Best GHD Exercises for Glutes and Hamstrings Development

Did you know that there's amazing equipment that will help you strengthen your posterior muscles besides doing squat variations and deadlifts?

If your low back, glutes, or hamstrings need extra work and you are a fan of bodyweight exercises, you'll love GHD, aka Glute-Ham Developer.

Most machines in the gym are self-explanatory, but the GHD seems complex and too intimidating for many, so they skipped it on their list without knowing that they're missing out on some serious strength gains that this machine has to offer.

This article will discuss the best exercises you could do with a GHD and how to incorporate them into your workout routine.

The backside of your body, from the back of your head all the way to the heels, is referred to as the posterior chain. This includes crucial muscle groups such as your hamstrings, glutes, calves, and spinal muscles.

Studies reveal that neglecting your posterior chain increases the risk of injuries, and muscle imbalance, which also affects athletic performance.

Unfortunately, many have weak posterior chains, and the worst part is that we may not even know it. Our desk jobs and modern lifestyle have contributed to this problem, along with the fact that anterior chain muscles, like our chest, abs, and quads, tend to get more attention in popular exercise routines such as bench presses, push-ups, and running.

GHD is a static frame that allows you to secure yourself to perform various bodyweight exercises, making it an effective solution to strengthen your backside and improve your lagging muscles.

Despite its looks, you don't have to be an elite athlete to exercise using GHD.

In fact, this machine is designed to secure your ankle, knees, and hip joints, and with basic core and hip strength, you can effectively perform bodyweight exercises using GHD.

One of the best ways to incorporate GHD into your routine is to gradually add GHD exercises to your glute and lower body exercises.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Use low to moderate reps and gradually adjust the reps as you get stronger
  • Don't push yourself too hard
  • Make sure that your hips, knees, ankles, and feet are secured in place
  • You can train with a spotter standing in front of you
  • If you are new to working out, build foundational core and lower body strength first before adding GHD to your routine
  • For progression and to overload GHD exercises, you can hold a barbell with appropriate weights to further challenge your muscles and stimulate muscle growth

Here's how to find out if you have the required strength and mobility before performing GHD exercises:

  1. Set the GHD machine, secure your ankle, knee, and hip on the pads, and ensure your feet are flat on the foot pad
  2. Lower your torso so that it's parallel to the floor
  3. If you can hold this position for 10 seconds without any pain and feel confident, then you are ready.

If you can't maintain or do this movement, spend more time doing hip and posterior chain exercises such as glute bridges, hip thrusts, and deadlifts.

Both GHD and the Roman Chair are designed to target the lower back, but GHD offers more flexibility in targeting the multiple muscles of the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, calves, and even the core and hip flexors, and offers a greater range of motion.

If you want to strengthen and focus on your lower back and glutes, you can stick with the Roman Chair first since it is easier to train with. Essentially, it all comes down to your personal preference.

Glute-ham raise

This exercise is a powerful alternative to deadlifts as it also targets your glutes, hamstrings, and calves. In fact, it has better activation of the glutes and hamstrings than most traditional exercises.

How to do it:

  1. Start by kneeling on the GHD machine, facing down with your ankles tucked under the footpads, thighs on the pads, and knees at the very bottom of the pads.
  2. Keep your body straight and engage your glutes and hamstrings to lift your upper body toward the ceiling.
  3. Keep going until your upper body is completely vertical and forms a 90-degree angle with the back of your knees.
  4. Lower yourself back down slowly
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

This exercise is very similar to the glute-ham raise setup. By hanging your waist over the front edge of the pad, you'll be able to change the focus on your lower back muscles.

How to do it:

  1. Start by lying face down on the GHD machine, with your hips on the pad and your feet secured under the footpads.
  2. Bend at the waist and lower your body upper body towards the floor until there is a 90-degree bend in your waist
  3. Place your hands on your head or cross them over your chest
  4. Use your lower back muscles to lift your upper body up toward the ceiling
  5. Lower yourself back down slowly
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps

Here’s a plan that will help you build strong legs:

This exercise is designed to strengthen your posterior chain and focus on activating your hip extensors, and it is also a great introduction to GHD for beginners.

The setup and execution are similar to the GHD Back extension. In this exercise, you need to position your hips off of the edge of the pads and keep your lower back free.

How to do it:

  1. Lie face down on the GHD machine, with your hips on the pad and your feet secured under the footpads
  2. Place your hands across your chest.
  3. Position your hips off of the edge of the pads and keep your lower back free
  4. Lower yourself back down slowly
  5. Contract your hip extensors and return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps

Despite its name, GHD can also be used to train your core and hip flexors, making it a powerful strengthening tool.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the GHD machine, and secure your foot on the plate with your toes pointing toward the ceiling.
  2. Place your hamstrings on the pads, with your buttocks hanging over the far end, allowing you to bend slightly
  3. Slowly lower yourself down
  4. Engage your core and sit up, keeping your back straight and chest lifted
  5. Return to the starting position
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps

If you want to trim off some love handles, GHD crunches can give you the perfect stimulus for oblique abs development.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your side on the GHD machine, with your legs crossed and your toes pointing to the side.
  2. Place your hands on your head or cross your arms across your chest.
  3. Engage your core and bend only across the side of your abdomen to lower your upper body as close to the floor as possible.
  4. Contract the obliques on the other side and crunch yourself back up as far as possible, holding the tension for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps
  6. Switch on the other side.

Recent studies have shown that including posterior chain exercises in treating low back pain and other spinal dysfunctions can significantly improve pain and muscle strength.

By including GHD and other exercises that focus on your backside, you can enhance your fitness and decrease your risk of injuries associated with our modern lifestyle.

Overall, GHD is a powerful piece of equipment to develop your posterior chain as well as the core muscles. Incorporating GHD exercises into your routine can improve athletic performance, reduce the risk of injury, and prevent muscle imbalance.

Whether you are an elite athlete or a fitness enthusiast, the GHD machine is a great tool to take your training to the next level and achieve impressive results.

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