T Nation

Natural Glute Ham Raise

I think why most people fail is they don’t fullfill their potential, realizing the body is a whole, not a series of parts.

In my quest for perfection, I’m really focusing on the back of my body. Mainly my traps, erectors, and HAMSTRINGS.

I would like to be able to perform that natural glute-ham raise that Thibaudeau has talked about in his “Painful Seven” article and the one Davies has as well (“Renegade Training”)

Obviously, I can’t perform a single rep…yet. I was wondering what type of progression you guys reccommend to be able to do this one day. Ultimately, I would like to be able to do them for reps with added weight. Should I just keep doing negatives and assisted positives? Sets/Reps/Frequency? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

I like to do these by using one of those cable pulldowns at the gym. Face away from the machine, hook your heels under the pads (the ones that normally press against your knees), and press your knees into the seat. The nice thing about doing it this way is you can then use the cable pulldown to “subtract” weight by holding the bar behind your head. The more weight you use, the easier the movement becomes. This allows you to gradually lower the weight until you can do reps with bodyweight.

My advice is to mix it up. Here are some suggestions below:

1. Slow negatives (on the way down): Fight hard and fire those hamstrings for 5-10 seconds for every negative. Once at the bottom either explosively push up or reset yourself by having your partner or holding device release pressure. Keep the reps relatively low (4-8) so long as your TUT for the eccentric remains constant or close to. Experiment with the amount of sets and expect much soreness.

2. Slow positives (on the way up): Lower quickly under control and use the least amount of resistance to raise up. Again fire the hamstrings and try to come up slowly, usually 3-5 seconds. Reps can be high for these type of sets (10 or more).

3. Bottom-ups: Start at the bottom (lying down) and have your partner say “go” or you mentally say “go” and fire those hamstrings explosively, with minimal hand pushing raise up. With a partner this type of change can give dramatic results. The partner should provide no pressure until he says “go”. This provides tremendous shock to the muscles and since you are emphasizing the positive portion there is less damage. Reps should be mid-range (6-12). My personal favorite is to use bottom-ups for low rep, multiple sets.

Glute-ham raises can be performed quite often and should be if time permits. Work up to doing them 3-4 times/week employing the different types listed above. Here is an example of doing Glute Ham Raises 3 times weekly:

Monday (leg day): 4 sets GHR of 4 reps using slow negatives, 1 set of slow positives of 12 reps.

Wednesday (non-leg day): 4 sets GHR of 10 reps using bottom-ups.

Friday (leg day): Same as Monday.

This is just an example and there are many ways you can train GHR’s. Let me know if I forgot to address thing or if you have more questions.

or you could just buy a miniband from Dave Tate at elitefts.com. You can use it anywhere, and it will help assist you in doing the glute-ham raises. Put the miniband around your upper body and the other end around the apparatus that you are using.

i and my training partner can do reps, me 2-3 him 5 or so. FOR US the key was to not use the hands we tried this method and it didnt help. Unlike a lot of exercises, working the negative for 3-4 sets of 1-2 negs, once or sometimes twice weekly was the key. Once you can controll yourself to 4 inches from the ground, you are about a month from the ground. From there its only 2-3 weeks till you can reverse it and come up. USE TeXTBOOK form for negs, otherwise the above numbers wont be correct. If you cheat on negs, you wont have nearly the strength to come up with good form. Good Luck. In total took if i remember around 6 months of specific ghr training. usually 1x weekly, with heavy wide squats, and 2 total hammy days a week.

The hardest part is having someone hold you down. Once you can do reps, it is VERY hard for only one partner to hold you. We use 70+ lbs of sandbag, and partner knees against GHR’s feet and pushing down on ankles/foot… still the partner often is lifted at least a little.

I’m doing glute-ham’s the same way I work on my pullups, lots and lots of negatives. It added on to my pullups slowly, and I’m betting on the same result for glute-hams.

Great exercise and a great test of your hamstring development. As “Machine” noted the NGH can be performed relatively frequently with some variances. First are you familar with many of the other Hamstring movments my athletes use? I hope to hear from you. In faith, Coach Davies

greeKDawg, reduce the ROM so that you are working in the range where you can use the best technique. Here is a post from a while back in response to Boss 14’s question that might prove helpful:

Boss 14, this is a new exercise for you. You can perform it this way: Kneel on a pad or folded towel and hook your feet under something sturdy and padded. Or you can have someone hold your ankles for you. Rotate your pelvis posteriorly (Shorten the distance between your pubic bone and sternum.) by tightening the glutes and abs. You may draw your belly button in towards your spine if this makes it easier to rotate. Your lumber spine should be flat or even slightly rounded. Not arched! Put your arms out like you are doing a pushup. Keep your head over your shoulders and look at the floor 7-8 feet out in front of you. Keeping everything tight, slowly start to lower yourself to the floor. Have someone watch you or look in a mirror sideways. You may get to a point where your technique changes. At this point, if possible change direction and go back to the start. Most people have problems on the concentric phase. If this is your case, only perform the eccentric part until your strength improves. Your body should be tight. A straight line from shoulders to hips. One unit working together. Only the knee joint moves. Neck, lumbar spine and hip joint all held isometrically. Work within the range of motion where you have good technique.


This exercise like others will do you no good if you execute it by cheating or calling on other muscle groups to finish the range. The last rep should look like the first rep. You may have to place a bench in front of you to catch yourself and push yourself back to the starting position. As you get stronger you can move to a small box or aerobic steps. You don’t have to perform a full range movement in order to recieve the benefits of this terrific exercise. If available you can perform this exercise on a glute/ham bench, two benches of the same height placed side-by-side, a wide bench or a traditional high pulley machine by turning the seat sideways if possible, kneeling on the seat with your back to the weight stack and your ankles under the knee pads. This is an excellent way you can also use the cable with a rope attachment for a counter balance if your hamstring strength is not sufficient. Or in a squat rack with an elastic band. The glute/ham bench will also bring in the calfs as well if done properly. The glute/ham bench can also be modified by the placement of the knees on the pad thus making the exercise easier of harder. Hope this helps. Write back for more info.

What other movements to you have your athletes do for hamsitrings?? if you could refer me to some articles that would be great…Thanks

I do mine on an adjustable incline bench. The tricky part is figuring out a way to anchor your lower legs. I use a strap and if works great. The incline can be adjusted to any angle to make it harder or easier. I use a thick pad just ahead of my knees. Putting it right on the knee didn’t work for me. Good luck

greeKDawg,
Some other great hamstring exercises are one-legged deadlifts, one-arm side deadlifts, and well, regular ol’ deadlifts. Try to one arm and one leg variations. Very challenging.

An excellent way to perform these is on an adjustable roman chair (the sit up thingie). The entire thing can be lowered until it is basically parallel with the floor, then the feet can be hooked under the rollers.
Its simple, and requires no assisatance, straps, weights or any additional padding.

Mike: Isn’t the roman chair always parallel to the floor?? explain…

Maybe roman chair isnt the name I am looking for…its what its always been labelled as in the gyms i have trained in…must be a NZ thing.
SOme of the places on the web call hyper extention machines, roman chairs.
This is what I actually meant - its listed as the pro style ab board on this site or the deluxe adjustable ab board

www.fit-senior.com/acatalog/ Fit_Senior_AB_Bench___Sit_ups_267.html

I dont understand your first sentence. If the body is a whole why would in your quest for perfection focus on the back of your body. Couldnt you say that the back of your body is a part and that by focusing on it you are infact doing what you perciece as the reason why most people fail.

What does the first sentence even have to do with your question?

OK guys, I put a couple of square metal weights to give me height in the back extension bench. At our Gold’s we have one of those 45 degree ones not a parallel one. Anyways, after I did that, I get the correct height so my knees will be locked then I put extra padding on the thigh pads using some exercise mats, and got started. I’m basically starting perfectly straight and contract back…sicne the bench is not perfectly parallel gravity helps out half way through, which is probably perfect for me since I’m just starting…Nonetheless, I did three sets of about 7-8 reps. Once, I get stronger, I will progress to the floor negatives, and then finally reps on the floor…thoughts??