7 Steps to Mastering the Glute Ham Raise Exercise

Learn to perform the all-important Glute Ham Raise.

Glute ham developers (GHDs) are one of the most important accessory machines a training facility can have. In my opinion, very few accessory exercises build the posterior chain like the Glute Ham Raise (GHR) exercise.

How to Perform Strict GHR (video above)

7 Steps to Mastering the Glute Ham Raise Exercise

  • Place your feet between the foot pegs and push your feet against the metal plate behind you.
  • Adjust the machine so your hip joint is directly on the top of the half-moon-shaped pad.
  • Straighten your legs fully and hinge at the hip so you are almost facing straight behind you.
  • Simultaneously extend your hip and flex at the knee to pull yourself into a fully upright position with your knee flexed at 90 degrees, hip fully extended and torso perpendicular to the floor.
  • Reverse the motion and lower yourself slowly back to the starting position.

RELATED: Posterior Power: Steven Jackson's Glute Ham Raise

Common Mistakes

  • Hyperextending and creating a huge arch to help yourself on the way up.
  • Not pushing the feet back hard into the metal foot plate.
  • Setting the machine at a length that doesn't allow you to "sit" completely up with your knees at 90 degrees and your hip extended.

This movement requires exceptional hamstring strength. If you can't yet perform a strict Glute Ham Raise, here are few regressions to get you moving toward your first fully strict GHR.

Band-Assisted

  • Hook a light resistance band around the foot peg post.
  • Get into the GHD like normal; reach back and grab the band.
  • Drape the band over your shoulders, holding the band at the top of your chest.
  • Perform the movement as described above but with a little help from a band.

Ultra-Slow Eccentric with Band Assistance

  • Hook up a light resistance band as described above.
  • Start from the top of the movement and descend to the bottom position moving as slowly as possible
  • Return to the top at normal speed.
  • Use these in lower rep sets after you have completed regular band-assisted sets, as the slow eccentric is extremely taxing.

Hand-Assisted

  • Set up as described above and start to pull yourself up to the top.
  • When you get to your weak/sticking point, place your hands on the pad and push off quickly.
  • Push just enough to propel yourself through your sticking point and finish the movement regularly.

Slow Eccentric to Hand-Assisted

  • Perform a hand-assisted GHR as described above.
  • On the way down, go as slowly as possible, again keeping in mind that this is very taxing.

Back Extension

  • Set up on the GHD starting at the bottom with your feet on the plate.
  • Extend at the hip by raising your back until it is parallel with the ground.
  • Return to the bottom and repeat.
  • This can be progressed by holding a weight at your chest or by holding a band at the chest attached to the bottom of the machine.

Back Extension to Isometric Hold

  • Perform a back extension as described above.
  • Stop at the top of the movement (when you are parallel with the ground) and hold this position for 3 seconds before returning to the bottom.
  • As you progress, you can increase the time or add resistance with a band or weight.

Perform these movements as assistance exercises in your training regularly, and you will be well on your way to performing strict GHRs. Remember, check out the video above for a visual demonstration of each exercise.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: GLUTES | LOWER BODY | BUILD MUSCLE | GLUTE HAM RAISE