The Best Glute Ham Raise Alternatives

Glute ham raises are a popular glute and hamstring developer among weightlifters. This is primarily because of how effective the exercise is in developing the hamstrings and the glutes. However, despite its popularity and effectiveness, …

Glute ham raises are a popular glute and hamstring developer among weightlifters. This is primarily because of how effective the exercise is in developing the hamstrings and the glutes. However, despite its popularity and effectiveness, not all gyms have the glute ham developer machine. This means you may have to rely on other exercises that work the same muscle groups if you are out of town or your gym does not have the machine. This article will go over some of the best glute ham raise alternatives you can do if you cannot use the machine.

The glute ham raise is an excellent posterior chain exercise. The peculiarity of the exercise is its unique ability to target the hamstrings with two actions, hip extension, and knee flexion. As a result, the exercise activates your hamstrings twice as much. In addition, the exercise also sees you lifting your entire body weight, hence why many refer to it as the hypertrophy exercise. As you may have noticed, your hamstrings are the exercise’s primary target. However, your glutes come in as they are also involved in hip extension. Nevertheless, the bulk of the activation will result from isometric contraction.

Here are some of the exercises you can perform to work the same muscles in a similar fashion: 

Nordic curl

The Nordic ham curl is one of the primary glute-ham raise alternatives because its range of motion is very similar to the glute ham raise. It looks like performing glute-ham raises on the floor instead of a machine. This makes the nordic curl one of the most challenging exercises out there. The exercise sees you kneeling, anchoring your feet, and lowering your body to the floor while keeping an extended torso. The goal is to pull yourself back to your starting position using your hamstrings to flex your knee. The exercise may be stressful on your knees, so you can get the Rogue 5mm Knee Sleeve – Camo – Pair for increased comfort.

The exercise is more challenging than it sounds, so most people do not do them in that manner. Instead of pulling themselves back to their starting position after lowering their body, they simply try to fall as slowly as possible, catching themselves with their hands. If this is still a bit too challenging for you, you can instead hold on to something to slow down your fall. You can use a resistance band to do that.

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Tube Resistance Bands

Reverse hyperextension

This posterior chain developer exercise can be a nice alternative to the glute ham raise. The exercise involves you leaning on anything to support your upper torso so that your lower torso hangs freely. If you are lucky, you can use a reverse hyper machine, but most regular gyms do not have them. After suspending your lower torso, bring your legs all the way down. You may require bending your knees, so they do not hit the ground, depending on how high what you are leaning on is.

The goal is to lower your lower torso and legs and slowly bring them back up. You should ensure you pull your torso in tight with the support to reduce your core muscles’ activation. This will improve your glutes and hamstrings’ activation as you lower and bring up your legs. If you find this slightly challenging, you can hold something by the sides of what you are leaning on. The exercise is versatile, and you can use it for different goals, such as strength training, injury prevention, hypertrophy, and rehabilitation.

When starting, you can simply use your body weight as resistance. However, the higher you climb, you may need to increase the resistance by attaching weight plates to your feet. If you have a reverse hyperextension machine, you can simply load the plates. 

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LB Elite Color Bumper Plates

Stability ball leg curl

You can perform this posterior chain workout as an alternative to the glute ham raise with your body weight and a stability ball. While the exercise targets the same muscle groups as the glute ham raise, the motion range is the opposite. The glute ham raise uses your stationary legs to put your body. However, with the stability ball leg curl, you use your stationary body to draw your legs closer. 

To do the ball leg curl, get on your back, and put the stability ball near your feet. Raise your legs to rest your heels on the ball while your back remains on the ground. The next step is to draw your heels down, extend your hips, and elevate your torso. When you have fully extended your hips, push your heels into the ball, flexing your knees and rolling the ball towards your body as a result. You should flex your knees until you get the ball very close to your butt. After squeezing your butt and hamstrings, roll the ball back, and repeat until you reach your desired reps. If this exercise has caught your fancy, you can get the Powermax Stability Balls.

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Reverse hack squat

The reverse hack squat is a variation of the regular hack squat that emphasizes your glutes and hamstrings, similar to the glute ham raise. You typically perform the regular hack squat by resting your back on the machine’s sliding sled. Because of the considerable knee flexion and slight hip flexion, your quadriceps do most of the work. Because of this, you have to turn toward the hack squat machine to enable better hip flexion to activate your posterior chain. 

Romanian deadlift

This deadlift variation is one you can do as an alternative to the glute ham raise because of its significant hip mobility and reduced knee flexion. Unlike other deadlift variations, the Romanian deadlift isolates your glutes and hamstrings more. An extra benefit of this deadlift is that you can perform it with a pair of dumbbells or a barbell, as the form remains the same. If you prefer to use a barbell, check out the Midway Olympic Power Bar.

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