The GHD, or Glute-Hamstring Developer, is one of the best machines you can find in the gym for developing impressive glutes and hamstrings. If you've ever used one, you know you don't have to do much to feel like it's working. Part of the beauty is its simplicity, as there aren't really any moving parts - just pads and footrests that let you manipulate your body into a position to kill your hamstrings and butt.
Unfortunately, not every gym has such a device. While you can probably find one at any serious weight training gym or CrossFit gym, your average commercial gym may or may not have one. However, that doesn't mean you can't still get a killer workout for your glutes and hamstrings.
Not having access to a GHD to do glute ham raises will no longer stop you as we are going to give you the best glute ham raise alternativesbuild strengthand muscle plates to your posterior chain.
In this article you will learn:
- What are glute ham raises and what muscles are worked??
- The 10 Best Glute Ham Raise Alternatives
- Programming tips for glute ham raises and its alternatives
What are glute ham raises?
The glute ham raise is a powerful posterior chain exercise that works the glutes and hamstrings. However, the primary target muscle is definitely the hamstrings. This is because they are responsible for lifting the entire body, which means a lot of stress.
TheGlute-Ham-Raiseis performed by sitting on a Glute Ham Developer, aka GHD - a type of machine (pictured above) - so that your thighs are on top of the hip pad and your knees are directly underneath, and your feet are in the foot holder. In fact, it looks like you're kneeling during the starting position. Next, you will bend your hips while lowering your body. Go down as far as you can (so that your torso is parallel to the floor) and then use your hamstrings to pull yourself back up.
What is unique about the glute ham raise is that it works the hamstrings by performing two actions; Hip extension AND knee flexion. This means your hamstrings get a double dose of activation. Combine this with the fact that you are lifting the entire weight of your body. Now you know why it's such a great hamstring workout. At the same time, the glutes are also involved in hip extension, but mostly in activationwill come from the isometric contraction.
If this has piqued your interest in glute ham developers, don't miss our postBest GHD machineson the market today.
We've put together an incredible list of the best exercises you can use in place of glute ham raises. These exercises all target the hamstrings and glutes to varying degrees. When choosing these exercises, we looked for moves that work the glutes and hamstrings in a very similar way to glute ham raises, like this first one...
1. Nordic curls
The Nordic ham curlis the first glute ham raise alternative as the movement is similar. It basically looks and feels like a glute ham raise performed on the floor instead of using a GHD - in fact, it feels even more difficult. The Nordic curl is notorious for being one of the most challenging bodyweight exercises out there (but there are exercise regressions for it).
The Nordic Ham Curl involves simply kneeling on the floor with your feet anchored and then lowering your body to the floor while maintaining a straight upper body.If the lifter has the strength, they can pull themselves back to the starting position by flexing the knee with their hamstrings (this is a lot easier than it sounds).
While this exercise appears simple, it is extremely difficult to perform and most traineesTrain only the eccentric part of the movement.That is, they focus on completing slow negatives, where they lower their body as slowly as possible until they are no longer able to hold it. Then they fall to the ground and catch themselves with their hands.
Again, there are simpler versions of this move, with the main option being to hold onto an object with your hands to lower yourself. Aresistance bandcan be used to help with Nordic curls.
The only downside is that it can be cumbersome to set up. The easiest method is to have a partner hold your ankles while you perform the movement. If you train alone, you can set up an apparatus to hold your ankles. Many trainees willUse the Smith machineand set the bar low to "hook" the ankles.
Whichever method you choose, rest assured that your hamstrings will never feel the same again. The Nordic Curl might just be the best glute ham raise alternative.
Related:Complete guide to Nordic ham curls
2. Reverse hyperextension
A reverse hyperextension,known simply as "inverted hyper",made famous by the infamous Louie Simmons and his Westside Barbell Club. Louie swears this is the best single exercise to train the entire posterior chain for strength and powerinjury prevention,and maybe he's right. There are countless testimonials to the "magic" that occurs when someone starts incorporating reverse hypers into their routine on a regular basis. Because of this, we believe you should either perform this exercise as an alternative to the glute ham raise or on its own. It's so cool.
In an inverted hyper, you're basically leaning over some sort of object so that your upper body is supported while your lower body is free to hang. You can use dedicated reverse hyper machines, but finding these in a "regular" gym is rare. Therefore you can also use a high box, a bench raised by stacks of plates or a GHD.
Regardless of what gear you use, the setup and instructions are relatively the same. You position your body on the device so that the crease of the object is directly in front of your hips. This ensures maximum and free freedom of movement.
Next you will lower your legs all the way down. Depending on the height of the object you are using, you may need to bend your knees to keep your feet from hitting the ground. At this point there are two ways to expand your body.
- With your legs hanging free, swing them back fully straight (minimal knee bend is fine) until your torso is straight.
- If your knees are bent, you should kick them backwards as you straighten, finishing with your legs and torso fully straight. Then, as your lower body, bend your knees to allow your hips to fully flex (so that your thighs form a 90° angle). angle to the torso).
As you stretch your hips and pull your legs up, be sure to pull your torso close to the subject. This minimizes activation of your core muscles, includingIhre Erector Spineor lower back. In turn, you'll improve activation of your glutes and hamstrings during this movement.It helps if you hold the bench/handles with your hands.
Reverse hypers are awesome and can be used for a variety of goals; Strength, Hypertrophy, Injury Prevention and Rehab. While body weight is enough for beginners, you can easily apply a load using a power band or holding a small object with your feet, such as a handkerchief. B. a small dumbbell. If you have access to an inverted hyper, you can easily load the machine. Whatever you decide to do, this glute ham raise alternative is sure to do the trick.
Related:Complete Guide to Reversing Hypers
3. Leg curls with the stability ball
Another fantastic exercise for working the posterior chain with just the body; Almost. This exercise simply requires some form of exercise ball. The stability ball leg curl differs from the glute ham raise, which uses stationary legs to pull a moving torso. TThe stability ball leg curl is the opposite, itdepends on a stationary body to draw legs closer.
To perform this exercise, you'll need a stability ball and a mat to lie on if you're exercising in a place with a dirty floor. Lay down the mat, lie on your back and place the ball next to your feet. Raise your legs so your heels are on the ball and your back is on the floor. Next, pull your heels down to straighten your hips and lift your body off the floor.
With your hips fully extended, push your heels hard into the ball. This will cause you to bend your knees and roll the ball toward your body. Bend your knees as far as you can until the ball is relatively close to your butt. Give your hamstrings and glutes a nice squeeze, then let the ball roll away from your body in a controlled manner. Repeat for desired number of reps.
Don't let the "stability ball" of this exercise scare you into thinking it's too easy.It's a serious, hardcore move that will challenge lifters of all levels. The most important cue to remember is to keep your heels pressed against the ball at all times. This will ensure that you activate your posterior muscles to the maximum.
4. Reverse hack squat
The hack squat is one of the best machine-based exercises to train your legs. It's notorious for being able to target your quads with a heavy load for massive strength and muscle gains. However, an excellent glute ham raise alternative doesn't hit the quads; it hits the hamstrings. No problem...just turn around!
The regular squat is performed on a machine with a sliding sled that you support your back on. Then place your feet on the platform and crouch. Because there is significant knee flexion and minimal hip flexion, your quads do most of the work. So let's turn around and stand on the platform to face the sled/backrest to allow hip flexion to activate the posterior muscles. That isknown as reverse hack squatand they are great!
You still place your shoulders under the shoulder pads so you are looking directly at the pads. You should push your hips back to create significant hip flexion to initiate the movement. This move looks quite similar to a Romanian deadlift, except it's exaggerated and includes more squats. Because your body can't come forward due to the slide, your hips have to keep pushing back.
Come down further while maintaining a straight back. When you reach a point where you can't descend any further, straighten your torso by pushing your hips forward. Really focus on locking your hips.
Because of the extreme hip flexion and heavy loads, the reverse hack squat is a fantastic exercise to use as an alternative to the glute ham raise. Because this is a larger movement, you can use it for strength building or muscle growth.
Related:Complete Guide to Reverse Hack Squats
5. Romanian Deadlift
We just talked about itthe Romanian deadliftabove, so now we're going to talk about why it's also a great alternative to the glute ham raise. With all its variations, the deadlift is the quintessential hip-hinge movement. While the traditional deadlift definitely works the posterior muscles, we chose the Romanian deadlift because of its ability to isolate the hamstrings and glutes more. Comparing the Romanian deadlift to the traditional deadlift, the Romanian deadlift has significantly less knee flexion. This means the quadriceps play a lesser role in the movement, so the hamstrings have to compensate, and they do!
Dumbbells or a barbell both work great for the Romanian deadlift, and the form is relatively the same when it comes to using a dumbbell or barbell. That being said, barbells tend to work better when using heavier loads for strength training, while dumbbells are great for lighter weights to create lots of volume for hypertrophy.
Let's go through the form. Be aware that how you perform the Romanian Deadlift has a massive impact on muscle activation.
Set up the barbell or dumbbells, depending on which one you plan to use. When using a barbell, we like to set up low J-hooks to lift the barbell so we don't have to bend down all the way to pick up the barbell. While that may seem lazy, the Romanian deadlift generally comes after an exercise or twolarge compound exercises such asdeadliftorsquats.Your muscles are already tired, so limiting that last foot or so can make a big difference. Or you could also take off from the ground.
Stand up with your load and assume a slightly narrow stance. Generally, a lifter's feet will be slightly less than hip-width apart during the exercise. One reason is that it makes you "bigger" and increases the range of motion. It will also ensure your legs are straight up and down to get a proper stretch. Initiate the movement by bending your knees slightly, and we mean slightly! One of the biggest mistakes with the Romanian deadlift is that people allow way too much flexion in their knees (in other words, bend their knees too much). This only recruits the quadriceps as they have to flex to straighten the legs. Therefore, keep the knee bent just enough to go down.
As you push your hips back, let your torso drop down in front of you. If you hang your arms, the load should be hanging directly in front of your legs. But keep going downFocus on building tension in your glutes and hamstrings. Your muscles should be tense, really tense. However, don't bend your knees to alleviate this! You want to strain your hamstrings, so don't bend your knees.
As you descend, you should maintain a stiff back that is straight and the shoulder blades are retracted. Continue until you feel like this shape is going to break. You will eventually reach a point where your back will begin to arch and your shoulder will roll forward as you continue. Stop before this point. And remember that there is no mandatory depth as it depends on the mobility and flexibility of your hamstrings. That being said, most people will be about ⅓ of the way past the knee.
Once you reach your maximum depth, drive your hips forward to pull your body up. Again, this is a must-have exercise, whether as a glute ham raise alternative or just because you want to build some serious posterior muscle.
Related:Complete Guide to the Romanian Deadlift
6. Dumbbell Split Stance Romanian Deadlift
While the Romanian deadlift is enough to work the hamstrings and deadlift, we can make one small change to maybe make it an even better exercise. That's why we're also including the split stance dumbbell Romanian deadlift in this list of glute ham raise alternatives.
For this variant, youYou might want to use a pair of dumbbellssince your leg might get in the way of a barbell. However, some will still use a barbell, so you'll have to make that decision after experimenting. Pick up your load and then stand with a split stance. This means that your front leg is slightly in front of you and your back leg steps backwards. You will then perform a Romanian Deadlift in a very similar manner to a normal stance. However, because your feet are split, your front leg will stretch significantly more as you come down. Also, it will play a bigger role in the actual exercise. This makes the Romanian deadlift with dumbbell split stance an even better hamstring isolation exercise.
7. Good morning
Similar to the Romanian deadlift, the good morning exercise pushes the role of the hamstrings one step forward. While the Romanian deadlift has minimal squat, the good morning has no squat. This means the quadriceps have basically no involvement, leaving the hamstrings and glutes responsible for 100% of the upper body pull up. just what you need in a glute ham raise alternative.
Actually theStiff leg deadliftand good morning are practically the same exercises. The only difference is that the straight deadlift has a load in front of you; When doing a good morning, the load (usually a barbell) rests on your shoulders.
Choose an appropriate load for a barbell and raise it so that it sits on your upper back, much like you would hold a barbell during a barbell squat. Stand hip-width apart and begin the movement by bending forward, allowing your hips to come back slightly, but not bending your knees. Letting your hips come back will allow for greater mobility and range of motion, while pulling up your upper body will only involve your posterior muscles.
Keep your back straight and let your upper body come down. Do this slowly and focus on straining your hamstrings; You should feel this in your hammies more than even the Romanian deadlift!Come back down until you feel like your form is about to collapse. To get up, remember to pull your hips in to straighten your hips into the neutral position.
When choosing between Romanian Deadlifts and Good Morning… do both! However, they are similar enough that you don't have to do them on the same day. Note that the Romanian deadlift would work better with heavier loads for strength training (but you can still use it for hypertrophy too!), while the good morning is almost always used with lighter loads for hypertrophy training.
Related:Complete guide to a good morning
8. Heel Glider Leg Curls
Back to something good oldBodyweight leg exercises. Heel slider leg curls are very similar to the stability ball leg curl, except now your feet stay on the ground. To perform these you need solid floor and foot glides, small pads to place your feet on and which glide across the floor. Depending on how slippery your floor is, if you don't have glides you might be able to use a towel or even just your socks.
This move is fairly easy to describe but surprisingly difficult to execute. Lie flat on your back on the floor. Place the sliders under your heels and drive your heels in. When you're ready, drive your heels further into the floor and draw your legs in toward your body. This will pull your body up into the air. Keep pulling until your shins are almost vertical. Give your hamstrings and glutes a little squeeze, then let them slide forward.
A fantastic glute ham raise alternative that is a perfect exercise for aLeg workout at home!
9. Glute Bridge Walkouts
Glute bridge walkouts are another glute ham raise alternative that can be performed in a home workout; apart from this movement you really don't need anything but your body! Also, this is a great exercise for beginners because the load is relatively light (but still challenging enough).
Lie on your back so that your back is on the floor and your knees are bent and your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Next, simply step your feet outward in small steps until your legs are nearly straight (knees still bent at the end). The maximum length is up to you, but the difficulty increases the further out you go. Next, just go back inside with baby steps. Simply.
To make this move more challenging, shorten the steps you perform so there's more in one rep. Regardless, this is a great exercise to use if you are just venturing into this world of exercises for the first time. Nevertheless alsomakes an excellent warm-upfor the advanced lifter.
10. Hip Thrusts (Feet Forward)
The last glute ham raise alternative isthe classic hip thrust. However, to further isolate the hamstrings (since we're finally looking at alternatives to the glute ham raise), place your feet further forward when performing the movement. This effectively requires you to pull with your hamstrings to extend your hips, creating greater activation.
Set up a hip thrust just like you normally would, using a bench to press your back against it. The only difference is that you want your feet further forward. When you perform a hip thrust with the barbell, your shins are usually vertical when they're in the top position. For the knee centered version, you want your shins to actually be angled. This will cause you to pull more with your hamstrings. You still want to pull until your body is fully extended, then pause, squeeze your glutes, and then lower the barbell down.
Related:Complete Guide to Hip Thrusts
Build muscle and strength for your glutes and hamstrings
Choose from any of the above glute ham raise alternatives and you'll definitely give your hamstrings and glutes a great workout. Also notice how we have provided you with a mix of exercises to use with lighter weights and exercises to use with heavier weights. This is because we want you to have availabilitytrain bothstrength and hypertrophycreating some big strong hammies.
Related:The 23 best hamstring exercises of all time
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