This article was originally written for STACK.
Most gyms don't have a Glute Ham Developer, or GHD.
If your gym does, it's likely misused, underused or not used at all. That's a shame, because the GHD might just be precisely the tool you need to take your game to the next level.
Glute Ham Raises performed on the GHD are one of the best exercises for developing the posterior chain. Unlike many similar exercises, Glute Ham Raises work the hamstrings through both of their primary functions—knee flexion and hip extension.
Hip extension is essential to sports performance, as it directly relates to explosive movements like jumping, throwing and sprinting. If your hip extension isn't up to snuff, you won't be able to perform those movements as fast or as violently as you'd like. Glute Ham Raises build the muscles needed to improve hip extension, but they're also a fantastic way to prevent knee injuries.
Many knee injuries, especially the dreaded ACL tear, occur because athletes are anteriorly dominant. This means the muscles on the front side (anterior) of their body are significantly stronger than the muscles on the back side (posterior) of their body. Their quads are much stronger than their glutes and hamstrings, resulting in an uneven distribution of force during intense activity.
Knee injuries often happen when jumping, landing and changing direction, because the knee cannot properly stabilize during these forces due to the surrounding muscular imbalances. Strengthening the hamstrings using the GHD can be a game changer for an athlete's explosiveness and longevity.
To perform a Glute Ham Raise, set up with your knees on (or just behind) the pad, feet flat on the platform, and trunk in an upright position. Begin by lowering your trunk, extending at the knee. Continue lowering through a full range of motion, then bend at the knee, and use your hamstrings to pull you back into the starting position.
If a standard Glute Ham Raise is too difficult at first, use band assistance to help. If the movement becomes too easy, use band resistance or add weight. Perform the Glute Ham Raise in low to moderate reps (6-12) at a controlled tempo.