Thursday, January 22, 2009

Glute Ham Raise (GHR)

I think that the GHR is a very underrated exercise. Here's a video showing three variations:

Now you might be thinking that it is not a bodyweight exercise because it is on a machine and he is using weights. Well the machine is not necessary and neither are the weights. Difficulty may be increased by extending the arms from the body, or beyond that by doing single leg variations. Those without access to the machine can improvise. I could prescribe a specific settup but then you might not have the necessary implements to make that work either. So let me tell you at a conceptual level what is necessary to settup an improvised GHR:

1) something to pad the knees and shins, so the weight is distributed evenly along the lower leg as you do not want all of your weight on your knee caps.

2) a wedge that you can press the soles of your feet against and that anchors your heel or ankle from above (this can be a person sitting on your legs if nothing else is available.

Hopefully I would like to get some pictures of improvised settups that have worked well for me to give you guys some ideas. Rick suggested we buy the domain that would focus on these makeshift devices.


  1. I just discovered these the other day, and they were incredibly hard. I had to improvise, so I can only imagine that a GHR machine would make this movement even harder (greater range of motion). Too bad I've never been to a gym with one.

    I had always thought they were unnecessary if heavy deadlifts and squats were already part of the program, but the feeling afterward in my hamstrings tells me they are adding something that makes them a unique and worthwhile addition for posterior chain work.

  2. Actually, the machine is significantly easier. The portion of the rep where you are going below paralell to the ground and bending at the waist(which is basically just a normal back hyperextension) has a significantly shorter lever arm so it is easier and lets you generate some momentum for the upper more difficult part of the rep where you bend from the knees. Also the machine allows your knees to dip during the upper part of the rep which shortens the lever arm (so it's like you are lifting your bodyweight from mid to low thigh up instead of from the knee up).