Regardless if you’re a hardcore athlete or a recreational fitness enthusiast, having a strong posterior chain is an absolute must when it comes to optimising health and athletic performance. Thankfully, there are many exercises to choose from when it comes to strengthening the muscles in the hips and the back of the leg. Deadlift variations, kettlebell swings and cable pullthroughs are all great choices, but it is the glute-ham raise remains a perennial favourite amongst coaches and athletes alike.
Effective muscle-building exercises need not be complex – the glute-ham raise exemplifies this. While it does require a specific setup (i.e. the glute-ham rise machine), executing the actual movement is simple enough. Essentially, your body becomes a giant lever, with your hips being the pivot point.
Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit
When setting up for the glute-ham raise, you’d want to take note of where your legs lie. Ideally, you’d want the middle of your thigh resting on the highest point/middle of the cushioning pad. This will allow for a greater range of motion while maintaining the hips as the fulcrum instead of the lower back.
Keeping a neutral arch in the lower back at the bottom position, start the movement by engaging the glutes to extend at hips, bringing the torso to a fully extended position. Squeeze for half a second before returning to the starting position at a controlled pace. Keep an ever-so-slight bend in the knee throughout the set as this will allow some tension to be placed on the hamstrings.
There are many ways of progressing with the glute-ham raise. Once proficiency with a higher number of repetitions (10 to 15) is achieved, load via resistance bands or dumbbells/kettlebells can be imposed. Regardless of modality, some measure of tempo should always be utilised with glute-ham raises as this will prevent the athlete “slingshot-ing” the movement.
The glute-ham raise is a great option for strength and conditioning during the early phases of a General Physical Preparedness phase and can also be used for injury rehabilitation and prehabilitation. Powerlifters and weightlifters alike are also fond of it as an accessory movement for addressing weak links. If your gym happens to have a GHR machine lying around (chances are that it does), be sure to include in your regimen!