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7 Best Glute Ham Raise Alternatives

Glute Ham Raise

Glute ham raises are an exercise used to work the major muscle groups of the posterior chain. Muscles in this area include the glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Glute ham raises are performed by lying face down on a GHD machine, similar to a bench press bench, with your hips bent at 90 degrees. A pad is behind your ankles for support. Your arms are outstretched along the same side as your legs.

The glute-ham raise works to strengthen muscles that are important for posture because they oppose anterior pelvic tilt (anterior pelvic tilt is when there is too much curve in one’s lower back due to tight hip flexors). People who sit too much during their day have weak glutes relative to stronger hamstring muscles which is why glute ham raises are sometimes included in injury prevention programs.

While this is a great exercise, there are some other glute-ham raise alternatives that you shouldn’t overlook.

But first, let’s take a look at the main benefits of the glute-ham raise exercise.

10 Benefits Of Glute Ham Raise Exercise

There are a large number of benefits to doing glute ham raises. The 10 most important ones are:

1. Glute Ham Raises Promote Posture Improvement

Glute ham raises strengthen the muscles in the posterior chain including the glutes, calves, and hamstring muscles. When these three muscle groups are strengthened they prevent anterior pelvic tilt which is when one has too much curve in their lower back due to tight hip flexors that pull the front of the pelvis forward.

2. Glute Ham Raises Aid In Injury Prevention Programs

Injury prevention programs often include a component of strengthening the glutes which helps correct anterior pelvic tilt and prevent injuries associated with it such as having sciatica or experiencing hamstring tightness because your injury risk is lowered.

3. Glute Ham Raises Build Balance And Coordination

Performing glute ham raises works to build coordination in the body because it is necessary to have upper body strength in order to be able to lower one’s torso while simultaneously using their hamstrings and calves.

4. Glute Ham Raises Work More Than Just The Posterior Chain Muscles

Glute ham raises work more than three muscles of the posterior chain, they also help strengthen iliopsoas muscles which are responsible for hip flexion. When one has strong glutes they will have better balance when trying things like squats or deadlifts that require a great deal of core power. Additionally, strengthening these two groups can prevent pain associated with an ailing iliopsoas muscle.

5. Glute Ham Raises Increase Core Power

Glute ham raises build the core muscles of the body in order to hold one’s torso up while using their glutes and hamstrings to perform repetitions in a controlled manner. Having a strong core increases balance when performing functional movements which in turn will help prevent injury. They also improve their ability when it comes to lifting heavy weights with good form because power is increased from having a stronger core.

6. Glute Ham Raises Improve Vertical Jumping Ability

Performing glute ham raises helps strengthen not just muscles on the posterior chain, but they can improve vertical jump height because of this strengthening effect that they have on the lower back muscles.

7. Glute Ham Raises Improve Olympic Lifts And Snatches

The glute-ham raise is an exercise that can help build the muscles needed for power snatching and power cleans because they are both explosive, high-intensity movements that have a need for great amounts of hamstring strength. These two exercises require one to be able to explosively move their body weight against resistance which involves using muscles in the posterior chain.

8. Glute Ham Raises Reduce The Risk Of Injury

Glute ham raises are used by many trainers as part of injury prevention programs because they lower your risk of experiencing pain associated with tightness or tension in the back caused by having weak glutes relative to stronger hamstring muscles.

9. Glute Ham Raises Help With Hypertrophy

When one works on glute ham raises they are targeting the hamstrings and calves which means that these muscles will be worked with less overall exposure to hypertrophy. As a result of this, performing glute ham raises can help improve the size of your back muscles.

10. Glute Ham Raises Improve Hip Extension Ability

Performing glute ham raises builds strength in your hip extensors which is what allows you to lower your torso down while simultaneously lifting it up during the course of an explosive movement such as a clean or snatch. This also prevents strain on the lumbar spine area because stability is increased throughout the entire posterior chain.

There are many benefits to doing glute ham raises which is why they are often included in training programs that work on hamstring strength. Glute ham raises build not just strength but explosiveness, balance, coordination, power and endurance. They are also used to reduce the risk of injuries caused by having poor hamstring strength relative to glutes. Being able to perform glute ham raises also improves your ability when it comes to Olympic weightlifting because you develop the muscle groups needed for this explosive movement through targeted exercise.

Glute Ham Raise Alternatives

Some of them are done better than GHRs and some aren’t as good. Here we will look at 7 budget-friendly alternatives:

  1. Hip Thrusts
  2. Nordic curls
  3. Single leg RDLs
  4. Stability ball leg curls
  5. Cable pull-throughs
  6. Kettlebell swing
  7. Reverse hyperextension

1. Hip Thrusts

Hip thrusts are a great glute-ham raise alternative. It activates major muscles of your posterior chain like glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Apart from that, it also works your hip adductors and your core.

How to perform the exercise:

  • Place either a squat pad or an airex pad underneath a weighted barbell.
  • To increase tension, dig your traps into the side of the bench and keep your chest high.
  • With your toes raised and knees bent, place your feet further out than immediately under your knees.
  • Maintain the beginning position by elevating the bar with your hips at 90 degrees.
  • Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings as you drive your hips up to full extension.
  • Bend the hips back to 90 degrees to return to the starting position.

2. Nordic Curls

If you want to strengthen your hamstrings, the Nordic curl is a great option. The Nordic curl is a versatile and effective bodyweight exercise that is a great alternative to the glute ham raise in terms of strengthening your hamstrings and avoiding injuries. They’ll also engage your arms, chest, and shoulders, which is an additional benefit.

The Nordic curl is an excellent alternative for working out in the park or at home in your garage gym. Because the workout targets your hamstrings, you should expect to do fewer repetitions.

How to perform the exercise:

  • Rest both of your knees on an airex or foam pad to make this exericse more easy on your knees.
  • You can ask a partner to hold down both of your heels firmly.
  • If you don’t have a partner, place both of your feet under a firm surface that can support a lot of weight.
  • Maintain a standing position with your torso parallel to the ground and your knees bent at 90 degrees.
  • Slowly lean forward while maintaining a straight line throughout your back, glutes and hamstrings. Try to resist the movement by engaging your hamstrings.
  • To return to the beginning posture, gently push yourself away from the ground while pulling through your heels.

3. Single-Leg RDLs

The single-leg Romanian deadlift (single-leg RDL) is a vertical hip-hinge movement that requires you to balance on one leg, hinge at the hips, descend your body until it’s virtually parallel to the floor, and then reverse the movement to return to your starting position.

This exercise will engage your glutes and hamstrings as well as your calves. Because the exercise is performed while standing on 1 leg, it will also train your stability.

How to perform the exercise:

  • Stand on one leg. If you will be performing this exercise with additional weight, hold it in the opposite hand.
  • Keep a slight bend in your knee on your working leg. Slowly start a hinging motion in the hip, keep your chest up and extend the non-working leg behind you.
  • Once your body is parallel to the ground, pull yourself back up by using your glutes and hamstrings.

4. Stability Ball Leg Curls

Stability ball leg curls are another great exercise for your posterior chain: glutes, hamstrings, and your lower back. Just like many other of the previous exercises, it will also train your stability.

To perform this exercise you will need a swiss ball.

How to perform the exercise:

  • Place a stability ball under your heels and lay on the floor with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Extend your hips so that the ball can hold your entire body weight.
  • Curl back your heels until your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Return to the starting posture of the exercise by straightening your legs.

5. Cable Pull-Throughs

A cable pull-through is another exercise that works similar muscles as the glute-ham raise. It requires a cable machine to perform, but you can also use a resistance band and anchor it to something low to perform a similar movement.

A great advantage of the cable pull-through exercise is that it keeps the tension on the target muscles at the end of the exercise movement.

How to perform the exercise:

  • Attach the rope to the cable machine’s lower setting. Hold one side of the rope in each hand while you stand with your back to the pulley and the cable between your knees. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and your knees should be slightly bent. Taking a couple of steps forward is a good idea.
  • Allow the rope to travel back as far as possible towards the machine by bending forward from the hips.
  • Return to an upright position by extending your hips in a powerful movement without bending your arms. Squeeze your glutes and lock your hips.

6. Kettlebell Swing

A kettlebell swing (or a dumbbell swing) is probably one of the most common glute-ham raise alternatives. It has become a classic exercise throughout the years and it doesn’t have any fancy setup, just a kettlebell.

How to perform the exercise:

  • Begin in a standing stance, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in front of you.
  • Lean forward from your hips, maintaining your spine neutral and your knees slightly bent. With both hands, grab the kettlebell and pull it back between your legs.
  • Swing the kettlebell to roughly eye level while extending your hips to push back up into an upright position.
  • Allow the kettlebell to swing between your legs as you return to the starting position.

7. Reverse Hyperextension

A reverse hyperextension is another glute-ham raise alternative that in most cases in performed only with your body weight. While it may look a bit scary at first, it’s actually not that difficult to perform.

In order to do this exercise, you will need to find a sturdy bench, couch, or bed that can support your weight and will allow you to firmly grip it while performing the exercise.

How to perform the exercise:

  • Begin by lying on the bench with your body and hips on it and your legs dangling over the edge. To keep yourself stable, grab the bench.
  • Extend your legs as far as you can and steadily raise them behind you as high as you can. Press your hips into the bench at the same time. Hold your legs in the top position for a moment.
  • Return to the starting position by lowering your legs.

FAQs about Glute Ham Raises

1) What muscle does a glute-ham raise hit?
A glute-ham raise hits muscles in the posterior chain including your lower back, hamstring, and glutes.

2) How do you increase the difficulty of a GHR?
You can add weight to your body or resistance band for increased resistance. In addition, you can try different variants such as a single-leg glute bridge to further challenge your balance and core stability.

3) How much weight should I lift for glute-ham raise?
You should be able to do at least 8-10 reps with bodyweight only before you consider using extra load. After you’re comfortable with that, you can slowly start adding additional weight that will allow you to perform at least 6 reps with it.


Working your posterior chain muscles is crucial for maintaining a healthy body, especially for people who sit a lot during the day. These exercises will allow you to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles which will help you treat or prevent lower back pain caused by an anterior pelvic tilt.

Most of these exercises shouldn’t be performed every day, but rather 1-3 types per week depending on the volume and the intensity of the workout.