T Nation

Natural GHR


so i decide to pick up this exercise again....im so frustrated because i consider my self fairly strong for my weight....im not saying im anywhere near elite but a 410lb deadlift for a 165lb guy is ok i guess...so why the hell cant i perform a single full ROM Natural GHR without using hands at the bottom?? i started training the top part and gradually increasing the rom until i can hit at least 5 reps to the bottom....I see guys repping out with added weight on the GHR bench, is this variation much easier than its natural counterpart??
any tips regarding the topic would be welcomed.


Yes, a GHR bench is a million time easier. Very few people on the planet can do unassisted natural GHRs.


I dont have access to a GHR bench. What I do is to put one of those "half-bosu-balls" things under my knees, that seems to help a little bit. I still assist with my hands on the bottom of the movement, but I can feel myself getting stronger on this movement pretty fast.


I do band assisted NGHRs.


when honest acronyms meet racism hahaha


Much better than a natural ghr, IMO


I've tried that, but with a bosu ball to assist on the bottom. Much lower and much harder I think... really make the hams cry and after that I was walking like I shitted myself.

I'll have a go at those in the videos. See how it feels.


I could never bring myself to try the assisted version on a lat pulldown machine. But I've done Natty GHRs with the help of a band. Choke band on smith machine bar, adjust to proper height, duck into band and you're good to go. I much prefer a proper GHR bench, but the assisted way works ok. Its definitely harder.


do you guys think that these diy GHR benches are remotly as good as the commercial ones? because 1-i cant find where i am from and 2-there hella expensive


I'm doing unassisted natural GHRs with full ROM for sets of 8 - 10, and I have yet to deadlift 410 lbs, so whether you are able do rep them out is simply a matter of practice and learning to do the movement. There was a guy on the forum who had a log where his goal was to a full nordic hamstring/natural GHR and I posted my progression plan there. Here's the copy:

"What I mean is that when you are new to this movement you should use a bosu ball under your knees instead of a flat pad.

As you have experienced yourself a nordic hamstring is at it's heaviest at the lower portion of the range of motion, especially the bottom and the turn-around point. What a bosu ball does is that it makes the nordic hamstring act very much like a GHR in a machine (although heavier) by making the leverage easier at the bottom. The further down you go with a bosu ball, the further forward will the pivot point move.

I have another clip here showing the nordic hamstring done with a bosu ball, for higher reps. Notice how the pivot point moves from the knees at the top, to the lower portion of the quads at the bottom.

The way I learned the movement was basically this:
- I started in march 2010 by doing negatives with partial ROM (I began with a pad but quickly realised the benefits of a bosu ball and switched)
- When I could do the negative I focused on getting past the turn-around point at the bottom.
- After this I did low rep sets with sloppy form
- The way I went from there was focusing on progressing on form, instead of reps. I kept the mentality that 1 good rep is better than 3 bad ones. Yeah, I would push myself, but I would also stop before complete breakdown of form.
- When I could do reps with good form I started increasing the amount of reps per set.
- Finally, when I did about 15 strict reps with the bosu ball I switched it out with a pad and maxed out at about 5 good reps, which is where I'm at now.

I kept volume pretty constant and fairly low; only doing 3 - 5 sets per week. When I could do higher reps I was as low as 2 sets per week. I did deadlifts, romanian deadlifts and all sorts of other leg work in addition, so that's why. If you don't do weights for lower body you can def. get away with more volume :)"


Cool variation on GHR cyberwar. Thanks for the tip.




Just glad to help out guys :slightly_smiling: I've tried to convince a couple of guys at the gym to try them out, but no one seems to have the patience to trying them out for real and actually learning how to do them. The benefits have been huge for me. My deadlift numbers have gone up, and my hamstrings and calves have grown a lot.

Here's how I do them with a bosu ball. This is the easier version:

If you don't have access to a bosu ball you can achieve a similar effect with building up an incline support with pads, mats and stuff like that.

Here's a clip of natural glute ham raises with a flat pad; this is the heaviest variation:

iPod started acting up and irritated the fuck out of me, hence the little break at the end. If you guys decide to try out one of these set-ups make sure to tuck your sweat pants into your socks, so that the achilles doesn't get as much beating. It will still be a bit painful at first, but it's just like front squats - simply a matter of being accustomed to it.


10x cyberwar


Thanks for the video, Cyberwar. Shall try this this eve.



You will have to adjust the technique depending on your strength level in the exercise, so if it's not sufficient you'll have to start out with negatives with a bend at the hips. I think it was CT who wrote that he had seen a bodybuilder with a 700 lbs deadlift who couldn't do one, and a ballerina who couldn't deadlift her bodyweight but still rep out NGHR. Then again, you powerlifters generally have great posterior chain strength, so your base should be good.

Be patient with them. They will seem hopeless at first, but eventually you'll be able to do them. When I started out I could do the first part of the negative before I would fall to the ground. It took me about 9 months to go from there to the level I'm at now, and I still felt the progress was quick since I saw improvements each week.

Tell me how it went :slightly_smiling:


I've been doing them on lat-pull machines with a push off from the bottom (nearly have control over the full eccentric), but I wanna try these out.

The further up from your knees the bosu ball is, the easier the movement since your changing the lever arm, right?


Yeah, that's right.

Knees closer to the edge = easier
Knees closer to the center = harder

I actually tried to progress by playing around around with the lever arm, but two reasons make me believe it's not practical or effective:

  • When you move your knees more to the center instability comes into play since the bosu ball is filled with air. This is not something we want on a movement such as this since we're dealing with a load higher than 1RM (negatives in other words). Not only does it feel awkward, but it also increases the chance of putting most of the stress on one of your hamstrings when you start to wobble, and thus increasing the chance of straining something. Never happened to me, but I imagine it's possible.

  • It's hard to calibrate correct placement of the knees when you try to move them closer to the center. What I mean by that is that the bosu ball is shaped in such a manner that it takes very little to move the knees so much forward that the benefit (making leverage easier at the bottom) of the bosu ball completely disappears. If you have reached the point where you feel you could start moving the ball to get more load at the bottom, you might just as well switch to a flat pad.


Wow, tried them out tonight.

I did 6x3 at the most advantageous level and angle. I couldn't do the reversal, but if I broke the eccentric and concentric by putting my hands down, then taking them away without pushing off, I could do the concentric. I felt a lot more work in the hamstring glute tie in area then with the flat pad type. Great posts cyberwar.


hehe today a friend of mine (65kg) who btw cant even deadlift 100kg....did some semi-acceptable NGHRs....it really pisses me off that i can lift alot more weight even compared to my bw than him...yet he accomplishes it better lol