7 Glute Ham Raise Alternatives (Best Substitutes Discussed)

For most, the glute ham raise machine is a large and expensive piece of equipment that might not fit into your home, but that does not mean you should give up on developing your glutes and hams! This article will list the seven best glute ham raise alternatives to help you work the same muscles! 

1. Good Mornings

The good morning is an excellent alternative to the glute ham raise because they work all of the same muscles in a reversed range of motion. It is important that you maintain good form because bad form can lead to injury. 

How To Perform The Good Morning 

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and squeeze your shoulder blades. Hold a barbell along your shoulders and upper back while maintaining a slight bend in your knees. 
  • Keep a neutral spine, hinge forward with your hips until the upper part of your body is parallel to the ground. 
  • Remember to engage your glutes and hamstrings in order to pull your body back to your starting position. 
  • Repeat the same steps. 
Good Mornings

2. Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

The Romanian deadlift is an intense and effective posterior chain exercise that bulks out your back, glutes, and hamstrings at the same time as training hip extension.

If you want to do fewer repetitions, then you can use heavier weights (instead of using lighter weights and doing more repetitions) to reveal greater gains in a shorter period of time. However, remember to maintain good form throughout the exercise. 

How To Perform The Romanian Deadlift 

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart and slightly bend your knees. Hold a barbell with an overhand grip at hip level. Keep your back straight and pull your shoulders back. 
  • Hinge and push your hips back while you lower the barbell in front of your legs. You should feel your hamstrings stretch at this point. 
  • Engage your glutes and hamstrings when the barbell is below your knees to pull back up to the starting position. 
  • Repeat the same steps. 
Romanian Deadlift

3. Nordic Hamstring Curl 

If you want to grow your hamstrings, then you should definitely try the Nordic hamstring curl. The Nordic hamstring curl is a versatile and effective bodyweight exercise, and they are an excellent glute ham raise alternative in the sense that they will strengthen your hamstrings and avoid potential injuries. They will also build mass in your arms, chest, and shoulders. 

The Nordic hamstring curl is the perfect variation for when you are working out in the park or your garage gym at home. The exercise will really work your hamstrings, so you should expect to perform a lower number of repetitions.

You will require a soft surface for your knees to rest (like a cushion or mat) and a stable item for you to secure your feet. In this case, you can use a doorway pull-up bar, a weighted barbell, a lat pull down machine, a partner, or even your sofa to help keep your feet in place. 

How To Perform The Nordic Hamstring Curl 

  • Get down in a kneeling position and secure your ankles. Remember to keep your back straight. 
  • Engage your abs, glutes, and hamstrings. 
  • Lean forward slowly and keep your back straight. Then, when you first start to perform the Nordic hamstring curl, you should be ready to catch yourself as you descend. 
  • Contract your hamstrings in order to lift your body into the starting position. You might have to push yourself away from the ground at first. Remember to squeeze your glutes and hamstrings when you reach the start again.  
  • Repeat the same steps. 
Nordic Hamstring Curl

4. Kettlebell Swing 

The kettlebell swing is one of the classic glute ham raise alternative exercises. It is a powerful exercise that will seriously work your glutes and hamstrings. You will definitely see an improvement in your hip extension, glutes, and movement. 

How To Perform The Kettlebell Swing 

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in front of you on the floor. 
  • Lean forward with your hips, keep a neutral spine and slightly bend your knees. Hold the kettlebell with both of your hands and pull it back between your legs. 
  • To push back into the standing position, extend your hips while you swing the kettlebell up to the level of your eyes. 
  • Lower down and let the kettlebell swing between your legs. 
  • Repeat the same steps. 
kettlebell swing

5. Hip Thrusts 

The barbell hip thrust is an excellent weight training move that will activate the posterior chain. It will help you to build muscle and strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, as well as your hip adductors and core.

If you add a barbell or a high tension exercise band to the standard hip thrust, it will seriously increase the difficulty of the move, and you should expect to feel sore the following day after performing the hip thrusts.  

How To Perform The Hip Thrusts 

  • Start by leaning your upper back against a raised surface, like a box or a bench. Try to keep your knees bent and your feet on the ground shoulder-width apart. Then place a barbell on the hips. 
  • Raise the hips from the ground until the thighs are parallel to the floor and keep your knees at a 90-degree angle. Remember to squeeze the glutes. 
  • Lower yourself slowly back to the starting position. 
  • Repeat the same steps. 
Hip Thrusts

6. Cable Pull Throughs 

It is worth noting that the cable pull through will definitely make your lower body ache. However, if you pull through the pain, then you will develop amazing glute and hamstring strength. You can also use a resistance band if you do not have access to a cable machine. 

How To Perform The Cable Pull Throughs 

  • Hook the rope on the lower setting of the cable machine and stand with your back towards the pulley and keep the cable between your legs. Hold one side of the rope with each hand and keep your feet shoulder-width apart while you slightly bend your knees. Then take a few steps forward. 
  • Hinge from the hips and bend forward as you let the rope move back towards the machine as far as possible. 
  • Extend the hips without bending your arms in a strong movement in order to return to the standing position. Remember to lock the hips and squeeze the glutes. 
  • Repeat the same steps. 
Cable Pull-Through

7. Reverse Hyperextension 

The reverse hyperextension is one of the best glute ham alternative exercises due to the fact that it works all of the same muscles. It is excellent for working on glute and hamstring hypertrophy and developing power and strength in the posterior chain.

You will require a stable surface that is high enough to grant you a long range of motion (such as a flat bench). 

How To Perform The Reverse Hyperextension 

  • Start the exercise with your torso and hips resting on the bench, and let your legs hang off the edge. Hold the bench for stability. 
  • Extend your legs and lift them slowly behind you and try to reach as high as you can. Push your hips into the bench at the same time and hold your legs at the top position for a moment. 
  • Let your legs lower back to the starting position. 
  • Repeat the same steps. 
Bench Reverse Hyperextensions

What Exactly Are Glute Ham Raises? 

The glute ham raise, also called the glute ham developer (GHD), is a hypertrophy and posterior chain strength exercise. In other words, the movement will burn almost every muscle on the back of your body, including your lower back, hamstrings, and glutes. 

How To Do Glute Ham Raises

  • Start lying down, ensuring your body is roughly parallel to the ground. 
  • Make sure that your thighs are in contact with the rest pad. Your knees should sit just behind the pad. 
  • Your ankles should rest on the other two pads. Raise these to increase the difficulty. 
  • Force your knees forward and into the pad while pulling in your hamstrings to lift your body. 
  • Keep your back as straight as possible throughout the movement. 

Glute ham raises help to develop serious muscle mass and improve your full body strength, stability, and overall back health. Glute ham raises work the knee flexion and hip extension, which exercise your hamstrings while building strength in your upper legs and lower body at the same time.

If you lift, then you will definitely want to reap the benefits of glute ham raises because having a strong posterior chain will help you to lift heavy weights and improve your squat and deadlift. 

The main reason why people tend to avoid glute ham raises is because the GHD machine is an expensive and large piece of equipment, or they might not be able to make it to the gym as much as they would like. However, glute ham raise alternatives will also allow you to: 

  • Build strength 
    The glute ham raise will throw you into the deep end of glutes and hamstrings, but the alternative exercises that we have listed below will help you to gradually increase the weight and difficulty according to your strength level and goals.
  • Work from home 
    The alternative glute ham raise exercises listed below use equipment that you most likely already own or are less expensive to purchase. The alternatives will also let you modify and adjust the movement according to the tools that you have on hand.
  • Change it up 
    If you perform the same exercise repeatedly, you will eventually stop seeing gains. It is essential that you have a range of compound exercises that will target your glutes and hamstrings to keep your muscles active and engaged.
  • What Muscles Do Glute Ham Raises Target?  
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

Why You Should Work the Glutes & Hamstrings

Glutes 

The glutes and butt muscles are comprised of three sets of muscles — the gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus. The maximus is the largest and strongest muscle in the human body — it allows you to extend your hips and move your thighs, along with the added benefit of filling out your jeans. 

The medius is known for rotating the thigh and moving the leg away from the center of the body. The minimus works with the medius and brings stability to the pelvis when you run or walk. 

The glutes, abs, obliques, and lower back make up the core of your body, and they are the power behind explosive movements such as jumping and sprinting, along with assisting you in standing, sitting, and walking.

If you have strong glutes, then you will be able to lift heavy weights and experience a reduction in back pain. Glutes that are weak will put stress on your lower body joints, knees, calves, and hamstrings. 

A good machine you can use to build the glutes up is the leg press machine 

Hamstrings 

The hamstrings are a set of muscles and tendons that are on the back of your legs. They work to extend the hip and flex the knee joint. The muscles start moving when you walk, run, jump and move up the stairs. 

The hamstrings work opposite the quads. It is vital that you balance quad workouts with exercises that help to develop strength in the hamstrings. It is also worth noting that the hamstrings are vulnerable to injury when it comes to sports that mix running with sudden starts and stops, such as soccer, tennis, basketball, or football.

The most common injuries for athletes and people who are new at the gym are hamstring pulls and strains. If you work on strengthening your hamstrings, it will help you to avoid sustaining hamstring and knee injuries. The glutes and hamstrings create the posterior chain, along with the calves and back, which are the most powerful groups of muscles in the human body. 

You will want a strong posterior chain, regardless of whether you are a bodybuilder, weightlifter, football player, sprinter, or anyone who likes to work out. 

An excellent way to build the strength of your hamstrings is the leg extension machine. 


Common Glute Ham Raise Questions

How do you do a glute ham raise without a machine? 

Most of the exercises on my list above do not require a glute ham machine. If you don't have any equipment, however, you should try to incorporate bodyweight movements such as the Nordic curl.

Is glute ham raise same as back extension?

Not quite! You usually perform a back extension using a Roman chair; while a glute ham raise uses a glute ham developer machine. While they do work some of the same muscles groups, you'll get much greater glute activation with a glute ham raise.

How do you make a ham raise at home?

All you need for this simple DIY glute raise set up is a large piece of plywood, a towel, and a ratchet or furniture lifting strap. Lay the piece of plywood on the floor. Next, run the strap underneath the plywood and secure it over the backs of your calves. Put a towel under your knees, so the plywood doesn't hurt you. Complete as many bodyweight glute ham raises as you want! If you have a dumbbell or gallon jug of water lying around, you can even add weight.


Conclusion

It is essential that you maintain a varied and challenging workout routine that targets all of the muscles and areas you are looking to build. The list of exercises that we have shared with you will work best when added to a varied strength and cardio routine.

If you spend the whole week performing only hamstring exercises, then it will lead to pain and no gain in the end. We have laid out all of the secrets to developing mass and strength in your posterior chain. Try mixing in a few of these glute ham raise alternative exercises into your workout routine and prepare for serious results. 

Last Updated on May 16, 2022