The Best Non-GHD Glute Ham Raise Alternatives to Ensure You Crush Leg Day

Jeff Baldelli
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Why Glute Ham Raise?

Glute Ham Raise (GHR) or glute/ham developer raise is an awesome exercise to build your hamstring and glute muscles. However, it can be a little pricey, and not everyone has a GHD or glute ham developer.

GHR is one of the most effective exercises for hamstring, glute, and core muscles. Performing a GHR is not an easy feat. You need to be in the right position, and once you’ve lifted your leg up you need to hold it in place for a moment. Then slowly release it down to the ground.

You also need to make sure that you’re in proper position without your body being too twisted or angled. Even the slightest mistake can cause injury to the back, spine, or knees.

Luckily, exercises can be adapted for home fitness, so here are some great GLUTE HAM RAISE alternatives that you can do without a GHD.

Glute Ham Raise Alternative Exercises

This is where things can get a little tricky. When it comes to real Glute-Ham Raises, there are a number of sizes available. This will make it such that depending on the size of your individual legs, you’ll be able to lift more or less weight.

A great way to mirror the Glute-Ham Raise, and to ensure that you target your Glutes and Hamstrings, is the Leg Raise on the Leg Press Machine. This is a closed chain movement, meaning that it’s closed to the ground, unlike the Hamstring-Curl on the Leg Extension Machine. As for the Glute-Ham Raise itself, there aren’t a lot of alternatives that can replicate the same movement. But if you’re looking to really target your hamstrings, the Leg Curl Machine can provide a decent alternative.

Natural Glute Ham Raises

If you want to build your glutes, there might be no better exercise than the GHD. If you don’t have access to one, however, just do your best to mimic the same motion with another option!

In a bench position, grasp a dumbbell or kettlebell and place it under the leg that you’re not using.

Keeping the leg extended and engaged, slowly lower the hip toward the floor.

You want to get a nice full stretch in the glute at the point of repose before creating eccentric tension by starting to press back up.

Be extremely careful that you don’t hyperextend the spine here. Hyperextension is when you end up in a “backbend” position. If you don’t keep your core engaged, however, you are likely to end up in that position.

When you’re done, switch sides and repeat.

If it’s possible to attach a band to the bottom of the GHD or other machine, this is also great for natural GHDs. You’ll want to anchor one end under the table and wrap the other around the back of your leg so that the band stays tight, but not unbearable, throughout the entire movement.

Good Mornings

The Good Morning is a variation of the Dead Lift that is used primarily for the Mid Back, Glutes and Hamstrings. The principle of the movement is simple, bend at the hips until your upper body is parallel to the floor, and then use your glutes and hamstrings to raise you back to the starting position.

TheGood Morning can be performed using a barbell, a kettlebell, dumbbells, an ultra-wide (fat grip) bar as well as body weight. The most effective variation, however, is the Barbell Version.

To perform this movement with the weight on your back, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, while holding a barbell behind your neck with a medium width grip. From this position, allow the bar to gently rest on your upper traps and shoulders.

Next, bend at the hips while maintaining a natural arch in your lower back. Keep your knees slightly bent and your chest up, and allow your glutes and hamstrings to fully stretch. As you bend at the hips, shift your weight forward onto your toes so that you are leading with your chest.

Pressing through your heels, raise your upper body back to the upright position.

Kettlebell Swings

The kettlebell swing is certainly listed as an exercise that is known to work the glutes and hamstrings. The issue with this one is that if you do not have the right form, it can end up with you causing more harm than good.

If you’ve been told that your knees cave in, your hips jut out, or that you are raising your shoulders, you need to dial back on the weights you are using. Remember, the idea behind kettlebell swings is to make sure that your body moves as one solid unit.

It is a great exercise due to the fact that it offers a lot of bang for your buck. You can increase the weight of the bells you are using, and the exercise will still work the hips and glutes that you are targeting.

The issue comes when you increase the weight by getting bells that are too heavy. Triggering good form can help keep you out of harm’s way when you do this exercise.

You should always lead with your hips and try to really feel a contraction in the buttocks.

Kettlebell swings are great when used on their own. If you choose to do them when you are a little bit more fresh, you will actually get a better workout.

Romanian Deadlifts

Using a barbell on either the floor or a rack, you want to stand slightly outside of your arms and have your feet about shoulder width apart with your toes pointed forward so that your body is at a slight angle.

It’s important you stand at this angle because a straight start can place a lot of stress on your lower back and could cause you to round it.

If you need to switch to a barbell from a machine, there is an easy way to do it. Find the machine that allows you to change the resistance, usually a few plates on each side, but sometimes a stack of weight plates inside the machine.

Once you find that, lift it off the machine and set it on the floor in front of the machine. Then lift it up and place it on the floor behind you. This way you won’t have to unscrew the weight plates from the machine and can just slide them on the barbell.

Now that you have the barbell, grab it with an overhand grip with your hands just outside of your ankles. Then place your shoulders just a little wider than your hips.

To keep an arch in your back, point your chest up and control the weight down in a slow and controlled way. Don’t just let the weight drop straight down faster than gravity.

Cable Pull Throughs

One of the best muscle-building exercises around, the glute-ham raise trains the glute-ham tie-in, a muscle complex involved in posterior pelvic tilt and extension of the hip (yup, it’s your booty muscle). Not only does this aid in activating the glute-ham tie-in, it’s the only major glute exercise that activates both the posterior and the lateral parts of your glutes.

It also trains your hamstrings to fire in the same way that your quadriceps fire when you walk and run, increasing your whole-body power and improving your function, especially in athletic movements.

That’s why it’s no surprise that glute-ham raises are the top glute exercises recommended by most experts. However, to do the exercise, you need a glute-ham machine. Many of these machines do a great job of isolating the glutes. However, if you don’t have access to a machine, or are just looking for more variety in your exercises, here are some great options.

Cable Pull-Throughs

Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls

Unfortunately, the only way to get an effective workout with a GHD machine is if you have access to a gym that has them, or if you can afford one for your home. And with the price of those machines on the rise, chances are you don’t have one of your own.

In this case, I recommend trying to work on your GHD machine at the gym, or if they have one, at another gym. Alternatively, you could also try to get a work out partner who’s obsessed with GHDs and train with them together.

This will help you to maintain the GHD challenge while avoiding doing 100% of the work in this chapter.

If you can’t get access to a GHD, you will have to think of an alternative workout plan that works for you.

One such exercise is to use a playground swing for some moving hamstring curls. If you don’t have access to a playground swing, a simple online search will lead you to some at a fairly low price.

Another alternative is to use a Swiss ball for your glute bridge exercises. The following challenge would work well with a Swiss ball:

Let’s Create a Sample Workout

Let’s start with the exercises.

We’ll use standard set/rep ranges for each.

A1. Leg Curl “ 4 sets of 8 reps

A2. Stiff Leg Deadlift “ 4 sets of 8 reps

B1. Bodyweight Glute Bridge “ 3 sets of 8 reps

B2. Walking Lunges “ 3 sets of 10 reps

B3. Bulgarian Split Squats “ 3 sets of 10 reps

Note: For B exercises you’ll want to choose one that you can finish all reps of it in the allotted time.

Let’s now go over some of the more difficult exercises to eliminate from this workout so that you can stick to 6-8 exercises.

You may also want to select moves that can work your whole body in one shot.

One move that might be hard to incorporate into your routine is the front and side leg lifts you see in the video.

Some people can do these, but most can’t.

Instead, we’ll use Glute Ham Raises as a replacement for front leg raises.

Final Words

Glute Ham Raises, also known as the GHD, are fantastic exercises for overall leg development. They have a huge carry over into other bodyweight sports, particularly parkour, so they are highly sought after.

Unfortunately, Kettlebells can take weeks, or even months, to arrive at your doorstep. This can leave you no choice but to wait, or look at alternative options.


Many different exercises reap huge benefits for the butt. Landing on one that you like is hard when you are starting out. This is why I recommend you try the squat, it allows you to lower down with straight legs into a squat and then use the hips to drive all the way up. It can feel a little awkward at first, and you may even feel that you’re going to fall over. Just focus on your balance, get your weight back, and go slow. Do not rush it.

Exercise Ball

Dips and chest exercises are also amazing for your butt. People always forget to put them at the top of their workout lists. They are simple to do, requiring only a little creativity and flexibity to add weight.

Gliding Disc