In this article we will discuss four primary benefits of the glute ham raise, which is often seen in strength, power, and fitness sports accessory programming. This movement, which can done in a wide array of sets and repetition ranges, is a potent hamstring and glute exercise for hypertrophy, muscle function, and overall posterior chain performance.
4 Benefits of Glute Ham Raises
In the below section we will discuss four primary benefits of performing glute ham raises within a strength and conditioning program, regardless of sport. Many weightlifting, powerlifting, and fitness athletes/coaches are familiar with this movement. The below benefits are not 100% inherent to the glute ham raise, as is these benefits are not the only ones that can be delivered via performing glute ham raises (rather, just the primary ones).
Increased Hamstring and Glute Hypertrophy
Glute ham raises are a very isolated approach to the development of the hamstrings and glutes in the body weight/functional movement realm. The glute ham raise has a lifter keep the knee slightly bent to allow for movement of the knee joint primarily by the contraction of the hamstring. Time under tension and a complete range of motion make this a very targeted approach to increase hamstring demands and muscular engagement for nearly every strength, power, and fitness athlete.
Increased Posterior Chain Development
The stronger and more developed the hamstrings, glutes, and spinal erectors are the more raw material coaches and athletes have to work with when looking to develop powerful posteriors. While the glute ham raise is not a power or strength lift, it does allow increases in the ability to perform movements like pulls, squats, and larger, total body lifts due to increasing the health and function of the hamstrings and glutes.
Eccentric and Isometric Strength of the Hamstrings
When discussing strength and power, we often are concerned with how much one moves in the concentric action (all of weightlifting, deadlifting, squatting, bench press). Many lifters and coaches may not take the necessary time to develop proper eccentric loading (as seen in more hypertrophy based sports) and can often find themselves ill-prepared when it comes time for heavier loads, ballistic movements, or simply the ability to resist to injury. This movement can be done to increase eccentric, isometric, and concentric muscle contractions to build a more resilient and developed athlete/lifter.
Carryover to Weightlifting, Powerlifting, and Fitness Sports
Olympic weightlifters, powerlifters, strongmen, fitness athletes, and other lifters, the sport specificity of the glute ham raise can be justified in that it accomplishes three critical aspects of performance (all of the above benefits). In addition, it can be used to increase general joint and muscle health, which can aid in the overall ability to train and recover faster so that you can spend your time doing the necessary skill, speed, and stregnth work you need to do to succeed in your sport.
How to Program Glute Ham Raises
Glute ham raises can be built into nearly any type of training program, whether for strength, power, hypertrophy, or even muscular prehab work (maybe try some of these glute ham raise alternatives as well). When looking to add these, I suggest starting with 2-4 sets of about 8-12 repetitions, for a total 35-40 controlled reps. Once you have developed some abilities in this exercise, you could increase to higher rep ranges and less sets to increase blood flow and muscular hypertrophy/endurance. I do not recommend loading this movement with weight (however you can use light weight relative to your hamstring health and abilities, or simply change the torqu angle as in the above video) as it should not be seen as a compound strength lift but rather an accessory exercise.
Featured Image: @bretcontreras1 on Instagram
Editor’s Note: Active Intell founder Michael Myer had the following to say after reading the article above.
“I think Glute Ham Raises are absolutely essential in everyone’s training program. I honestly mean everyone’s training program. If the athlete has a weak posterior chain, I wouldn’t dive into these at high volume. They can be almost debilitating if you aren’t training intelligently and working them into your program progressively. GHR are vital for injury prevention and increases in strength and ballistic power.
We like incorporating them into warmups as negatives and partner assisted movements for our newer athletes. Once the athlete has an adequate strength base in their posterior chain we like to incorporate them into prefatigue work where we will have them do GHR and then certain lifts at various weights, or certain sport specific movements. This will help them get accustomed to performing when their legs are fatigued.
Similarly, if you are hitting a plateau, focus on GHR for a a couple to several weeks. This should help you solve the plateau issue.”