The 7 best alternative exercises to the glute ham raise (2023)

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The 7 best alternative exercises to the glute ham raise (1)

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If you don't have access to ita machine for raising glute ham, no panic! In this article I will share with you what you can do instead.

The glute ham raise is aback chainStrength and hypertrophy exercises. Your back chain refers to yourslower back, glutes and hamstrings. The best alternatives to using this machine are the ones that target these muscles while allowing the knees to be bent, increasing tension in the hamstrings.


  • How to do glute ham raises without a machine
    • 1. Stability Ball Roll Unders
    • 2. Cable glands
    • 3. Good morning
    • 4. Romanian Deadlift
    • 5. Stiff leg single leg deadlift
    • 6. Barbell GHR
    • 7. Kettlebell swings
  • Summary

How to do glute ham raises without a machine

Below are a number of glute ham raise machine substitutes that work just as well, if not better.

Each exercise comes with instructions on how to do it and a demo video. It pays to use proper technique with any exercise, especially those that work your posterior chain. Improper technique can cause damaging lower back injuries.

1. Stability Ball Roll Unders

The 7 best alternative exercises to the glute ham raise (2)

(Video) "Natural" Glute Ham Raise (GHR) Alternatives - Bulletproof Your Hamstrings

This is a great bodyweight exercise that works your hamstrings heavily, but also works your hips and lower back.

How one:

  1. Lie on the floor with your arms outstretched and palms down (for stability).
  2. Place your feet and lower legs on an exercise ball.
  3. Start by lifting your hips off the floor so your body is in a straight diagonal line from your feet to your head.
  4. Roll the stability ball under you using a hamstring curl motion. Do this while pushing your hips up at the same time.
  5. Hold for a second while your hamstrings are fully contracted, then roll the ball back out so your body is in a straight line.
  6. Don't lower your hips back to the floor until you've completed all of your reps.

Recommended repetitions:8 bis 12

2. Cable glands

The 7 best alternative exercises to the glute ham raise (3)

I love this cable exercise to work your glutes and hamstrings! And if you don't have accessa cable machine, so you can do ita resistance bandto.

How one:

  1. attachthe rope handleto the lower setting of the cable machine.
  2. Standing with your back to the machine, sit over the cable, holding one end of the rope in each hand.
  3. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and you should have (maintain) a slight bend in your knees.
  4. With a neutral spine, start by reaching back through your legs as far as you can, leaning on your hips, and letting the cable lead back to the machine.
  5. Without bending your arms, straighten through your hips to bring yourself to the standing position in one quick and powerful movement.
  6. Lock your hips and squeeze your glutes at the end of the movement before beginning the next rep.

Recommended repetitions:12 bis 15

3. Good morning

The 7 best alternative exercises to the glute ham raise (4)

Good mornings are excellent glute ham raise substitutes because they target the same muscles and almost mimic the movement.but vice versa! Reviews of this exercise as is have been mixedlightwrong. However, when done right, it's a goodie.

How one:

  1. Havea barbellon your back like you would do a low bar squat - across the backs of your shoulders.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your shoulder blades pulled back.
  3. Put a little bend in your knees and lock that position for the entire exercise.
  4. Maintaining a neutral spine, bend forward at the hips until your torso is roughly parallel to the floor. (Note that this depends on your mobility through the hips and hamstrings).
  5. Engage your glutes at the bottom of the movement and pull yourself back into the standing position through your hamstrings.

Recommended repetitions:8 bis 10

(Video) Ask Al – The BEST Bodyweight Hamstrings Exercise

4. Romanian Deadlift

The 7 best alternative exercises to the glute ham raise (5)

This version of the deadlift has to be one of my all-time favorite posterior chain exercises!

How one:

  1. Swing a barbell at about thigh height.
  2. Grasp the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart and lift the barbell off the rack.
  3. Stand hip-width apart and bend your knees slightly.
  4. Lower the barbell down the front of your legs by simultaneously hitting your hips and pushing them back. This should create a feeling of stretch in your hamstrings.
  5. Once the barbell reaches your knees or just below, reach through your glutes and hamstrings and extend through your hips to return to the standing position.

Recommended repetitions:8 bis 15

pro tip: For the ultimate hamstring strength gain, perform this exercise as heavy as you can safely for fewer reps rather than lighter weight for more reps.

5. Stiff leg single leg deadlift

The 7 best alternative exercises to the glute ham raise (6)

This exercise is tough as it requires a lot of balance to perform. However, it's a great way to build equal strength, size, and endurance through your left and right sides of your posterior chain.

This exercise also offers many different progressions since you can add kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, and bands (though not all at once).

How one:

  1. Stand on one leg (if using some type of weight, you would hold the weight in your hand on the same side as your working leg).
  2. Keeping that leg slightly bent, pivot at the hips and bring your chest forward while extending your non-working leg behind you for balance.
  3. Once your torso is parallel to the floor or close to it, pull yourself back into the standing position.
  4. Complete all repetitions on one side before beginning on the other side.

Recommended repetitions:12 to 15 on each leg.

Pro tip:Keep your resting leg off the floor throughout your rep range for extra tension on the working side!

(Video) 7 BEST Alternatives To The Deadlift [Posterior Chain Strengthening]

6. Barbell GHR

The 7 best alternative exercises to the glute ham raise (7)

I'll start off by saying don't do this exercise if you don't have something suitable to pad your knees with!

However, if you have something suitable to pad your knees with, then by all means do this exercise! It's as close to the glute ham raise machine as you've ever gotten... without a glute ham raise machine.

How one:

  1. Kneel on some padding (very important) and anchor your feet under a heavy barbell.
  2. Start with your body in a vertical position, then slowly lower yourself to the floor, maintaining a neutral spine and body straight, and supporting yourself with your hands on the floor.
  3. Pull your hamstrings back to the starting position - a little push from the floor with your hands may be needed.

Recommended repetitions:8 bis 12

Pro tip:Place a bosu ball in front of you to "land" and "push off" on it.

7. Kettlebell swings

The 7 best alternative exercises to the glute ham raise (8)

The Old Believers. The kettlebell swing isn't lost on any workout—especially one where the object of the game is to get your hamstrings and glutes burning.

How one:

  1. Place a kettlebell on the floor in front of you.
  2. Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart.
  3. With a neutral spine and a gentle knee bend, grasp the kettlebell between both hands and pull it back through your legs to create momentum for the swing.
  4. With a strong hip extension, push yourself back up to the standing position and let the kettlebell swing at about eye level.
  5. As you move through your hips, swing the kettlebell back between your legs and repeat for your desired number of reps/swings.

Recommended repetitions:15 bis 20

Pro tip:The drive and power of the swing must come from your hips. You need to make sure you're moving at the hips instead of squatting by bending through your knees.

(Video) Glute Exercises Ranked | Hamstrings (BEST TO WORST!)


There are many effective exercises for your posterior chain. The exercises included in this article are a good place to start if you're looking for alternatives to the glute ham raise, as they most closely replicate the movements and muscles used.

A great idea is to incorporate one or two of these exercises into your leg day for a great all round leg workout. The glute ham raise machine isn't the be-all and end-all of hamstring training, and you'll find that many gyms don't come equipped with this machine. But you are prepared either way after reading this!

Let us know what you do as a glute ham raise substitute in the comments below!

Literature Recommendations

  • 12 T-Bar Row Alternative exercises for back width and strength

  • The 5 Best Glute Ham Developers (GHD Machines) – 2023

  • 6 lateral deltoid (lateral deltoid) exercises you should be doing

  • 8 plyo boxing exercises to add to your workout

    (Video) The 4 BEST Glute Exercises For A Nicer Butt (GYM OR HOME!) Ft. Bret Contreras


How do you do a glute ham raise without a machine? ›

There are three alternative ways to perform the glute-ham raise or nordic curl exercise without the use of a machine. You can perform a glute-ham raise with a partner assist, using a Kaiji glute-ham strap, using a Barbell Strap, using a lat pulldown seat, or using a barbell by a power rack.

Are glute-ham raises necessary? ›

Glute-ham raises are an effective posterior chain exercise.

No matter your fitness level, having a strong posterior chain is vital to injury prevention in your strength-training routine.

What are 3 exercises to strengthen your gluteus maximus? ›

Gluteus Maximus Exercises
  • Step-ups.
  • Squats.
  • Lunges.
  • Deadlifts.
  • Hip thrusts.
Sep 27, 2022

Why can't i do a glute ham raise? ›

You're not ready to perform the glute ham raise is your hips “break” from the straight line. Arched back: The back should remain neutral throughout the exercise. If your glutes or hamstrings are too weak to pull your body into the upright position, the back will arch to compensate.

How do I activate glutes without equipment? ›

1. Squat
  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms down by your sides.
  2. Begin to bend your knees, bringing your arms up in front of you and pushing your butt back as if you're going to sit in a chair. ...
  3. When you reach parallel, push up back to start with your weight in your heels.
  4. Repeat 3 sets of 12 reps.
Apr 15, 2019

Can you grow glutes with just dumbbells? ›

Specifically, you can use dumbbells to get a great butt workout. Of course, doing squats and lunges with just your bodyweight is a great way to work your glutes.

What is the best hamstring exercise? ›

  • Conventional deadlifts. Easily the most popular posterior chain movement across strength and conditioning sports, the deadlift is a hard-charging, heavy-loading grinding hamstring exercise. ...
  • Romanian deadlifts. ...
  • nordic hamstring curls. ...
  • Good mornings. ...
  • Hip thrusts. ...
  • Kettlebell swings. ...
  • Rowing. ...
  • Hip extensions & glute-ham raises.
Dec 17, 2021

How do I force my glute activation? ›

As you exhale, press your heels into the mat, squeeze your glutes and raise your pelvis off the floor until your body forms one straight line from chin to knee, resting on your shoulders. As you inhale, lower your pelvis to return to the starting position. Repeat for 15 repetitions.

What muscles does glute ham raise work? ›

The glute ham raise is a bodyweight exercise (but can be loaded) that builds the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and to some extent, the calves. It works these muscles in unison, making it a great exercise to prepare your body for athletic movement.

What exercise has the highest glute activation? ›

In general, the step-up exercise and its variations present the highest levels of GMax activation (>100% of MVIC) followed by several loaded exercises and its variations, such as deadlifts, hip thrusts, lunges, and squats, that presented a very high level of GMax activation (>60% of 1RM).

What exercises lift your buttocks with no equipment? ›

Mix 4 to 5 of these exercises for a kick-butt workout (pun intended)
  • Squat. A gold-standard glute exercise, squats are worth every ounce of effort. ...
  • Reverse leg lift. ...
  • Curtsy squat. ...
  • Split squat. ...
  • Step-up. ...
  • Leg kickbacks. ...
  • Superman. ...
  • Bridge.
Apr 15, 2019

What muscles do ham raise work? ›

The glute-ham raise is an effective posterior chain exercise to develop strength, hypertrophy, and muscular endurance in the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.


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