Everyone desires to have a nice muscular butt because a round and toned backside just makes your physique look complete and if we’re honest… more attractive overall. Additionally, if you have equally impressive hamstrings to match, then you’ve got the entire package!
But, for most people, it takes a lot of work to build buns and hamstrings of steel; however, it’s totally worth it.
So how do you accomplish this?
The “Glute Ham Raise” of course! It’s an excellent exercise and using your body weight for resistance is more than sufficient to provide enough stimulus to your posterior chain muscles. (1)
But the benefits go beyond aesthetics since this movement is great for strength, athletic performance, and overall posterior chain functionality. The glute-ham raise also works the back muscles (Although not the main focus) like your spinal erectors which keep us upright with good posture.
So, it’s fair to say that the glute ham raise is a great all-around exercise and if you need 4 reasons why you should incorporate it into your routine then look no further…
1. Muscular Hypertrophy
The goal of every (Serious) gym-goer, athlete, and bodybuilder especially is to build some muscle. Now, typically when we think about hypertrophy training, we think big heavy barbells and/or dumbbells with a bench or rack. But it’s time to think differently because the glute ham machine is a simple contraption which holds your legs in place while you basically perform a reverse sit-up.
Glute and hamstring development is very important for bodybuilders since it’s said that judging is done from the rear; which means striated hamstrings are non-negotiable. So, it’s fair to say these rear muscles contribute a lot to aesthetics.
Now, the great thing about glute ham raises is that you can hold two dumbbells, a barbell or even a weight plate to create more resistance and therefore build more muscle.
Glute ham raises are also great for developing the spinal erectors alongside the glutes and hamstrings which makes it an almost complete posterior chain movement. (2)
2. Better Athletic Performance
Being able to run faster and jump higher is desired by every athlete and/or active person. Posterior chain development is highly responsible for athletic performance and glute ham raises work wonders!
Strong posterior develop is also necessary for preventing back injury, back pain, and core strength. Now, yes you wouldn’t think the glutes and hamstrings would contribute so much to our daily functions but they play a big role in fact. (1)
Now, although glute ham raises may not be the best movement for power and strength, they are very effective for functionality.
We’ve been spoiled by fancy equipment in gyms like machines and man-made tools but there’s something really satisfying about building muscle and strength with your own body weight in a natural movement.
3. Improved Mobility and Functionality
Many older individuals have mobility restrictions through their joints which severely limit the simplest of daily activities. But the problem is many also neglect exercises which are necessary for optimal mobility. (3)
Fascia and connective tissue are largely responsible for optimal joint mobility. So the inability to move through multiple planes of direction is a result of restricted fascial and tissue elasticity. But the good news is you can improve elasticity and improve mobility. (4)
So, performing a movement like a glute ham raise improves elasticity thanks to the full range of motion during the movement which allows the joints and muscles to naturally perform their mechanical functions.
4. Thoracic Extension
Thoracic extension is important for good posture, better breathing, and spine health. Glute ham raises force your torso into upright extension; which if done consistently, can allow you to develop good posture through the habit of performing the movement. (5)
Spine-health is important at every age but degenerative conditions usually occur in the aging population. But to prevent as much degeneration as possible, proper exercise is recommended to strengthen as well as reduce stress and strain on the spine.
Lack of activity can be really detrimental for posture and your spine health so always make sure you’re safely engaging in physical activity along with spine-strengthening exercises.
Two to three days per week is a good starting point with at least a day or two for rest in between workouts. Your experience levels will determine how much workout volume you can handle but if you’re a beginner start slow and only use your body weight.
Here’s a sample beginner routine:
Do this routine twice per week maximum. Don’t overextend as it’s dangerous for the knees, and keep your core tight throughout the movement.
- Perform 3 sets x 10-12 repetitions
- Rest for around 30-45 seconds in between sets.
When you become more experienced with the movement you can add an extra set per workout and possibly more repetitions (15-20). If the exercise becomes less challenging then add 5-10 pounds for a few weeks until you can do more than 15-20 repetitions. You can then add progressively more resistance.
As you can see, glute ham raises are an effective exercise and they offer plenty of good, useful benefits. They build muscle, improve athletic performance, increase mobility and promote better thoracic extension.
If you’re not doing them then you’re missing out on all the functional benefits they provide and you can easily add resistance to make them even more challenging. The glute-ham raise relies on full body function which is essential for improving both mobility and stability.
Optimal fitness performance is achieved by allowing the joints to work through a natural range of motion without too much restriction (Like machines) therefore improving mobility and stability for longevity.
For these reasons alone, glute ham raises should be a part of your workout routine.