The 6 BEST Glute-Ham Raise Progressions for Fat Loss and Strength

by Jordan Syatt April 23, 2013

The Glute-Ham Raise: A Primer

The Glute-Ham Raise (GHR) is arguably the single best accessory lift for hamstring development.

Performed correctly, it forces the hamstrings to work in both dynamic knee flexion and static hip extension. My favorite aspect, however, is that the glute-ham raise is extraordinarily versatile. Not only are there countless possible variations but it can also be used to improve strength, power, hypertrophy, sport performance, and even injury prevention.

On a personal note, I’ve been able to use the glute-ham raise as a tester lift for my Squat and Deadlift. It’s actually pretty cool because if my glute-ham raise improves then I know without a shadow of a doubt that my Squat and Deadlift have gotten stronger as well. This is a neat trick to have up my sleeve because it keeps me in check throughout the training cycle and alerts me as to whether I’m making progress or not.

I’d note, despite being named the glute-ham raisethe standard GHR does not target the glutes nearly as much as the hamstrings. That being the case, if your glutes are your weakness then the glute-ham raise might not be your best choice. If your hamstrings are the trouble, however, GHR’s would definitely be in your best interest.

Why Write an Article on The Glute-Ham Raise?

Not only is the GHR exceedingly difficult to perform but most people completely butcher the technique. That being the case, I decided to write this article detailing how to progress from beginner all the way to advanced GHR variations while maintaining proper form.

What Are the Most Common Glute-Ham Raise Mistakes?

glute-ham raise

Glute-Ham Raise Mistake #1: Hyperextending the Lumbar Spine (Lower Back)

glute-ham raiseWatch my lower back in every video. Notice how my spine is completely neutral (i.e. flat) and that I don’t allow my lower back to cave inward?  I do so by squeezing my glutes and bracing my core as tight as possible throughout the entire movement. Hyperextending the lumbar spine will reduce glute/hamstring involvement and significantly strain the lower back. In short, it ruins the effectiveness of the exercise.

Glute-Ham Raise Mistake #2: Flexing the Hips

glute-ham raiseNotice how my knees, hips, and shoulders stay in one straight line throughout the entire movement? Again, this is on purpose and is accomplished through squeezing my glutes and bracing my core as tight as possible. Many trainees, however, make the mistake of [subconsciously] flexing their hips in order to complete the lift with greater ease. DON’T DO THIS! Unless otherwise noted, keep your knees, hips, and shoulders in one straight line the entire time.

Glute-Ham Raise Mistake #3: Neglecting the Eccentric (Lowering) Component

Trainees often make the mistake of allowing their body to “drop” to the bottom position. While this certainly makes the lift easier, it drastically reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. Use your glutes and hamstrings to control your body in a slow and controlled manner to the bottom position.

Glute-Ham Raise Mistake #4: Not Using a Full Range of Motion (ROM)

Many trainees will cut the movement short at both the top and bottom of the lift. Without using a full ROM, though, they’ll miss out on a host of benefits and continue to be weak in those end-ranges.

The 6 BEST Glute-Ham Raise Progressions

Let’s get to the good stuff!

Below are six individual variations of the glute-ham raise to use as you progress from beginner all the way to advanced.

Enjoy.

Glute-Ham Raise Progression #1: Eccentric Only Glute-Ham Raise

General Guidelines

  1. Each repetition should last about 5 seconds
  2. Perform roughly 2-4 sets of 4-6 repetitions in any given training session
  3. Perform this exercise 1-2 times per week

Glute-Ham Raise Progression #2: PVC Assisted Glute-Ham Raise

General Guidelines

  1. Use as little assistance as possible while maintaining proper form throughout the entire movement
  2. Perform roughly 2-4 sets of 4-8 repetitions in any given training session
  3. Perform this exercise 1-2 times per week

Glute-Ham Raise Progression #3: Glute-Ham Raise + Hip Extension with Momentum

General Guidelines

  1. At the bottom of the movement allow your hips to flex backwards while maintaining a neutral spine. From there, squeeze your butt hard and use momentum to return to the starting position.
  2. Perform roughly 2-4 sets of 4-8 repetitions in any given training session
  3. Perform this exercise 1-2 times per week

Glute-Ham Raise Progression #4: The Glute-Ham Raise

General Guidelines

  1. Perform roughly 2-4 sets of 4-8 repetitions in any given training session
  2. Perform this exercise 1-2 times per week

Glute-Ham Raise Progression #5: Glute-Ham Raise + Hip Extension with Pause

General Guidelines

  1. At the bottom of the movement allow your hips to flex backwards while maintaining a neutral spine. From there, squeeze your butt hard and pause with your body in one straight line. Keeping your glutes contracted, leg curl yourself back to the starting position.
  2. Perform roughly 2-4 sets of 4-8 repetitions in any given training session
  3. Perform this exercise 1-2 times per week

Glute-Ham Raise Progression #6: Glute-Ham Raise with Arms Overhead

General Guidelines

  1. Pay special attention to your lower back and do NOT allow it to cave inward
  2. Perform roughly 2-4 sets of 4-8 repetitions in any given training session
  3. perform this exercise 1-2 times per week

What Else Can You Do With the Glute-Ham Raise?

Try the Nordic Hamstring Curl which, between you and me, is one of my favorite and “best kept secret” variations.

I hope you enjoyed this article and, as always, if you have any questions or comments just drop ’em below.

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