September 06, 2022 9 min read
You would be excused for thinking your favorite gym doesn’t have a GHD machine, because the glute-ham developer might be one of the most underutilized pieces of gym equipment.
Somewhere among the hip abductor or adductor machine, the leg press, leg curl, and other pieces of equipment might be that one machine that serves as a sweatshirt hanger, and water bottle stand.
Take a closer look, and you might think it resembles a medieval torture device. However, it might be just what you need to help you build posterior strength and improve your stability.
The glute hamstring developer, aka the GHD machine or glute-ham developer, offers some serious strength perks whether you do CrossFit, bodybuilding, or just working out for good health. It’s true, there’s a lot you can do with dumbbells and kettlebells, but the GHD machine offers an all-in-one workout.
Building and strengthening the posterior chain of muscles can keep your body healthy, muscularly balanced, and pain-free. It can also lower the risk of lower back, knee, and hip injuries. This endlessly versatile tool can be used for more than just GHD raises and sit-ups. In this article, we’ll show you that the glute-ham machine offers a whole lot more than just GHD raises and sit-ups.
Although the Glute Hamstring Developer is designed to work your posterior chain of muscles, it really offers a full-body workout.
Its core strengthening features work the deep-set layers of muscles of the pelvic floor and other midsection and lower body muscles, and even the stabilizing back muscles. While strong core muscles help you develop a six-pack and do better crunches, they play a significant role in your day-to-day walking, bending, twisting, and more.
The Posterior Chain refers to the structures at the back of the leg and spine. In fact, these muscles stretch from the back of the head all the way down to the heels. The primary muscles that comprise the Posterior Chain are the erector spinae muscles, latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximi, hamstrings, and calf muscles.
Before doing any of the GHD exercises for the first time, ensure you have the required capacity for the range of movements.
You need a certain amount of strength and mobility to avoid injuries when you use the GHD Machine.
Use the superwoman position to test your capacity. Lower your torso until it is parallel to the floor. Now, hold that position for at least 10 seconds without moving your body at all.
If you feel comfortable, confident, and strong in this position, you're ready to do it from the hamstring position.
Otherwise, you’d be safer spending more time doing glute bridges, deadlifts, and hip thrusts to strengthen your core and posterior chain before giving it another go.
Furthermore, when you do the hip extension exercise for the first time, lower your body only a few inches, and slowly increase the range of motion as you progress over several weeks.
As you grow stronger and become more comfortable working out on the GHD machine, you can work on folding up to 90 degrees. Only once you can maintain a neutral spine without any rounding of your lower back will you be safe.
The GHD machine's benefits vary slightly from one exercise to the next, and they are adjustable to accommodate different exercises and bodies. Let’s look at the best seven. Note that the movements of all these exercises are slow, and don’t forget to warm up!
The most beginner-friendly movement on the GHD machine is the hip extension. The glutes and the hamstrings are the primary muscle groups worked here, but the lower back and calf muscles will also benefit.
Maintaining a rigid spine while flexing your hips is the correct form for GHD hip extensions.
Here's how to do hip extensions on the GHD machine.
Back extensions develop spinal erectors while also moving your vertebrae one by one as your back flexes.
Doing back extensions on the GHD machine also helps develop your kinesthetic awareness.
Kinesthesia or kinesthetic awareness is your awareness of muscular movements. It includes your sense of muscular ease or tension, movements, balance, and joint position.
This involves the vestibular system, one of the sensory systems that provide your brain with information about motion, balance, and your head and body’s location in relation to your surroundings, based on input from muscles, joints, and the vestibular system of the inner ear.
Here's how to do back extensions on the GHD machine.
Hip and back extensions help develop body awareness and exercise your back and hips.
Here's how to do hip and back extensions on the GHD machine.
The Sorenson Hold is an isometric exercise using the GHD machine, which works like a plank for your back side. An isometric exercise is a form of resistance exercise in which muscles are used in opposition with other muscle groups, to increase strength.
Here's how to do the Sorenson hold on the GHD machine.
Glute Ham Raises, or GHR, is one of the best, and most challenging hamstring exercises you can do to strengthen your hams. You will keep your hips fixed, forcing you to rely on your hamstrings to move your torso to the starting position. The GHD works knee flexion and hip extension, taking your hamstrings through their full range of motion while building strong upper legs and bulletproofing your lower body.
For those working without a glute ham machine, reverse hyperextension is one of the best alternatives to the glute ham raise because it puts the same set of muscles to work. Nordic hamstring curls are another alternative to the GHD machine — an effective and versatile bodyweight exercise that will strengthen your hamstrings and protect them from injury.
Here's how to do glute ham raises on the GHD machine.
Pro Tip: You can make this easier by moving your knees behind the support pad.
GHD Machine glute ham raises are similar to doing good morning exercises with barbells, they work the same muscles with a reversed range of motion.
Reverse hypers help with the activation and strengthening of your glutes and flex your lower back.
Here's how to do glute ham raises on the GHD machine.
Doing sit-ups on the GHD machine is considered one of the more advanced movements. This workout will help strengthen your hip flexors, back, and core.
There are three versions of GHD sit-ups, ranging in difficulty, allowing you to progress from the easier version to the most challenging sit-up exercise.
Best for new users of the GHD machine.
This exercise is similar but more advanced than the parallel sit-up.
If you want an extra level of difficulty, add a medicine ball to the GHD sit-up.
There's a reason why the top athletes are pulling the GHD machines out from under loads of sweatshirts and water bottles. This specialty piece of equipment can add some substantial strength to their posterior chain muscles, especially the glutes and hamstrings. They are even becoming sought-after pieces of home gym or garage gym equipment.
The glute ham machines do precisely what their name says — engage muscles on the backside of your body from head to heels. That includes your glutes, hamstrings, and spinal erectors. Strengthening these muscles leads to enhanced overall power and helps prevent injuries while training.
The glute ham raise has been shown to be one of the best exercises that you can perform to isolate the glutes and hamstrings. By isolating them, you can gain muscle growth in a relatively short time. Few bodyweight exercises can match the glute ham raise when it comes to building muscle.
With stronger muscles in your back, your foundation is stronger, which improves your posture in your everyday life. Whether you are active or sitting at a desk for hours on end, the GHD machine can do wonders.
Besides the primary function of glute ham developer machines, they can also work magic with your core muscles. Along with your glutes and hams, you can work your abs by doing GHD sit-ups.
Although the GHD machine offers a boatload of benefits, don’t overdo it.
The hamstrings work in opposition to the quads, so it’s important to balance hamstring-targeted workouts with exercises that build strength in the quads.
Work the GHD routine into your usual weightlifting and muscle-building regime, or reach out to a trainer to help you work out the best-balanced schedule for your unique needs.
Moreover, never lose sight of the importance of good-quality, deep sleep to give your body time to recover after strength training or powerlifting.
Rested-AF can help by working to promote increased anabolic processes such as muscle breakdown recovery and promoting higher rates of protein synthesis, in addition to improving daily cognitive functions such as mental acuity and information retention.