Improving Your Glute-Ham Raise

Glute-ham raises are one of my favorite exercises. Whether your goal is to run fast, lift heavy stuff, or simply to keep your hammies healthy, glute-hams can help you achieve that goal.

Unfortunately, the glute-ham raise is often performed incorrectly. The video above should help depict proper performance, and how to get more out of the exercise.

Here are a few key points to remember:

  • Whether you lower your torso all the way down, or simply get it parallel to the ground, is largely a matter of preference. Do whatever you feel most comfortable with. Some people prefer to get a back extension in first, and then perform the glute-ham. Again, it’s largely preference and dependent upon your goals.
  • Before initiating the movement, think about actively squeezing the glutes and getting the core tight. You want to get the pelvis as close to neutral as possible, and minimize any excessive arching of the lower back.
  • While keeping the stomach/glutes tight, press your toes into the plate and “curl” your body up using your hamstrings. Try and keep a straight line from your knees, to your hips, through your shoulders and head.
  • Don’t let your butt shoot back first!
  • Come up to a point where your torso is perpendicular to the ground, and then lower under control to the starting/finishing position.
  • As I note in the video, Lance is short-changing the motion a bit. I want you to get your knees straight in the bottom, as this develops the hamstrings through a full range of motion.

If you’re unable to perform glute-hams correctly, start with a more basic exercise like a ball leg curl first. You can use the same principles (hips extended, stomach tight, butt tight) while developing the knee flexion component of the hamstrings. As you get stronger, progress into glute-ham raises.

Stay strong

MR

BTW – if you’re serious about your performance, buy a legit glute-ham raise. In my opinion, Elite Fitness Systems makes the best GHR’s on the market today.

8 Comments

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  1. Joe –

    Why wouldn’t someone do these in-season? Especially w/so many quad dominant sports, you need to train the knee flexion components of the hamstrings to keep them healthy.

    MR

  2. Thanks for getting back to me Mike.

    From reading a post on his site, I know Joe DeFranco isn’t a fan of doing knee flexion exercises in season. I talked with Chad Smith before if I remember correctly he avoids it also. Just wanted to get your two cents on the topic!

    • Joe –

      With all due respect to both those guys, I wouldn’t leave it out for an extended period of time.

      If you read the literature, we know that two common issues with hamstring strains are lack of eccentric hamstring strength, and quad:ham strength imbalances.

      If we know that our athletes lack that, I feel like we need to develop/maintain it to keep them healthy.

      The biggest issue will be where you put them in. Do you want to do max effort GHR’s the day before a big game or sprint workout? No. But I think if worked in intelligently into the program you can not only keep your athletes healthier but keep them performing optimally as well.

  3. Hi Mike, thanks for the great content! Do any of your cues change for those of us who train in a gym that doesn’t have a GHR and instead have to do the floor based ones?

    Thanks!

  4. Mike, what’s a good method for guaging hamstring/quadricep strength ratio? Do you rely on iso movements, or should there be an optimal relationship between DL, and FSQ, for example. Thanks, Felix

  5. Hi Mike,

    I also have the same question as BJ.

    Unfortunately some gyms don’t have the glut/ham raise machine.

    I usually perform them on the lat pull down machine and place a bosu ball on the floor so I can bounce back.

    Thanks,
    Roberto

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