The GHD Machine 101: A Quick Guide

Stroll into the weight room of any gym, and you’ll find a range of devices that are fairly self-explanatory: the hip adductor, the leg press, the abductor device, and the leg curl, to mention some.

The GHD (Glute Hamstring Developer) is not like other devices. A majority of folks don’t understand how to do it, or are too scared to try it out, claims Libby Landry CrossFit Instructor at CrossFit Invictus and an associate of CrossFit Head office Conference Team. “I see GHD equipment used as a rack for sweatshirts or a stand for bottles of water more often than I see them actively being used.” And that’s a real shame because it provides some significant and ~unique~ power perks.

Join, this guide to the GHD. Below, solutions to all your concerns, plus 4 GHD movements to try—including glute-ham raising, back extension, GHD hip extension, and sit-up.

What Is a GHD Machine?

The short explanation: the GHD machine is precisely as its full names suggest: a piece of machinery that can be used to reinforce (or grow) your hamstrings and glutes. Of course, these are not the only muscles which it works on. If the unit were named for all of them—core, quads, calves, hip flexors, etc.—its term would be too lengthy for a sweet little acronym like GHD.

The Advantages of the GHD Machine

Although the effects differ somewhat from activity to activity, “in principle, the GHD machine is a great way to enhance the posterior chain and core,” says physic therapist Grayson Wickham, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., creator of Movement Vault, a virtual mobility training platform. That’s really mega given that many individuals might profit from training both muscle groups a little bit more.

The posterior chain (PC) corresponds to all structures on the back of the body—most notably glutes, hamstrings, calves, and lower and upper back segments. “The posterior chain contains what seems to be the largest, most important, and toughest muscles in the entire body,” Wickham describes.

So next time you see a GHD machine for sale, grab it and work those posterior chain muscles.

GHD Machine Exercises to Try

Persuaded to give a fair try to the GHD? Good news: “You completely don’t need to be a professional competitor to use the machine,” Landry states. That said, first of all, you need a little tutorial. Continue reading to learn 4 GHD machine drills and exercises:

GHD Glute-Ham Raise

If you believe the OG hamstring movement (deadlift, pfft) is tough, wait until you try to raise the glute-ham. “This movement is all gluteus maximus and hamstrings, and then a little bit of calves,” explains Wickham. It’s interesting!

GHD Hip Extension

This rear-chain strength movement is by far the most beginner-friendly motion you could do on the GHD, as per Wickham. “The main muscle area it works is the glute muscles, but it also works the calves, hamstrings, and lower spine,” he adds.

GHD Back Extension

The back and hip extensions seem the same. But in fact, they’re very distinctive. “In the hip extension, you’re pushing the hip progressively while maintaining a stationary trunk,” Landry explains. “In this bit more sophisticated motion, you operate your trunk while keeping your hip steady.

GHD Sit-Up

Often known as the Sit-Up Roman Chair, the GHD sit-up is an intense core exercise. They may appear like very quick sit-ups, but there are a few important variances among the two movements, as per Wickham. “GHD sit-ups place additional weight on the hip flexor muscle,” he explains, and they manipulate the core muscles through a broader range of movement than the traditional ab workout. At the end of the day, that translates to increased gains.

With all that in mind, if you’re curious how to incorporate a GHD machine to your schedule? In one term, gradually. For each of the aforementioned exercises, Landry suggests starting with three sets of five gradual and controlled reps. “It’s just like hot sauce,” she says. “Just about enough adds some excitement to your life…. too much and you’ll hate it for a couple of weeks.”

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