Leg Training – Glute Ham Raises

The glute ham raise is one of the most powerful hamstring exercises you can add to your training program. If your goal is to build mighty hamstrings, update your workout routine to replace much less effective leg curls with glute ham raises.

Muscles Exercised

As the name implies, the glute ham raise exercises the glutes and the hamstrings. This exercise is a much more effective than simple isolation work, such as leg curls, because it trains the hamstring at both the knee and the hip joint.


  • Glute Ham Raise Bench:You may be lucky enough to train at a gym that has a glute ham raise bench. Unfortunately, it’s not typical gym gear, and many members do not know what this bench is for or how to use it.


Glute Ham Raise Bench – not for abs!

  • Lat Pull-down Machine: Finally, you can use the lat pull-down machine by placing your knees on the padded seat and anchoring your ankles under the knee pad.


Using the lat pulldown machine for Glute Ham Raise

Exercise Technique

  • Glute Ham Raise Bench: Place your ankles between the two roller pads with your feet pressed against the platform, your knees on the lower pad 2 inches behind the thigh pad, and your thighs pressed against the thigh pad.
  • Lat Pull-Down Machine: Anchor your ankles under the knee pads, with your knees on the padded seat.
  • Begin the exercise from the upright position.

Start the Glute Ham Raise from upright position

  • Lower your body slowly, rotating at your knees until your knees and hips are in line, your body parallel with the floor.

Glute Ham Raise using the lat pull-down machine
  • Contracting your hamstrings, curl your body back to the upright position.
  • As you approach the upright position, contract your glutes to finish the repetition and lock out at the top.
  • Keep your back straight and flat throughout the exercise – do not arch it upward.
  • Perform this exercise for 5 – 8 repetitions. As the exercise gets easier, reduce the amount of assistance you use (see assistance section below), or complete the exercise using additional weight.

Demonstration of assisted glute ham raise


  • Assisted Glute Ham Raise: If you’re performing this exercise from the floor (in the smith press machine or with your partner holding your ankles), lower your body in a controlled manner as far as possible. When you can no longer control your descent, catch yourself with your hands. Press yourself back up until you can curl your body up unassisted by contracting your hamstrings.

Performing the Glute Ham Raise from the floor

  • Assisted Glute Ham Raise: If you’re using the lat pull-down machine or glute ham raise bench, use a broomstick to catch yourself as you descend. Again, press up assisting the concentric move until you can curl your body up without assistance.

Assisted Glute-Ham Raise using the lat pull-down machine
  • Weighted Glute Ham Raise: Perform the exercise using a weight vest, or holding a weight plate across your chest to add additional resistance.

Additional Leg Exercises


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