There are many exercises that strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back as a unit, but one exercise often gets overlooked: the glute-hamstring raise.
The glute hamstring raise, also known as the glute ham raise or GHR, is unique because it focuses on isometric glute contraction and controlled eccentric muscle contraction. This body-weight exercise provides significant muscle-building tension for your posterior.
The glute ham raise offers multiple benefits:
Builds muscle: Check.
Improves performance: Check.
Reduces hamstring injury risk: Check.
The glute ham raise is a versatile exercise that you should include in your routine if you have access to the necessary equipment at your local gym. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about glute ham raises for posterior gains.
What is the Glute-Ham Raise
At first glance, the GHR machine may look like a medieval torture device designed specifically for your glutes and hamstrings. It consists of a pad and plate to secure your feet, and a semi-circular pad to secure your thighs. By keeping your knees flexed and glutes engaged, you slowly lower your upper body, focusing on the eccentric strength of your glutes and hamstrings. Then, you use the same muscles to pull yourself back up.
It may appear easy, but don’t be fooled.
How to Do the Glute Ham Raise
- Adjust the machine so that your feet are secure and you can press back against the backboard when necessary.
- Ensure that your thighs are secure on the middle of the pad and that your knees are slightly below it.
- Keep your knees at a 90-degree angle, engage your glutes, and position your chest up, shoulders down, and arms folded across your body.
- Push your toes and feet into the backboard while slowly extending your knees.
- Lower your upper body until you are parallel to the ground.
- Pull yourself back up to an upright position by contracting your glutes and hamstrings.
- Reset and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Muscles Trained By the Glute Ham Raise Exercise
As the name suggests, the glute-ham raise primarily targets the glutes and hamstrings. However, several other muscle groups are also involved. Here are the muscles trained by the glute-ham raise:
- Lower Back: The three lower back muscles help maintain a neutral spine, allowing the larger muscles to perform their functions.
- Hamstrings: Unlike many hamstring exercises, the GHR trains both knee flexion and hip extension, which are the primary functions of the hamstrings.
- Glutes: The GHR covers all aspects of glute training. Isometrically, the glutes help keep the spine neutral. Eccentrically, along with the hamstrings, they lower the torso. Concentrically, the glutes work to extend the hips and pull the body back up to an upright position.
- Calves: The calf muscle assists with knee flexion and plantar flexes the foot, ensuring proper engagement of the glutes and hamstrings.
4 Glute Hamstring Raise Benefits
The GHR offers fantastic muscle tension for the glutes and hamstrings, resulting in a well-defined posterior. Additionally, it provides performance and health benefits, which are listed below:
- Better Posture: The length and strength of your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings play a crucial role in supporting your torso’s position and overall posture.
- Lower-Back Friendly: While exercises like squats and deadlifts are excellent for the glutes and hamstrings, they can put a compressive load on the spine. The GHR allows you to target these muscle groups without excessive stress on the lower back.
- Reduces Hamstring Strains: The GHR focuses on eccentric contraction, which strengthens the hamstrings and reduces the risk of strains during knee extension.
- Posterior Of Steel: The GHR provides a more extensive range of motion and a stretch during the eccentric contraction, making it highly effective for building muscle in the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.
Top 3 Common Glute Hamstring Raise Mistakes
While it’s important to maintain proper form, let’s focus on avoiding some common mistakes that can hinder the effectiveness of this exercise.
Avoid Breaking At The Hips
During the eccentric contraction, it is common for the hips to move backward before any other part of the body. To prevent this, engage your glutes before the concentric contraction, allowing your hamstrings to work efficiently in flexing the knees and extending the hips.
Pay Attention To Your Set-Up
Just like you cannot simply bend down and lift a barbell from the ground, the GHR requires proper preparation for optimal performance. Ensure that your quads are secured against the pad and that your knees are slightly off the pad. Placing your knees on the pad will limit your range of motion and potentially aggravate knee discomfort. Additionally, make sure your feet are adequately secured against the backboard and pad, as you will need to push against them during the concentric contraction.
Avoiding Low Back Hyperextension
Maintaining a neutral spine, from your head to your buttocks, is essential for getting the most out of the GHR. If you finish the exercise with a hyperextended lower back instead of a glute contraction, you may not fully reap the muscle-building benefits. If you do not feel your glutes engaging during lockout, something may be incorrect with your form.
Glute Ham Raise Programming Suggestions
While exercises like barbell deadlifts and squats are better suited for developing absolute strength, the GHR is ideal for adding muscle and targeting weak areas. As a result, your GHR one-rep max is not a significant concern.
Building Muscle Suggestion
To build muscle, focus on muscle contraction and ensure sufficient time under tension to progressively overload your posterior. Perform three to five sets of six to 12 repetitions, resting for at least 2 minutes between sets. If you can perform 10-12 reps comfortably without added resistance, consider adding resistance to further enhance your glute gains.
Muscle Endurance Suggestion
For muscle endurance, perform fewer sets with shorter rest periods and higher reps. Aim for two to three sets of 15 to 20 reps, resting for approximately 60 to 90 seconds between sets.