to improve flexibility and stretch tight muscles all along your side.

Increased decompression

increased decompression inversion table exercises

One more time in the fully inverted position, grab the table legs and pull down. This allows you to increase and control the amount of decompression if you want or need more.

If you are looking for a new inversion table or are unsatisfied with your current one, we recommend the Seated InLine Inversion System.

We’ve used the Seated InLine Inversion system for years, and have found it to be one of the superior products available on the market.


Editor’s note: This article has been reviewed by a member of our medical advisory board. The content provided is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult with your physician if you have any questions about your health.

Read more:

The health benefits of inversion therapy

10 simple pinched nerve exercises

Herniated disc treatments that work


i Nosse LJ. “Inverted spinal traction.” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 1978 Aug;59(8):367-70.

ii Sheffield FJ. “Adaptation of Tilt Table for Lumbar Traction.” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 1964 Sep;45:469-72.

iii K.S. Manjunath Prasad,Barbara A. Gregson,Gerard Hargreaves,Tiernan Byrnes,Philip Winburn &A. David Mendelow. “Inversion therapy in patients with pure single level lumbar discogenic disease: a pilot randomized trial,” Disability and Rehabilitation  Volume 34, 2012 – Issue 17: 1473-1480

Filed Under: Inversion Therapy, Video
Written By:

Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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10 thoughts on “5 Inversion Table Exercises That Build Strength and Muscle”

  1. matt patrick says:

    i have chronic back pain, barely could use my left leg, i have bought and inversion table and used it for 3 days, i fell like i can do the triple jump with ease now!

    unbelievable, i dint think it would do anything but i had £100 spare and thought why not. tried using it the first time and it didnt do much, but then after day 2 i felt reall good and mobile.

    anyone with back pain that cant be treated or feels like you cant do anything about….. you need one of these

  2. michael says:

    Would like to know if its safe for people who have had back surgery. I had L 4&5 fused and S1 stablization with rods.

  3. Steve says:

    Michael, As a rule, No spinal decompression should be used if you have had a fusion but with all other type of surgery you will have to consult your surgeon, as all surgeries have there specific restriction and only your surgeon will be able to tell you if you can use the treatment or not…


  4. Christopher Ind says:

    I have been doing all these exercises on my inversion machine every morning for years. I worked them out on my own and have benefited greatly. I cured my back pain and at my present age of 72 I have tight abdominal muscles and a 73cm (28.5 inch) waist. So thank you for confirming my ideas. Sincerely, Christopher Ind

  5. Elaine Perkins says:

    My doctor has recommended I try this, as I have building disc in L4 &5, & s1. Is this something I can do unaded? I am several pounds overweight.

  6. abby says:

    Elaine, I’m 255 lb and using an inversion table. I haven’t started crunches or anything, but it works fine. As long as you set the height properly for your own height, and you have no issues with arm strength, you should be able to pull yourself back up with the grips.

  7. Catherine Gichuki says:

    Inversion therapy does really work. I know it because I have tried it on my back pain. I specifically used an inversion table and I can say that inverting really helped alleviate my lower back pain. So I would definitely recommend this to everyone out there who suffers from back pain.

  8. Ruth Saulo says:

    we just bought an Inversion Machine. its been many years since I used one. I am scared to hang upside down. my husband & I are 63 years old and I have suffered from crippling back and neck pain for most of my life. I am going to gradually try the exercises shown on your site.

  9. John Russo says:

    1.I have spondyloethesis
    2. Stenosis
    3.Disk loss / compression
    Would you recommend using the inversion table?
    If so would you recommend the turning / twisting from side to side?

    1. STEVEN HBI-Staff says:

      John, No I would not suggest Inversion as your first treatment approach, I would rather see you understanding how muscle imbalances put the body in and imbalanced state and thus how muscle imbalances become the root cause of all of those conditions. There are ways to address muscle imbalances that will support your back and body relative to all that you have listed.

      Great book to start with: https://losethebackpain.com/products/7-day-back-pain-cure-book

      Thanks Steve

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