The glute-ham developer or GHD for short is an apparatus that has grown tremendously in popularity and consequently, its use by many.
The sole purpose of its design and function is posterior chain (backside of the body) development.
Today we review the few best GHD machines and we’ve also included lots of information on it such as the muscles worked, performing the glute-ham raise, benefits, and more.
GHD Machines Ranked:
- CFF FIT Pro Series Elite GHD Machine – Buy here Editor’s Choice
- Body-Solid Pro Club Line SGH500 GHD – Buy here
- Papababe GHD Machine – Buy here
- Ader Sporting Goods GHD Machine – Buy here
Editor’s Choice – CFF FIT Pro Series Elite GHD Machine
CFF Pro Series Elite GHD is a top-of-the-line product from a top-notch brand.
They call it the most advanced on the market and although we can’t make that claim, you might have to find out for yourself.
But at a weight of 290 lbs, it’s hard to believe it’s not an extremely solid and durable option. The machine can support up to 650 lbs which is a lot!
It’s a bolt-together bench but should be as stable and rugged as a completely welded unit due to the quality and design.
It has four band pegs and 46 different band peg mounting points to offer lots of combinations using bands.
This is a very well-developed unit and you can check the details on the product page for more specifications information.
This GHD is costlier than a lot of options on the market however, it’s quality is reflective of that.
- Commercial grade linear bearings
- Four band pegs and 46 mounting points
- 7 foot pad height settings and 14 slide positions on 1.5″ intervals
- 1″ guide rods
- 5 split pad height settings
- Heavy-duty lock pins keep things secure
About the brand
Christian Sciarrino started Christian’s Fitness Factory (CFF) in 2005 by buying and selling used equipment. The brand has grown hugely since then and they’ve even introduced new and innovative equipment to the market such as K2 kettlebells, the floor glute-ham developer, and more.
“Everyone should have access to fitness equipment at an affordable price point without sacrificing quality,” says Sciarrino. “At CFF, we are constantly looking at ways to bring an improved product to the market while beating the current industry price.”
Body-Solid Pro Club Line SGH500 GHD
Body-Solid is a known name in fitness equipment and we hardly hesitate to recommend their products.
The SGH500 is a commercial-grade GHD with several features. It has oversized, double-stitched Durafirm pads to ensure comfort and performance that lasts session after session.
It’s adjustable both vertically and horizontally for different heights and allows users to do multiple exercises to develop the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and abdominals.
Another great feature is the band pegs that you can use to add more resistance and continue to progress.
- 11-gauge steel construction
- Resistance bands
- Vertz and Horz adjustments
- 8″ foam rollers
- Durafirm pads
- Diamond footplate
- Step bars
About the brand
Body-Solid makes affordable, yet high-quality products suitable for commercial and home use. The designs are straightforward and easy to adjust which provides a familiar and effective experience for all users.
Papababe GHD Machine
Unlike the other options you’ll find on this list of best HD machines, the Papababe GHD is designed to be used closer to floor level.
A benefit of this is it’s smaller and easier to climb on and off and it may help with the stability of the bench.
Additionally, it has extra padding to support your knees and body weight as you perform the movement or rest at the top.
You can also adjust the machine with four settings for the legs and three settings for the ankles.
- Compact design
- High-density foam padding
- Four adjustable settings
- Three adjustable ankle settings
- Additional padding
- Anti-slip handles
- Portable with wheels
- Heavy-duty steel construction
About the brand
Papababe is a popular brand that offers unique and quality products commonly sold on Amazon. We think they offer a great value in fitness equipment.
Ader Sporting Goods GHD Machine
Wrapping up our list of best GHD machines is a good value from Ader Sporting Goods.
It’s adjustable for different heights, has a non-slip footplate, and is made using heavy-duty steel with white powder coating and high-density foam padding.
- Heavy-duty steel tubing construction
- Durable foam padding
- Non-slip footplate
About the brand
Ader products, an importer and distributor of fitness equipment, was established in 1983 and is based in Dallas, Texas.
Offering quality products and top-notch customer service is a hallmark and commitment of the brand and its success.
While the lower posterior chain (backside of the body) is the primary focus, several muscle groups are involved in this exercise.
Everyone likes a nice booty and well, this exercise is just one of many that can help you get it.
The butt is composed of a few different muscles such as the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.
The gluteus maximus forms most of the superficial appearance of the butt and hips and is a very important muscle for function and aesthetics.
But the glute medius is a commonly affected muscle as many of us sit all day. It gets weak and this can cause lower back issues and knee pain. So it’s important to isolate the glutes to prevent these potential problems.
The butt primarily extends and externally rotates the thighs and it plays an important role in helping us to maintain an upright posture.
The hips are a very important muscle group to keep mobile and flexible. As we get older, hips are a common problem area because of many reasons including bone degeneration and lack of mobility.
Related: 13 Ways to Avoid Hip Pain in The Gym
The hamstrings or hammies in bro language; is a three-headed muscle group consisting of semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris.
This muscle group is located on the back of the upper leg opposite the quads and functions to extend the hips and flex the knees. It’s important to note that the short head of the biceps femoris only crosses the knee joint and not the hip like the other two muscles.
The hamstrings play an important role in standing but also explosive activities such as sprinting and jumping.
Additionally, this three-headed muscle is active during the gait cycle to resist knee extension, plus it stabilizes the knee joints and has other functions too.
The calves are the muscles on the back of the lower legs. It consists of two muscles – gastrocnemius and soleus. The former is the larger and more superficial of the two and it also has two heads (medial and lateral) while the soleus is large, flat, and located beneath the gastrocnemius.
Because the gastrocnemius also crosses the knee joint, it plays a role in knee flexion. The glute-ham raise involves knee flexion and the gastrocnemius plays a key role in the movement.
Both calf muscles meet at the heel to form the Achilles tendon.
The calves function to plantarflex the foot and ankle (point the toes down).
While the hyperextension machine isn’t the best choice for training all muscles of the back, it is a good choice to strengthen the lower back and erector spinae muscles.
The erector spinae muscles run along the spine and are responsible for thoracic cage movement and flexion of the vertebral column and head.
The simple movement of the hyperextension will bring the abdominals or core muscles into play. After all, the core muscles are involved in any total body movement.
The function of these muscles is the movement of the trunk and stabilizing the spine.
Benefits Of Using A GHD
There are several benefits to using the GHD, let’s talk about them.
Few would deny a better-looking backside. This includes a nice, firm butt and rounder hamstrings that make you happy you train these muscles hard especially when wearing fitting pants at the gym and out in public.
Not to mention, the GHD works the core muscles which adds to a better-looking physique.
Stronger and more functional muscles
The GHD isn’t just a machine to help develop sexy muscles. Nope… it also strengthens your posterior chain and stronger muscles help with athletic ability and performing essentially any physical task.
In fact, the GHD is commonly used as an assistance exercise by elite athletes and anyone who wants a better squat and deadlift. But it also happens to strengthen the muscles (glutes and hamstrings) largely responsible for sprinting and jumping.
Helps prevent injuries
To continue from the last benefit of using the GHD, doing the exercise properly and strengthening your posterior will also help to prevent injuries.
A lot of hamstring injuries happen when the muscles are in the lengthened position. Many hamstring-focused or compound exercises don’t take the muscles through their full range of movement and therefore, won’t maximize their strength throughout.
It’s a unique movement
One aspect of the glute-ham raise that makes it unique from others is that, unlike leg curls and deadlifts, you benefit from both a complete eccentric and contraction phase.
The deadlift, regardless of its variations, does not fully contract the hamstrings. Then you have leg curls that don’t allow you to fully stretch the hamstrings like you do with the glute-ham raise.
This means you’re maximally overloading the muscles in both phases and forcing them to get stronger and this could also potentially activate the muscle better overall.
Improved posture/healthier spine
The GHD forces you into thoracic extension which is an essential component in improving and maintaining good posture.
Having proper posture whether sitting at your computer or lifting is crucial for your long-term health. Bad posture affects your breathing, spine, physical and mental performance, and attractiveness… did we get your attention now?…
Related: Do The Band Pull-Apart For Better Posture and Performance
Roman Chair Hyperextension Glute Ham Developer (GHD)?
The back extension or hyperextension machine is another very useful piece of training equipment that works the posterior chain. However, because the design and function are different, so is the focus or target area and the degree to which each apparatus engages a specific muscle group.
The Roman chair hyperextension involves lowering and lifting your upper body while the legs remain straight at an angle. As a result, this primarily engages the back and glutes. Although it still engages the hamstrings too.
The glute-ham developer (GHD) involves a large degree of knee flexion as you use your lower posterior muscles like the hamstrings and glutes to lower and lift your upper body.
The spinal erectors also help to lift the torso into the upright position.
The machine is also different as it allows the exercise to start in the horizontal position and end with the body forming a 90-degree angle. The feet are also higher off the ground.
Read also: Best Roman Chair Hyperextension Machines
How To Do The Glute Ham Raise
We recommend taking 6 minutes out of your busy life to watch the following video to get the most benefit from this exercise. Visual instruction is always best especially when it comes to movements like the glute-ham raise.
To get the best from any piece of training equipment, it really helps to understand the purpose of its design and use.
The foam rollers are used to secure your ankles while the feet are placed on the footplates and the thick padding keeps the entire body in position.
Do’s and Don’ts When Using the GHD
If you have another 10 minutes to spare, this is an excellent video that shares several key tips including do’s and don’ts when performing the glute-ham raise.
Also check out: The Best Glute Ham Raise Alternatives For A Stronger Posterior Chain
Ways To Incorporate The Glute Ham Raise Into Your Training
While you could hop on the GHD and start pumping out reps, a better strategy would be to use, well, a little strategy.
This applies really to any serious training regime where there’s an end goal. Whether it’s bodybuilders, powerlifters, CrossFitters, etc, they all plan their workouts for a desired outcome.
Here are a few tips to consider when using the glute-ham raise for better muscle development, strength, and function, athletic performance, and its overall benefits.
Avoid as a beginner
The GHD is not ideal for the novice exerciser due to the potential risk involved. It’s a good idea to develop posterior strength using other exercises first.
Here are strategies to use…
Move the footplate forward
There are several ways to make this exercise more difficult. Moving the footplate forward is one of them.
By doing this, your body is positioned farther forward over the padding and this requires more strength to perform the movement.
Move the footplate higher
Moving the footplate higher also makes the exercise more challenging because you’re more at a decline and this increases the resistance by increasing the angle of the body.
You’ll need to have a little experience with the glute-ham raise before you progress into a weighted version (or at least that’s what we’d recommend).
Therefore, you should know your capabilities. But start small using a 10-pound plate and increase as needed. We suggest being able to do at least 8-10 reps without weights before this though.
Similar to the weighted variation, you’re introducing more of a challenge to the glutes, hammies, spinal erectors, and core muscles.
However, it’s easy to see how it could be even harder than holding a weight plate at your chest.
For example, a weight plate never changes but a band provides more resistance as it stretches. Not to mention, it’s probably harder to cheat since the band is attached to the base of the GHD.
12 Best Resistance Bands Reviewed for 2023
All of these techniques are effective at helping you to progress with the movement.
You may not have known this but you can also train your core using the GHD. GHD sit-ups are not for beginners either, just like the glute-ham raise, but when done safely, it’s an awesome exercise and used in CrossFit.
Here’s a great instructional.
When it comes to developing the muscles of the posterior chain, this is one of the most effective exercises you can add to your arsenal.
Thankfully for you though, we chose what we believe to be the best GHD machines to make the process a bit easier. Each one is unique but all are intended to do the same thing.
The GHD has proven to be an incredibly effective tool for athletes, everyday gym-goers, and anyone in between with enough training experience to safely and effectively include it in their training regime.