How To: Glute Ham Raise

Kelsey Lensman ATC


Glute-Ham Raise. It’s that weird looking contraption that you don’t really know what it’s for. Which way do you face? Do you do abs on it? How the heck am I supposed to set this thing up? ALL these questions are valid questions, but have the same answer of “it depends.” You can face both ways. You can do abs on it, but it’s not just for abs. It depends on how you set it up because each person is different. In this article I will detail the set up, how to do it, and how to modify to target specific muscles. This is specifically for the glute-ham raise and targeting the glutes and hamstrings together. You can do MANY other things on the glute-ham raise machine (GHR), but I will just go into detail about this one specifically for now.



Adjust the distance between the two pads depending on how long your legs are

  • You want the big pad you place your hips on to be supportive of your entire upper thigh/hips. You should still be able to bend freely at the waist with zero restriction.
  • If the pad is too far away and you can’t get full ROM at your hips, adjust the pad so it is closer
    • If you feel it a ton in your lower back, it may be due to this
  • If the pad is so close that almost ¾ of your upper thigh is hanging off, adjust the pad so it is farther away

Lock your feet in to the smaller pads

  • Make sure your feet are pointing the same angle as you set up
    • If your toes are pointing straight down on your left foot, make sure they are pointing straight down on your right foot
    • If you toes are slightly pointed out, make sure they are slightly pointed out on both 



  1. Start at the bottom with your body at a 90 degree angle at your hips and head pointing down
  2. Go over the check points
    1. Are your feet pointing the same way?
    2. Can you get full ROM at your hips?
  3. Squeeze your GLUTE and raise so that your entire body is parallel to the floor
  4. Complete the movement with keeping your glutes squeezed and core tight by squeezing your HAMSTRINGS and raise up so that your upper body is perpendicular to the floor (you are upright now)
    1. This is the TOUGH part
    2. Don’t let your hips drop and glutes go inactivated
  5. Return back to the starting position by lowering your body back to parallel to the ground and then back down to the initial starting position with head facing down



To specifically target glutes:

  • Start at the bottom position with head facing down
  • Raise up ONLY to parallel by squeezing GLUTES
  • Lower back down to starting position with head facing down
  • If you feel it in lower back, adjust pad and make sure you are ONLY squeezing with glutes
    • If you still cannot feel it in glutes, please refer to my article on Glute Activation so that you can properly fire glutes to be able to translate in exercises like these


To specifically target hamstrings:

  • Start in the half-way position where your body is parallel to the ground
  • Squeeze HAMSTRINGS to raise body up to upright position at the top
  • Lower back down to parallel position
  • Keep it in that range of motion
  • Change foot angle to target different areas of your hamstrings
    • Refer to my article on foot positioning to see how to target specific areas of hamstrings
  • Start by lowering VERY slowly and progress to do full reps with lowering and raising


These are awesome to build up strength, but to focus on controlled, eccentric strength! If you can do eccentric, your concentric will be SO much stronger. Hit your glute ham raises and get those tie-ins (for my bikini girls).  As always – train hard and train smart!

Kelsey Recovers From Her Workouts with the Max Effort Protein