What does the glute ham raise train do?
The primary movers are the hamstrings. The secondary movers are the glutes and the erector spinae.
Due to the ratio of the concentric to eccentric overload this is neither a strength nor a hypertrophy exercise. It primarily trains the hamstrings in their accelerating function.
The most commonly seen compensation pattern is initiating knee flexion without full hip extension and therefore missing out on range and contraction of the hamstrings is what makes the GHR on a GHR machine an intermediate to advanced exercise. Strong glutes and decent hipflexor length is essential to not compensate with lack of hipextension
The GHR is great to train the hamstrings at higher velocity and synchronizing knee flexion and hip extension while deloading the lower back and central nervous system.
The difference between the glute ham raise and the floor glute ham raise
Comparing the GHR to a Floor GHR – short FGHR – the exercises got a similar name and look similar, yet they are quite different in execution and training effect.
On the FGHR only the knee is supported – compared to the thigh in a GHR – which significantly increases the lever and therefore the force. The #hamstring is also primarily loaded in knee flexion not hip extension. Looking at the ratio of concentric to eccentric overload this leads to very high eccentric force on the hamstrings
Doing higher reps on the GHR and FGHR to induce greater metabolic stress is not preferred as in a fatigue state the compensation pattern of breaking the hips is even more preferable.
The GHR is an intermediate to advanced exercise done at primarily moderate reps of 6 to 12. A fast concentric tempo is the primary objective to teach the hamstrings to contract at a high velocity.
The FGHR is an advanced exercise done at primarily lower reps of 1 to 8. I also prefer a slower concentric tempo especially in the beginning to increase control during the eccentric and avoid the common compensation pattern of a break at the hip.
The GHR can be either put at the beginning of a program to activate the hamstrings or at the end of a program as an assistance exercise to finish a leg workout with contractions at a high velocity which is especially beneficial in pre-season and in-season workouts for athletes
The FGHR can be either put at the beginning of a program to activate the hamstrings or at the end of a program as an assistance exercise to finish a leg workout with high eccentric overload which is especially beneficial in the early and mid offseason for athletes that needs a high level of hamstring strength as the base of the ability of the hamstrings to contract explosive and to endure the demand of high eccentric forces to avoid hamstring strains.
The FGHR is also often called Nordic Hamstring Curls.
A video of the floor glute ham raise
In the following video Dominican Coach Laura Minaya demonstrates a regression of the FGHR using bands to match the resistance curve with strength curve and allow greater control at the bottom
To progress the exercise band tension will be reduced by using less or lighter bands once the required reps are achieved
Instead of using the bench as shown in the video to hook in the feet, one can also use a pad below the knees and a training partner or personal trainer to hold the feet at the heel.
The FGHR is basically to the leg curl machine what the chinup is to the lat pulldown. A more complex and advanced variation with a recruitment and overload of the specific musclegroups involved. Try this exercise once you can use most of, or the whole stack of your leg curl machine
Once you can do the FGHR without bands you have truly strong hamstrings!
Picture: Personaltrainer Roan Heming doing a Floor Glute Ham Raise during the JC Simo & YPSI Training Camp at the Human Performance Center in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic in February 2019.