Do you love the GHR but don’t have access to a glute-hamstring developer? No problem.
Also referred to as the Glute-Ham Raise and Leg Curl, or more colloquially GHR, this exercise is perhaps the most effective way to work the entire posterior chain with a single move.
The problem with the traditional glute-ham raise is that it requires a machine which most gyms don’t have: the glute-ham developer, or GHD. The exercise can be modified to perform backwards from a preacher bench or lat pull machine. However, this is a little more difficult and can be dangerous if you slip.
Luckily, there is a variation of the GHR called the Natural Glute-Ham Raise that can be performed on the floor anywhere. All you need is something you can hook your legs under.
This compound bodyweight resistance exercise targets the hams, glutes, and calves while also engaging the core for an entire posterior-chain strengthening benefit.
A GHR History Dispute
As often happens with classic moves, there exists a debate within the fitness realm as to how this exercise came into existence.
Most Russian people think that it was invented as a training move to strengthen Soviet weightlifting competitors. On the other hand, Americans credit their own Fred Chamberlin.
According to the Russian version of the story, the GHR was a long-standing (though not well documented) secret of Soviet Russian Olympians and competitive weightlifters. The belief held steady throughout the 20th century. This version asserts that the move only gained mainstream attention when the Soviets began dominating the competitive weightlifting field in the 1970s.
In the United States, we tend to attribute the documentation of this exercise to the Strength and Health Magazine. A 1950s article by Earle Lederman describes a similar move while giving an overview of Mr. Chamberlain’s training regimen.
Neither version has a definitive date of creation. Objectively, we cannot be sure which came first, the Soviet GHR or the American GHR. Wherever it originally came from, we’re glad it exists and has been popularized today.
How to Perform a Natural Glute-Ham Raise
Step 1: Kneel on the floor next to a stable, sturdy object that you can get your feet under, such as a workout machine, sofa, loveseat, or large cushy chair with a low base. You should be facing away from it.
Step 2: Hook your legs under the object’s base and engage your core as you slowly lower your upper body from the knee in a controlled motion. Keep lowering until your legs are nearly straight.
Step 3: Raise your upper body back up, maintaining control throughout the movement.
Step 4: Repeat until the desired number of reps has been achieved, making sure to maintain good form throughout.
*If this move proves too difficult at first, you can catch yourself on the floor with your hands and spring your body back up as needed until you are strong enough to do it unaided.
- Increases range of motion
- Strengthens and builds the entire posterior chain
- Increases weight-lifting ability
- Stabilizes and engages the core and spine
- Improves posture
- Increases explosive power
- Improves functional fitness
- Strengthens lower-body tendons, ligaments, joints, and bones
- Improves balance and control
- Traditional GHR
- Hand-assisted Natural GHR
- Lat pull-down GHR
- Preacher GHR
- Flexed-hip GHR
- Swinging GHR
Raise Your Glutes and Hams Without Breaking the Bank
The best thing about natural GHR is that it is extremely accessible. Taking this exercise from an best gym back to the living room is a huge game-changer.
Any piece of furniture with a low base can be made into workout equipment for this exercise. This allows you the amazing benefits of the GHR without having to procure a hard-to-find GHD machine.